Review by CthulhuDreams99

"More bounce than an industrial sized trampoline"

Dead or Alive has been rather notorious ever since its first home console port and the "happy times" option. Honestly, the series has been dismissed for its focus on appearances and, erm, the female landscape. I remember playing the first and second games in the series and enjoying the beautifully simple yet utterly complex fighting system. With Tecmo being bought up by Koei, and Team Ninja being mostly silent, the future of this popular franchise is mired in mist so thick you might expect a Stephen King novella to develop out of it. Within this tumultuous back drop, I decided to upload my input concerning this highly under-appreciated fighter.

Also, I finally put in enough time since picking up the game to finally unlock all the endings for story mode.

STORY:

BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAH! Just mentioning story with a fighting game sounds like a bad joke. I do have to give Team Ninja some respect for organising the story over all the characters' story modes. This does mean that to see the whole story you must complete the story modes for all the characters, which really isn't as daunting as it seems. A single play-through in story mode should take only 15-30 minutes, even for most non-fighting game fans.

Basically, DOATEC, a big corporation that has funded the Dead or Alive tournaments through the previous games has once again opened a competition drawing in previous competitors and some new.

Another thing I should applaud Team Ninja for is their humour. Unlike other fighting game series', and unlike other "sexy" games, the cheeky sense of humour completely fits in and can be fully appreciated. This game series has never taken itself seriously on the story front, and DOA4 doesn't disappoint in this aspect. Some characters have more series storylines, which are very well plotted, again, remember that comment about completing all story modes to get the full story? Very well worth the time to play through as all the characters.

SOUND:

The music and sound never stray from the established idiom of DOA. High-tempo techno beats pound in time with the high-speed, frenetic action. As is expected of the series, some of these can be quite catchy. Will you be buying the soundtrack? Magic Hate ball says, "Get a life, writer of The Three Musketeers!" (that joke only makes sense if you have 'A', read the Three Musketeers, and 'B', can't pronounce French names properly) The soundtrack will appeal to techno fans, but most of the rest of us will find the music palatable for the game, but perhaps migraine inducing outside of that. On another note, those who have completed the game will understand my outrage with this....AEROSMITH??!?!?!

Voices are pretty much as you might expect if you have played any other DOA games. You can change the announcer voices thankfully, and you can (I think) choose the language, which was awful nice of Tecmo and Team Ninja to give you some choices.

In game fighting sound effects all are intense and fitting. There's nothing to complain about concerning the sound effects, or at least not from my perspective.

GRAPHICS:

I recently picked up DOA3 for about 200 yen, and compared the graphics. Until I juxtaposed the graphics, I hadn't realised how much had been improved.

Let's start with environments. Rich and varied, full of subtle movement and rich depth. The lighting effects, shadows, boundaries, etc, everything is very well modelled and designed. You can be thrown around into so many different environments reflecting so many different kinds of level designs, from high-tech wrestling arenas and lush beaches, to early cretaceous park and classy yuppie buildings. The depth of these environments is stunning, and we will speak more of this later.

Characters...what can I say that you haven't heard? Amazing details have been inscribed, even into some of the most minute details of the costumes, really making you be able to see and feel the textures of each costume. Skin tones are acceptable, and we all already are painfully aware of the extravagant detail paid into the anatomy of the characters. One thing that hasn't really improved is the treatment of hair. This is slightly disappointing, considering exactly how amazingly well rendered the costumes are. Then again, this could also be part of Team Ninja's campy sense of humour. I wouldn't put it past them. After all, they did make at least 2 games dedicated to collecting women's swimwear.

The cut scenes are very well produced and have an excellent blend of cinematic and campy points, depending on the characters' backgrounds. Even almost 3 years after this game has been available, the cut scenes are still breath-taking.

GAME PLAY:

DOA never fails to deliver a functional and understandable fighting system. DOA4 doesn't disappoint. The same familiar button scheme makes an appearance. The efficient and comprehensive punch, kick, and free button set-up is still used, but it has been expanded to include far more detailed and dexterous input combinations to pull off. While some of the characters have had their styles re-hauled, even casual gamers can easily pick up this title and enjoy the fighting with their friends. The counters are still available, and in some cases have been made even more detailed and expansive. Moving around the arena is also very smooth and easy to apply for strategic purposes.

Speaking of arenas, let's return to them now. As with other DOA games, the arena can be used strategically to cause more damage to your opponents, hinder their movement, or just aggravate them with random "environmental hazards."

Concerning the CPU controlled opponents, I must caution casual players and experienced players. It can cause fits of profanity and possible damage to expensive wireless controllers. Try to take a couple of deep breaths, and give your strategy a bit of a think.

Tag team, Survival, and Time attack modes all expand on the basic premise of the story mode and can provide additional challenges, as well as unlock additional stuff. The online component seems to work very smoothly, or very laggy, it sort of varies according to region and number of players logged in. It is nice to have online competitions and to be able to do battle with opponents form around the world, a far cry away from those of us who remembered playing DOA originally at the arcade. With the death of video arcades in North America, this online feature can bring a nostalgic tear to one's eyes.

The move sets are all mostly practical, and unlike some other fighting games, very much based on real styles with a fairly decent physics engine powering your moves. By no stretch of the mind is it completely realistic, but that shouldn't bother people who play video games in the first place.

REPLAYABILITY:

Heaping handfuls of it. Not only can the game be enjoyed solo with friends in the room or across several continents, but the above mentioned separate modes create unique feels and strategies for each play through. Not to mention Team Ninja liberally sprinkled unlockable content throughout all the different parts of the game, almost forcing you to play through many different ways just to get all those hidden things, extra costumes, extra voices, etc. The game is also great for just relieving some stress after work, for the obvious combination of innuendo and savage combat. I find myself just popping the game in almost every week, even for just half an hour, before playing other games.

OVERALL:

To rent or to buy, that is the dilemma (sorry Billy boy for parroting your lines in such a fashion). I would push you in the direction of buy. Even new, this game is usually available at very reasonable prices. There's plenty to do in the game, and it doesn't require you to take notes and play it every day to keep up with the narrative. Most important above all else, it is FUN. That is science fact, you can trust me, I own a lab coat and several gas masks. Don't dismiss this series because it is traditionally known for "the pinball effect" (it's now a law of physics, don't you know).

Overall, I definitely rank this as a 9 out of 10. Give it a chance, you might find yourself writing a personal letter of thanks to Team Ninja.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/18/09

Game Release: Dead or Alive 4 (Platinum Collection) (JP, 11/01/07)


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