Review by Spark0

Reviewed: 01/10/06

The best fighter on the market!

I hate giving out 10s, but I often have to round up (usually from 9.8) due to Gamefaqs' flat number ranking system. Ah well, on to the game.

Graphics 9/10
The graphics are pretty good, the enviornments are photorealistic but the problems are constant clipping and overly smooth character models. First of all, there is next to no clipping with the first of the costumes (there are roughly 5-9 per character), so there are really no problems with that. The problem however comes during grappling, as most of the costumes will go right through you and your opponent. The other problem is that the skin is to smooth, there are few games that can avoid this however, but with a new generation of technology, the plastic look is fairly dissapointing.

Gameplay 10/10
Throw escapes, counter holds, enviornmental interaction, full 8-way run, it's all here. If you played the old DOAs, it will seem a tad simillar for the first two hours or so, but then the combined impact of all of the changes will finally hit you. The biggest is holds that are harder to pull off and do less damage, but don't let that make you think that they are useless, holds can still stop large combos, do more damage than a strike to a dangerzone. Next would most likely be increased enviornmental interaction, now animals will attack you and you can kick people over fallen branches, benches etc. without them going down a tier. One of the best examples of this would have to be the Vegas level where cars will come careening down the road and can hit you and your opponent high in to the air and can even be dodged with a wwll timed hold. One dissapointment however is that the menu screens look no different than DOA2U and most of the modes are the same (movie theatre from DOA3 has been added), even the online modes are the same. What has changed however with the online modes is an even greater degree of polish. You will no longer start lagging as soon as someone with a bad connection enters, only when they play (don't worry, you should be fine with at least an average DSL connection). There are a host of other improvements as well, there are a total of 45 achievments, most of which is through online play.

Online play is really the biggest improvement when it comes to mechanics of the modes. It still has the same excellent ranking system as DOAU and has the same handicapped and streak system, but the improvements come from things like Zack Dollars (which allow you to buy new costumes and avatars for the lobby). Some iomprovements are small though, such as the lobby system which has you walking around where you can do gestures like a laugh and watch whatever match is going on on the television.

For those unfamiliar with the system, you obtain a new rank for every 500 ranking points you get (C, C+ then B- etc.), you get bonuses for beating someone with a higher rank than you and getting a winning streak. When you get in the game from the lobby, you watch the match going on, talking about it waiting for your turn. The modes are winner-only (classic arcade style, the winner is a champion that stays for the next match), Kumite (the champion stays, win or lose), Survival (choose your character, jump in to fight with half defense the champion who is fighting an endless wave of opponents, the one who KOs the champion becomes the new one), loser-stays (the loser will stay as the champion), team battle (everyone will join one of two teams and when one is KOed the next jumps in until everyone on one team is unconcious) and tag battle (you tag the next person to fight, and you can even continue combos when you are tagged).

At its core DOA4 is a one on one fighter, where you exchange blows, counters and throws until one falls unconcious. Where DOA innovates are counter holds, when an opponent uses a punch or kicking move, you can grab hold of it and reverse the attack on the opponent. There is now a 4-point counter system as opposed to DOA3's 3-point system. You now have to press forward and free to counter a mid-kick. Holds also do much less damage and you have a smaller frame of time for countering. Where balances this is that an opponent can't do a rising attack when knocked down (which avoids holding on rising attacks repeatadly and a countered opponent from opening a combo as a reward for the mistake).

Another place where DOA4 excels are its characters. You can chose an entire 16 to start with (Kasumi, Ayane, Christie, Hitomi, Hayabusa, Hayate, Elliot, La Mariposa, Kokoro, Bass, Tina, Brad Wong, Zack, Bayman, Jan Lee and Leifang) and from there you can unlock Helena, Ein, Gen Fu, Leon, Tengu and Spartan-458. This makes for a grand total of 22 characters, quite an impressive amount. The characters are also very balances, sure the faster characters are easier to master, but any character can be formidable in the right hands.

Overall, this is the best, fastest, most solid feeling DOA yet.

Sounds 7/10
The sounds are all right, the voice acting is good even if there is no English language option. Fans will recognize old tunes from DOA and even one from Halo (played in a level ripped right out of the Cairo Station level in Halo 2). Also, for better or worse, Team Ninja's trademark Aerosmith licensing is back. This is a fairly average sounding game, the voice acting is excellent, but excluding the Halo theme song, none are that memorable.

Replay Value 10/10
There are 3 diffuculty levels (normal, hard and very hard), many characters (some with over 100 moves), and the online mode is excellent and very addictive.

Balance 9/10
The characters are almost perfectly balanced, but the faster characters are harder to master.

Story 8/10
Impressive when it comes to fighting games, after Ayane destroyed Genra, Helena somehow won and took her place as DOATEC's head and decides to set things right after Victor Donavan created his final project, Alpha-152. It is told through breathtaking CG cutscenes. It's a pretty good story, but great for a fighter.

Overall 9.8/10
It's not perfect, but it's close. DOA4 is the fastest, most intense fighter out there and a good buy.

Rent or Buy:
Buy if you like fighters, rent if you don't, this game is much simpler to get in to than most fighters, but takes even more time to master.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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