Such a huge improvement over the original that it rendered the original Virtua Fighter obsolete. The most obvious and welcome improvement was the presentation of the characters – now texture-mapped, totally solid creations, they became distinctive personalities in their own right.
The two new characters, Shun-Di and Lion Rafale, brought two unique fighting styles that helped move Virtua Fighter 2 away from conventional fighting games into its own groove. Although not as tactical (or float-based) as VF4 and VF5, the seeds were sown for the series’ future – Lion and Shun had dodge moves, counter-attacks were introduced and, in the arcade, Wolf’s cage let you trap your opponent for merciless damage.
I remember when I first got my Saturn I wanted to put together a really slick-looking video highlighting the best Saturn games around, and part of that involved an extremely scripted match of Virtua Fighter 2 between Akira and Pai. I had each move planned out and it would have been ace if I were good enough to make it look natural. In the end I just decided we should fight properly, which looked much better!
At the time I found VF2 pretty harsh; unlike VF4, I never really developed any finesse or technique. It certainly looked and sounded tremendous, and the Saturn conversion was an incredible technical achievement, but in hindsight Virtua Fighter 2 was really the true starting point for what became the greatest fighting series in the world.