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Introduction

Fighting games have developed a lot since the beginning of their existence. It seems like it was only yesterday that 2D fighting games like Mortal Kombat were on top of the charts, but those days are over. Now, fighting titles are taking gaming to a whole new level with their in-depth environments, massive attack lists for each character, and their overall complex style of gameplay. We were able to get our hands on the recent release of Dead or Alive 4 to see if this rendition truly does justice to this venerable series.

Dead or Alive 4 in a Nutshell

Basically, Dead or Alive 4 is an extremely fast paced fighting game. Each character has around 100 unique moves that can string together some pretty hefty combos. The control layout is fairly simple; ‘Y’ is the default punch key, ‘B’ is used for kicking, tapping ‘A’ when close to an opponent tosses them into the air, while ‘X’ can help you block and counter attacks. Pressing the attack keys in conjunction with an analog stick movement can perform a special combo attack, and if you time your moves right it can be very easy to drain your enemy’s health without them even having a chance to fight back.

For counter attacks, one must block and move the analog stick in the right direction depending on the type of attack. Countering will not only prevent you from being hurt but will also deal a significant amount of damage to your foe, but a failed counter will leave you vulnerable and open to critical hits. The most defining aspect of the series is its fast paced combat because you need to have sharp reflexes if you plan on surviving. The environments also play a crucial role in the battle system. Slamming your foes into walls will not only do more damage, but cornering them will also give you the upper hand because they’ll have nowhere to go. Having a battle last for over 20 seconds is pretty uncommon, so you need to act fast instead of dawdling around in order to come up with the win here.



   
   
   
   

 

It’s so real!

As with most other 360 titles, you can expect Dead or Alive 4 to deliver top notch graphics. The environments are incredibly detailed and teeming with color, and a soft glow makes everything come to life. While the levels as a whole are visually pleasing, the smaller details can really make you appreciate the amount of work that was put into this game. In one bazaar scene fruit stands are filled with various types of goodies, while in a wrestling type arena each member of the crowd possesses fluid movements. The character models have intricate textures, and right away some gamers will notice the bouncier aspects of the female anatomy! There aren’t rough edges to speak of and the game plays at a smooth 60 FPS the whole way, so there really isn’t a whole lot more you could ask for.

The Asian Persuasion

Audibly, Dead or Alive 4 does a great job when delivering the impact of every last blow, and Tecmo’s strong Japanese influence is also hard to miss. The characters only speak in Japanese, and unless you’re proficient in this language the subtitles will help you understand their taunts before and after each battle. Each battle sounds like it came straight out of a Bruce Lee movie due to the chaotic warriors screaming. Characters like the ninja Hayabusa let their enemies become aware of their strength, and some of the girl fighters sound threatening as well. All of the punching and kicking sound effects are on par by today’s standards, and it’s always fun to kick someone into a cement wall just to find out what it would sound like. Whether you can appreciate the Japanese vocals or not is a matter of preference, but the presence of an authentic fighting atmosphere is undeniable.



 


 



Ready . . . FIGHT!

At the heart of DoA4 is the story mode, in which gamers can go through a series of about 8 stages while following along a brief story of each character’s quest. The gameplay here is fighting at its simplest form. Enemies will be faced one at a time across an array of environments. You don’t need to pay attention to the story at all though because the battles flow smoothly one after the other. The stages become increasingly difficult, so while it’ll be easy to defeat the first few foes by simply mashing buttons, a little more finesse is required to make it all the way through. The final boss is always a mysterious translucent woman in a special arena who is capable of teleporting very quickly. Even on the easiest difficulty she can pull off ten move combos with ease and slam you hurling into a wall, but luckily you can die as many times as you need to without being penalized. After completing the story mode with certain characters new costumes and playable fighters can be unlocked. Although it would be nice for less challenging difficulty levels to be present for newcomers, the sense of accomplishment you can earn by completing each campaign is certainly rewarding.

