Review by solidsnakeRAY
"A punch in the face and a whole lotta fun"
The first fighting game on the 360 is not a let down, and actually happens to be one of the best titles currently for the system. The game itself looks visually appealing, and the controls are smooth, even with a wireless controller. The fact that it can go online is pretty cool as well.
Well it's a fighting game, and alas, you fight in it. DOA4 sticks to its signature fast-paced juggling action, and adds in a few extra twists along the way. You are now in levels that break apart fairly easily, and it's not uncommon for one to fly the top of a building, or get hit down a few flights of stairs. There's also the added element of moving things within the levels themselves, like cars or animals. These can be used to your advantage and can cause extra damage to your opponent. Of course that can also work in reverse, and you can be the victim of a renegade cheetah (not joking).
There are 16 playable characters from the start, and more can be unlocked as you progress through the game. Each character is unique in their style and can execute enough combos to satisfy even hardcore fighting gamers. The action is fast and furious, usually with no breaks in the flow of fighting. There's also very little load time, which is a precious commodity amongst games.
A word for the faint of heart though, this game is not easy. By far it is not easy. There's not even an easy setting. Because of this, the learning curve is set kinda steep, at least for those who've never actually played any of the previous games. A few of the characters are capable of annihilating someone new to the game in a matter of seconds. Others will make you want to throw your controller across the room. The upside to the difficulty though, is that it makes this game impossible for button mashers, so one is automatically trained NOT to button mash. The A.I. is not dumb, and if it senses a repeating pattern (even twice in a row), it will almost always respond with a painful counter. DOA4's difficulty is useful training for online play though, and therefore it's properly set.
Speaking of online play, DOA4 is great. As you can imagine, it's an online fighting game. It almost has to be fun. The only complaint that I have is that it's not uncommon to be defeated because either you or your opponent is lagging like crazy. I've had instances where the screen paused for a few seconds, and then when it returned, I had been beaten. Nevertheless, out of the online fighting games I've played, this one is probably the best.
In actual combat, the characters themselves don't look a lot different from DOA3. During the cut scenes, they tend to be choppy as well. Probably the worst area is hair, which for some characters, looks more like oily water than anything. This isn't always the case though. The endings for each character tend to have very good graphics, and I noticed very little graphical flaws with the movement and surroundings.
Truth be told, it's actually the levels that are amazing to look at. If you pay close attention and actually take time to admire them, there's an incredible amount of detail packed into each area. Sparks flying, live animals, crowds in the background, even fighting in a foot of water looks cool. Alas though, the graphics rating stays a 7, because chances are in a fight, you're not going to be focused on the level; you're going to be focused on the computer that's kicking your ass.
Not the best graphics to appear on the 360 so far, but hey, they work.
Okay, so maybe DOA4 has a really crappy story, but it's not really about the story anyway, so I'm not going to say the game sucks because of this. Each character gets about two or three cut scenes during the actual story mode, and then when you beat your final opponent, you unlock an ending for that character. If you've played previous DOA games, or at least know the story behind them, the cut scenes make more sense, as almost every character has a connection to another in some way. There also seems to be an imitation of Dural from the Virtua Fighter games, but I won't spoil it.
The reason why this game is rated mature more than likely comes from the character endings. Some are comical and others will make you wonder just how much of an obsession the creators had with female breasts. They're short to watch, but the graphics are pretty and a few characters actually have fairly cool endings.
Behind all the huyah's and the judo chopping, there's an actual soundtrack which doesn't suck. There's a bit of rock, a bit of trance, and a bit of jpop (which I don't care for, but other people do). Plus you can always program your own soundtrack for the game, which is what I do. The voice acting is all done in Japanese, so therefore I can't determine if it's good or not, because I don't know how it's supposed to sound.
The sound effects themselves are much better than average, even down to small things like crowds in the background or an oncoming car. It's also particularly well done when you get smashed into something electric and there's a huge zap, or when you get hit through a breakable wall, whether it be wood, brick, etc.
I thought that overall, the sound was very well done and matched the game appropriately for the situations. An example is if you have a tough encounter coming up, the music usually switches to something more dramatic, as if an epic showdown was about to occur. In normal fights, it has something resembling deep trance music for all the stages. The song variation is wide enough though, so you don't hear the same song five times in a row.
The only reason why this game did not get a 10/10 is because of the difficulty. It isn't n00b friendly at all, and that could drive potential players away from it.
DOA4 is meant for two purposes though: kicking ass and taking names, and it pulls it off with great flair. The online multiplayer adds a whole new dimension, and the graphics are usually crisp and clear. Give it butt-kicking sound, a wide selection of characters, and some interesting scenes well my friend, you've got yourself one hell of a fighting game.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/09/06
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