Dead or Alive 4 Xbox 360
Published by Microsoft/Tecmo
Developed by Team Ninja
Release Date: Out Now
Dead or Alive 4, an introduction.
Despite being released early in the Xbox's life, Dead or Alive 3 has been one of the best games on the console. As a fighting game it was superb and indeed looking back on it now it only lacked online play and as the Xbox Live system wasn't up and running at the time of its release it's hardly surprising it didn't include such a feature. What really made people sit up and take notice of Dead or Alive though was the quality of the graphics which were unbelievable and really showed what the Xbox was capable of when in the hands of a skilled development team. In fact it's debatable whether any game in the Xbox's life span ever surpassed the game in terms of graphical quality which shows how well Tecmo's Team Ninja development team had done with the game. It's no surprise then that when it was announced that Dead or Alive 4 was being developed for the Xbox 360 it instantly became one of the consoles most anticipated games.
What's the game about?
Dead or Alive 4 is the latest in the Dead or Alive series and easily the best game in the series to date. The game offers the usual single-modes, Story, Time Attack, Survival, Team Battle and Sparring. You can also watch two AI opponents fight it out or you can take part in a Versus fight or head online to take on the best Dead or Alive players in the World with the new DOA Online mode. Once again the graphics are superb and the character models in particular are something special. The AI has been improved too and really puts up a fierce challenge on the higher difficulty settings. New characters have been added to bring the total to 22.
What's good about the game?
Aside from the outstanding visuals, which we'll talk about later, the main difference is the DOA Online mode. DOA 4 uses the same kind of online system that DOA Ultimate used and once again it works really well. You'll create your avatar, pick a lobby and then join or create your own games. There are six different modes for online play. The game variations on offer in the DOA Online mode are Winner Stays (which is similar to an arcade where the winner stays to fight the next opponent), Tournament, Team Battle, Survival, Loser Stays and Kumite. All of these modes support up to 16 players. The AI has been noticeably improved. In DOA 3 it was possible to find a couple of moves that worked well and keep using them. You'll not be able to do this in DOA 4 as the AI wises up to what you're doing and employs effective counter moves. The new counter moves are at your disposal too and they really make the fights much more engaging and challenging. In fact even on the default difficulty setting the game offers a real challenge and you'll need to make sure you spend time in the Sparring mode to learn all of your favoured character's techniques if you want to do well at the game.
There are quite a few new characters in the game and they feel sufficiently different from the characters that have returned from the previous games. There's Kokoro who uses Ba Ji Quan, Gen Fu's apprentice Eliot who actually looks more like a girl than a boy and the wrestling La Mariposa who uses the Lucha Libre fighting style. There's even a female Spartan (Spartan 458) from the Halo universe who seems to rely on punching more that anything else. As you might expect the character all come with 2 costumes as standard and some have as many as 8 different costumes that can be unlocked. Whichever character you play as though, you'll be impressed with the pace and smoothness of the game. Once again the battles take place in destructible and multi-layered environments which all look far superior to any fighting game that we've ever seen before.
What's not so good about the game?
There's very little to complain about with Dead or Alive 4. There can be a little lag at times when playing online although it's nothing major. I was disappointed to find some of the main characters, such as Helena, were initially locked when they were freely available in other games. The story mode isn't really a story mode at all when you think about it. You simply go from one fight to the next with very little dialogue. You'll need to do the story mode with every character if you want to unlock many of the hidden characters, so you would have thought Team Ninja would have made the whole thing entertaining. Yes you still do get a great looking movie when you complete each character's story but it would have been nice to have had a story that gives a sense of purpose to the fights you have to plough through.
How does it look?
Unsurprisingly the game looks stunning, especially when played on a HD display. If you are playing the game on a standard TV set it's worth mentioning that the game will only play on a TV that supports 60Hz mode which shouldn't be a problem unless you own a fairly old TV set. As we've already said, the character models are amazing and really superb. The famed boob bobbles return and look more realistic than ever. Team Ninja have taken advantage of this and adorned the female character with some rather risqué costumes. The environments you fight in look gorgeous too and you can really imagine a new Ninja Gaiden (or RPG) using these superb graphics. Some of the lighting effects are brilliant and really do look impressive. On the downside there are some clipping issues and some irregularities such as Kokoro's hair which doesn't look natural at all and seems to move in clumps rather than be free flowing.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Deaf gamers won't have any problems with DOA 4, at least not in the single-player game. As with DOA 3 the character talk in Japanese with English subtitles being shown. Online the game supports voice communications which will be problematic for deaf gamers, in regards to communicating with other players, although as with the single-player game all the important information is shown in text so there is no real cause for concern. The game manual has been well written and covers all you need to know to fully enjoy the game. Profiles of each of the fighters have been given too which is good to see as it allows you to quickly find out what fighting style each character uses.
Dead or Alive 4 was one of the most anticipated Xbox 360 launch period titles and despite the game's release being delayed, it doesn't disappoint. Graphically the game is superb and thanks to the new counter system the game plays better than any other title in the DOA series. In fact you could argue it's as good as any 3D fighting game to date. Definitely a must own title for the Xbox 360.
Overall Game Rating: 9.2/10
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Dead or Alive 4 is simply a fantastic sequel that manages to not only impress with its superb visuals but also with how good it plays.