Review by Npeaen

"Ninjas! Thousands of them!"

Dead or Alive 4 is the first fighting game to hit the 360, released a little over a month after the 360 came out. The game features some of the fastest fighting I've ever seen in a fighting game and a little trick called the counter system, allowing you to reverse moves at any time. Do those two things help create a fantastic fighting game though? Read on to find out!

Graphics:
Initially impressive, but the more you play the more flaws you notice. At first glance you see a really beautiful game. The character models look pretty good(if not a little top heavy). the environments look fantastic, and look at that! You can destroy stuff in the levels! And most of them have multiple levels! With a little more looking you notice that the characters clothes move according to their movements and the levels weather conditions. Baymans pants ruffle in the wind, Kasumi's leg garments move appropriately when you kick, etc. etc. Some characters even seem to have their hair flow with their movements and the wind too! How sweet is that! Actually, the hair part is terrible. It clips through the body regularly and it also didn't take advantage of the hardware much. There's about 10-15 “strands” of hair per character, meaning someone with long hair in the back has their hair moves in large ugly lumps. Back to the good though, the games animated beautifully. Movements all appear smooth and no move looks clunky going into the next. However, there are some very noticeable collision problems as you continue to play, headbutts that go through the enemy chest, things like that. While not very distracting, it does remove from the overall experience though. Going back to the character models for a second, while they do look impressive at first glance, you need to compare them to other DoA titles. Take a look at DoA Ultimate, the character models are not a very big up from that game. This could be because of the character Style the game uses, but still, it is a little annoying that not much was done with the new hardware.

Audio:
Japanese voice acting with English subtitles, works just fine for me, as fighting games are notorious for getting just about the worst English voice actors imaginable. At least the subtitles seem to be just fine, with a few very, very odd little post battle comments. “You better eat! Eat some meat!” The hell? Otherwise, all the various cries of triumph, agony, and war cries sound pretty much normal, what you'd expect from a fighting game. Then there's the music. Boy am I glad the 360 has custom soundtracks. The in game music is just series of bad unmemorable little background beat after another. The only real songs in the game are performed by Aerosmith... as it is with every other DoA game. Team Ninja must really love those guys or something.

Controls:
pretty standard for a DoA game, doesn't really break the formula, it just speeds the actual game up a little and makes it much more difficult to spam counters. X is counter, A is grab, Y is punch, and B is kick. You move around with either the D-pad or the left thumbstick, and it's also used to control the height of your move. The controls work just fine, and are fairly responsive, I only rarely find myself going “the hell? That's not what I pressed!”.

Gameplay:
Always the most important part of a game. This is the best DoA game yet, by far, the tweaks made have made the gameplay experience much deeper, more fast paced, and just plain more fun. The game features 23 playable characters, ranging from the speedy ninja Ayane to pro Wrestler Bass. There's even an appearance by a SPARTAN from the Halo series, every character plays differently thankfully.*remember unlocking clone after clone in Soul Caliber* The game features a story mode, which has AI ranging from idiotic to absurd.... on the lowest difficulty. All of this topped off by an appearance of one of the most difficult bosses I've ever seen in a fighting game. Alpha 152. This boss can teleport anywhere at will, getting grabbed by her resulting is sitting there for 10 seconds watching your character getting slaughtered, and it doesn't help that her moves do ridiculous amounts of damage. Moving past that you are rewarding with very pretty end CG movie for each character. After that you get your standard offerings of versus, Time Attack(Trying to beat Alpha 2 out of 3 is fun!), sparring, and the meat and bones of the game. DoA online. On line your skill is tracked in two different ways. Your “Rating”, and skill points. Skill points are the only ones that you can see change from fight to fight, and they determine your letter rank(SS,S,A,B,C,D). You also get “Money” from fights that can be spent on upgrades to your avatar or Lobby, an almost worthless(can be helpful to set up tag team matches), but kinda neat little addition to the game that just lets you chat really before matches. You run around with a cartoony avatar of your choice in an even more cartoony lobby. Once the actual fighting gets underway though, it's quite fun and will occupy you for some time. Hell, they expect you to play a while, as one of the games achievements is to get 100 hours of total play time in. Other little interesting notes with the achievements is this is the first 360 game to have “Mark of shame” achievements. These give out no gamerscore points, but do let the entire world know you've lost 20 matches in a row. In the end, it's a very quick paced fighting game that will keep you coming back for the fantastic On line play, as long as the host is okay, the lag can be a real killer from time to time. It's usually not present though.

Overall, if you're a fan of fighting games, this is the best the 360 has to offer so far, and it's a pretty good game. While it does have a few problems here and there(still a few balance issues need working out), some graphical flaws, and a few useless features(lobby), it's still a very fun game and I thought it was 60 bucks well spent.

8.4/10


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/21/06


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