I'm a great fan of fighting games and my favorite series in the genre is Dead or Alive. I used to play a lot of Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct in the SNES and early-N64 era and I've tried almost all the series out there, from Tekken and Street Fighter to Guilty Gear and King of Fighters. A lot of them are very good but just don't appeal to me (which is the current case with MvC3) and there are others that I just hate for my own reasons (Street Fighter and Tekken) but there's one series which I've always seen as the most technically advanced and hard to master since I played its fourth entry in the PS2: That's Virtua Fighter.
The SEGA made franchise has always been in the shadow even though every time a new game comes out the reviewers love them and give excellent reviews. You could say the series is not taken seriously because the first three entries only came out on Sega consoles but VF4 came out on the PS2 and VF5 is available almost for free on the PS3 and 360 and yet, nobody has ever played this series.
VF is just excellent, it's the game that inspired DOA as far as I'm concerned and out of all the games in the genre out there, it's the hardest one to master while being easy to get into, just like DOA. The difference I see between the two (and let's include Soul Calibur to the formula) is that VF only focused on creating a near-perfect gameplay system while its characters are not as charismatic as the ones in other series. Of course there are exceptions like Akira (the main "protagonist") and to me and almost everyone I know who plays fighting games, one of the most important aspects in the genre is the charisma of the character. As an example I always use Gen Fu, the old dude from Dead or Alive, he's just amazing gameplay-wise and usually shares a spot in the top of the tier lists with the ninjas yet, almost nobody uses him because he is "the old ugly man" in a game full of insanely beautiful girls.
The charisma and looks of the characters in something I find funny in Soul Calibur. There are four games in the series and as new titles get released you can notice how the guys went from bad-ass medieval fighters to yaoi anime protagonists and the girls have less clothes and bigger breasts in every new game. Namco did a good job in transforming their fighters and that is the main reason why I think the series is doing good. In the other hand, DOA has always used the hot-girls formula to draw attention but it can defend itself with one of the most advanced fighting systems out there once the player falls into the trap of "let's play with this hot schoolgirl". Now, I like Soul Calibur but it's nowhere near as good as DOA.
For this reason is that I believe that Sega should have the guts to start working on VF6, give a few changes to their characters and tweak it's fighting system if this can ever be done because even though a new DOA is coming out next month I feel scared that with games like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Blazblue and Street Fighter we're gonna be stuck again in an era of 2D lame fighters. Sega, Team Ninja and Namco have the opportunity to bring the franchise back to where it belongs.