When the Xbox was launched in 2001, it came with it a change in platform for the popular Dead or Alive series. The developer is one of the most blunt and well respected developers in the world with some of the most famous Xbox games under his belt including Ninja Gaiden. With the 360, Tecmo has once again committed the DOA series to the system and although it missed the launch, the fighting franchise is back and better than ever. The only question is, is it just a graphical update, or is the game actually better?
DOA4 features a number of modes including Survival, Time Attack, Story, Watch. If this sounds familiar, you're not making a mistake because to the word, this is almost exactly the same as Dead or Alive 3. Most of the modes are fairly self explanatory, and from a fighting game you wouldn't expect all that much more.
The storylines has, however, been updated. There is still a rivalry between two characters in each storyline, but the final boss is actually an artificial intelligence version of the current character. The cut scenes are also now played out in the games engine as opposed to cut scenes. The dazzling thing is that the cut scenes look even better than the DOA3 ones which is quite something considering the last games were played out in pre-rendered CG graphics.
The game itself hasn't changed much though. You still punch and kick with various moves controlled by the controller. It's hard to be disappointed with this because those who picked up DOA4 should know exactly what they are getting. Fighting games haven't been the most fully featured for a long time, and Dead or Alive 4 does nothing to change this image. With that said, the other game modes do help in longevity for the game and the online play should keep you going for some time. It does seem easier on the 360 to pull off some of the moves and counter attacks and does lead to some of the most gorgeous animation and collision detection ever seen in a fighting game.
The characters have also had a bit of a makeover. Most of the returning characters keep their famous costumes such as Hitomi and Kasumi, but a there is also a few characters new to the game. The characters look stunning to say the least and have a huge level of detail added. However rather than go for a more realistic look, Tecmo have continued more along the lines of 'cartoon' style graphics with bright vibrant colours used. The levels also continue this theme, and many of them have various levels to fight in. For instance in the forest if you smash someone off the bridge, you follow them down to continue the fight.
The visuals of the game also impress. Even with the high level of detail, and destructibility of the levels, the framerate doesn't fault even once. As mentioned before the characters and animation is done extremely well and it's very hard to fault this area of the game. The sound effects are done fairly well, but are a bit uninspiring with the one voice used throughout the whole game. This can be set in options however and the soundtrack is a pumping mix of rock and pop which was to be expected from a DOA game.
Whether you should buy this game depends on how much of a fighting game fan you are. If you still play the famous games such as Street Fighter II and don't mind the lack of variety, then DOA 4 will probably be a good purchase, but for those wanting a meaty game full of different styles of play then elsewhere is where you will find it.
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