Review by NWalterstorf

"Not bad, but not great."

Does anyone else remember the original DOA? Anyone? I do. In fact, I've been with the Dead or Alive series since the first time it came to America. It was pretty good; and I've been with the series ever since then.

I'll skip the lengthy introduction, and get right to the good stuff. Here's the latest installment in the Dead or Alive series. Dead or Alive 4, for the 360 game system; a next-gen fighting game. Now, the question is: is it as good as everyone would expect it to be? The answers are somewhat mixed.

First off, I'll cover the graphics. They're excellent. I've never seen this much detail in any video game's graphics before. It's using the 360's power very well, and everything looks smooth and runs spectacularly. There's even a rush you get when you execute a charged power move, how there's a ripple of explosion from the character's feet which kick dirt into the air. In short, they did very well with the graphics.

However, I was mildly disappointed with the various clothing unlockables. Most of the time you have to replay and replay the story and time attack mode in order to unlock all of the clothing (much like DOAU), but the unlockable clothing isn't all that great; sure, Jack's clothing is the best (who doesn't like a funky Mai-Thai guy in an alien suit?), but I don't feel like investing a lot of time to get various colors of the same uniform, as it is with many of the characters.

Now the sound is great; so is the music. Who would've thought Dead or Alive would've blended so perfectly with Aerosmith's song (end of the final story mode)? It's been pulled off very well, and this game has a great sound-track, as well as excellent sound effects. Every blow sounds good; every special attack. Nothing was spared when it came to the sound department.

The control is great, but to an extent. When you first boot up the game and jump into practice mode to learn the character's new moves, you feel great. The character on the screen looks good, and you feel like you could take out any enemy before you. But remember; that's BEFORE you jump into the story or otherwise computer-opponent mode. The AI is unbearable. The AI goes from pitifully simplistic one second, to the omniscient overseer the next. Let's put it like this; expect to hurl your controller across the room a lot. When you get past state 2 or 3 in the story mode, the AI gets hard; too hard, to where it's easily countering every single move you throw at it. And when you go to perform a counter of your own? It throws you.

The AI is the biggest turnoff of the game yet. And don't let me get started on the final boss fight! Trust me, it brings a whole new meaning to the word "cheap boss!"

Of course, we could go on all day about the AI, but we won't. Now I'll talk about the on-line mode.

So how is it? It's great. It's really, really good. The on-line mode is practically flawless. Despite a few glitches here and there, it's a really well done on-line mode, with customizabl lobbies and customizable avatars. It even has rankings to pair you up with the same level fighter you should be challenging. In fact, the on-line mode is so well done, I've decided not to deduct another point from my score due to the lacking AI.

So how's the game's story, on another note? It's done well. It's a fighting game, so don't expect the best story, but it is good nonetheless. The endings of many characters, however, left a lot to be desired, but the final, final story of the game is very well done.

The gameplay? It's great; the controls are silky smooths, and you'll find it easy to pull of difficult techniques and throws. Each character is very well balanced, and this being a 360 game, it has an even smoother control sceme that the last. In fact, play with these controls for a while, and you'll find the previous fighting game you played (no matter what it was) to be a hastle compared.

In the end, it's a pretty good game. However, I felt it left a lot to be desired. The AI really puts the game back a few pegs than where I thought it should be. It was executed well, and the on-line's great, but then again, it could've been so much more. The story mode is good, but some of the ending movies for the different characters can be a tad bit disappointing.

So should you buy it? Sure. The on-line mode's really worth it. But what if you're not a fighting game fan? Then don't get it. The difficulty's really high, and makes for a troublesome opponent in every computer-opponent. But if you can bare with it long enough to fully enjoy the controls and on-line modes, then you'll definitely enjoy this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/31/06

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