Another enjoyable battle mode is the survival mode. After selecting a character, you will be pitted against a nonstop flow of enemies as you crush them one at a time. The objective here is to simply see how long you can survive. Every time you defeat an opponent, some of your health is regenerated and an item will be dropped, which can also give you more health and add to your total score. In the end, you are ranked based on your total score, so it’s possible to have more wins in succession one time while receiving a better score another time. Points are earned slamming your opponents into the arena, dealing heavy blows to them when they fail to counter, and by pulling off lengthy combos. Killing opponents quickly will boost your score, and if you don’t get hit at all you can score a nice bonus.

Similar to survival mode is the team battle feature, where up to seven players on each team are put into a reserve. Once one character’s health bar is depleted, the next guy will jump in right away, so there aren’t any dull moments. If you ever have the desire to practice, then the sparring mode is there to help you master a certain character’s unique fighting style. Aside from being able to control how the computer fights back, you can also choose to go through the exercise routine that shows you how to perform every single one of your fighter’s attacks. A button log shows exactly what you’re pressing so you can see if you make any errors, and you even have the option to watch the computer perform an attack. Of course, a basic versus mode is included with single player or tag team battles, and it can be a nice change to fight without all of the frills.

Aside from just fighting, a few other relaxing modes let you sit back and enjoy this game in all of its magnificent glory. The watch mode will let you view two CPU opponents pummel each other, and you can take high resolution snapshots and save them to a storage device here. The battle viewer lets you watch saved replays, while the movie theater has all of the ending cinematics to the characters you’ve completed story mode with.

The Future of Dead or Alive 4 – Xbox Live

Easily the most entertaining aspect of DoA4 is the online component. Quick match lets you jump right into the action, custom match will find the best game that meets your preferences, and you can create your own lobby if you just want to setup everything for yourself. Zack’s shop is a comical feature that lets you purchase different lobbies, avatars, and accessories to help customize your avatar. Before the fighting actually commences, gamers have to wait in the pre-game lobby in the form of an avatar. Ranging from ninjas and humans to pigs and penguins, the avatars make setting up a game a lot more fun than ever before. The online fighting system at its core is solid and offers for a lot of customization as well. The lobby creator can determine the length of each round, how many victories are required to win, and they can even setup a scenario where the winner of one round will keep challenging enemies until he is eventually defeated. While some may strive to achieve the best grade to make it to the top of the worldwide ranking list, players who obtain the “15 losses in a row” achievement on a daily basis can also spend a lot of time online.

Conclusion

Dead or Alive 4 is a worthy addition to the series that satisfies the needs of skilled gamers and newcomers alike. While initially the overly difficult story mode might be a turn off for some, if you manage to take the time to learn how to play this game it can offer endless hours of entertainment. The fast paced brutal action of the Dead or Alive series has made its way to the Xbox 360, and we can easily say that it contains enough depth (and partial nudity!) to appease the most demanding fighting veterans.

Game play 18/20
Graphics 19/20
Sound 17/20
Value 17/20
Preference 18/20
Overall 89/100

DOA 4- Second Opinion - Stuart "Veridian3" Davidson

Having played DOA4 for the past month or so, even at the expense of the excellent Project Gotham 3 I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with Andy’s conclusion that the game whilst very fast paced is incredibly deep and has potentially huge longevity both on your own console and on Xbox Live. I was also very impressed by how fluid the battles are despite their tempo. Whilst the game is difficult to master for a novice this actually makes it all the more rewarding as you begin to master counters and various combo’s. I still have a few recordings on my HD from early battles where I found my first few really good moves it still feels pretty good to look back and see how cool they actually were, you’ll probably find yourself doing the same as your technique progresses.

Where I would disagree a little with Andy is the quality of the graphics which you find in DOA4. For the most part they are very impressive, the level where you start fighting on the rope/wood bridge and drop down to the valley floor is particularly impressive though there are some levels where I was slightly disappointed. Some of the background graphics such as part of the crowd in the wrestling arena are very last generation for example. The character models also have a few rough edges such as clipping of some clothing and blocky hair that doesn’t move as well as the Xbox 360 specs should allow. I would go so far as to say that I did feel a little let down and disappointed by the graphics and felt it wouldn’t hurt to have delayed the game for a month or two just to add some further polish because really, when you compare it to the overall sheen of the other 360 titles including Kameo and Project Gotham Racing 3, Dead or Alive 4 does come up a little short.

 

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