Review by gatewalker

"Ouch! Did that game just hit me?"

The Dead or Alive (DOA) series of fighting games has always presented us with excellent games, and the addition of Dead or Alive 4 to that series proves to be no exception. It is a beautifully rendered and executed piece of interactive video art, and pretty damn fun to play… as long as you have a real person sitting next to you to play it with.

The graphic engine that runs this game is a testament to the power of the Xbox 360; a superb title to shows what this system is capable of doing, and provides us a window through which we are presented hints of what is to come. All of the character models are beautiful and move with a grace I have rarely ever seen in a game of this genre before.

The stages are complex and gorgeous also. Many of them have multiple levels, and some even branch into different arenas. On some of stages elements in the background will come to the foreground and interact with you. There is a stage where animals will run across the screen and knock you over, and another where you fight in the street while dodging cars.

The sound is adequate. If you like Aerosmith (apparently the game designer Tomonobu Itagaki does), you'll probably enjoy the sound track. Overall the music seems to fit the game well and the sound effects along with the character comments all appear to fall right on cue.

There are multiple game play modes to enjoy. You can play the story mode and discover each characters tale. This title, more than any of the previous titles, gives you more story background and explains things in much greater detail by use of the cut scenes and endings. The story of each character also determines what boss that character will face, not everyone faces the same opponent in the end. You can play the time attack mode where you try to beat the game a quickly as possible, or survival mode where you try to survive as long as you can against a stream of opponents. You can also take your fight online is that is something you like to do.

The combat system is somewhat complex, and seems to be quite a bit different from this series earlier incarnations. In addition to learning the combat moves you need to learn how to guard and how to counter. Becoming a master of the game play can be quite frustrating. A sparring mode for training is provided that will help you master some of the more difficult moves.

All of the fighting styles are based on hand to hand martial arts of some sort. There are no weapons as in Soul Calibur, or supernatural powers or projectiles (that I know of) as in Mortal Kombat. Some of the ninja characters can teleport though.

The major fault I find with this game is that it is very hard when playing against the computer. The computer opponent will block and counter many of your moves while you will often fail while trying to do the same. Against a human player you will find that you have a much greater chance of success at these attempts, but against the computer – you will end up getting really frustrated. There are times that you even find yourself driven to hurl your wireless Xbox 360 controller across the room and smash it into the wall (so far, the thought of replacing that fifty dollar controller usually stops me in mid swing).

I blame this obscene difficulty on Tomonobu Itagaki. He is one of those game designers, in the school of thought that is enjoined by Capcom and a few others, who believe that pain is enjoyment. That you must be nearly bleeding from your fingers and greatly frustrated to properly enjoy the games he helps to create. If the title is not supremely difficulty, you will have no reason to play it. Or so he and others seems to think.

Me, personally, I'm perfectly fine with healthy fingers, and good game play. That is why I say you should play this beautiful title with friends. They will suck just as bad as you suck. The will not counter and block every single move you try. They will not be able to cheat, as the computer player will always do.

With your friends, you will enjoy this title.

Alone, it will hurt you, or hurt your wallet when you end up buying a new controller after smashing your old one in frustration.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/08/07


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