Review by Drunky

Reviewed: 07/14/06

Visually stunning, but not much else to the game.

Dead or Alive 4 may seem like another button mashing fighter along the lines of Tekken, and aside from the incredible graphics, it pretty much it is. DOA4 brings nothing new to the fighting genre, and except for the prettied up online mode, its nothing special.

If you‘re like me and have never previously played a Dead or Alive game before, the story to Dead or Alive 4 can be slightly confusing to those unfamiliar with DOATEC, the characters or even the tournament itself. The main story mode allows you to choose one of many fighters to progress through the several stages to reach your destiny. The game seems a bit disjointed, you’ll fight through several stages, but only 2 or 3 of them will explain why you are fighting your opponent, and even then only 1 or 2 of those scenes will relate to the games main storyline. There is not even a tournament to explain the seemingly random encounters, there are times when you’ll just be talking to someone normally before breaking into a fight or getting into a brawl over a vegetable from a street grocer. Even the endings change with the character you play as, several playable characters will fight the same villain in the end but in different areas and for different reasons. Piecing together the story from what you’re given is not difficult, but I’d have preferred a little more coherency. What really makes the story mode worthwhile are the FMVs you’ll get by completing the game with a specific character. The FMVs are made especially for your fighter, showing either their new future or a little background information explaining how they came to be DOA participant, as well as the ones clearing up the DOATEC/Tenshin Clan rivalry.

The gameplay is not accommodating to button mashers, as it requires you to learn the strengths of your own character as well as a variety of combinations to help you defeat your opponent. The game has no easy setting, so don’t think you can just breeze through the game modes. While its not very difficult either, it can be very frustrating when you get repeatedly pummeled into the ground and the AI doesn’t cut you even a little bit of slack. Maybe after a half dozen beatings, they could not use their devastating combo that takes away a third of your life, sadly that doesn’t happen so you just have to stumble through it.

The controls are simple to learn, but difficult to master. Buttons for punching, kicking, grappling and blocking will perform the basic moves, but linking them together along with directions from the left thumbstick will allow you to perform incredible moves, with each character having dozens of moves, some even close to, or over, a hundred.

There are plenty of modes to play though from Story Mode, Survival Mode, Time Attack and even online. Story mode will of course give you the standard gameplay with the rewarding FMVs, Survival pits you against an onslaught of enemies, one after the other to see how many you can defeat, and Time Attack challenges you to see how fast you can beat the enemies. Online mode of course lets you challenge players from all over the world on Xbox Live where you can raise in rank by fighting for points.

The graphics are simply incredible, one of the most impressive looking games I‘ve seen on the Xbox 360. The environments are interactive ranging from electrified ring rope to destructible tables, walls, and rock columns. You can fight in a huge variety of incredibly detailed areas, from the Las Vegas strip in all its neon glory or on the steps of a temple on a mountain, to the middle of a professional wrestling ring in a packed arena. Tons of areas to play in (even the Nassau Station from Halo 2!), each with their own environmental hazards, makes for a great deal of variety and surprises in fights. Along with the buildings, walls, steps, trees, etc. all being interactive, you’ll have to cope with interference from passing vehicles and rampaging dinosaurs.

The character models in-game are incredibly detailed, but not so life-like, going instead for the anime style for the female characters and the solid mass of muscles for the male. The physics in the game are astounding, the clothing moves and flows as it would in real life and the characters react to the crushing blows as anyone whose just been knocked through a wall would. The outstanding part of the game would definitely be the FMVs you receive for beating the Story Mode with each character. They look better than most CGI movies in theatres, incredible detail to the characters not shown in the gameplay and even more incredible detail to the explosions and fires.

The sound effects are adequate, familiar grunts and groans as you or your opponent get knocked around like a rag doll. Aerosmith music is used frequently throughout the game, so depending on your opinion on them you may want to take advantage of custom play lists.

The replay ability is dependent on how much you enjoy fighting games. Personally, I can enjoy fighting games once I’ve beaten all the stories and had a few friendly matches or two, then I toss it aside, and not surprisingly DOA4 was no exception. Story mode has a few solid hours of gameplay in it, but the real attraction is the online mode. You can pick your own little avatar to roam around environments that will serve as lobbies and chat with people as you wait to take turns in combat, waiting for your match to get underway is no longer boring enough to make you consider just shutting off your console.

Gameplay: 7/10
Incredible amount of attacks makes up for the same variety of gameplay you may have experienced from Tekken or Virtua Fighter.
Graphics: 10/10
Outstanding graphics in the game and even more amazing FMVs make this one of the best looking 360 titles on the market.
Sound: 7/10
Adequate sound effects, and original Japanese voice acting, which may or may not be a good thing.
Replay: 8/10
No reason to replay story mode, other game modes are basically the same in every other fighter, original and entertaining online mode.
Overall: 7/10

I’d definitely recommend you rent this game, if only to see the excellent graphics. DOA4 is not a definite buy for everyone, some will tire of the same basic gameplay that’s been dressed up in pretty, jiggly, female fighters, while others will enjoy the online mode for hours on end.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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