|March 1st, 2009, 22:05||#1|
Hello Cudie Pie!
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Coffs Harbour, Australia
Dead or Alive 4 (360)
Dead or Alive 4
When Tomonobu Itagaki created his secretive Team Ninja development team over a decade ago he wanted to make a great big splash in the video game industry which at the time was dominated by arcade machines, the Super Nintendo and the Playstation and what helped to develop the competitive multiplayer environment for these platforms was the fighting game genre. With major labels taking control with the likes of Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken and the King of Fighting titles sucking up precious pocket change introducing another fighting game was something of a gamble. Fortunately for Itagaki, the anime inspired Dead or Alive was a success and spawned a sequel on the Dreamcast and the Playstation 2, and a third and remake on the Xbox, Itagaki introduced tag team elements, survival modes and online matches for the franchise and of course busty women in skimpy outfits and ninjas, two things that are on young teenagers favourite list. Favouring the pinnacle of gaming hardware and with the arrival of the Xbox 360 in early 2005, Itagaki and his ninja coders were ready once again to take the Dead or Alive franchise into the HD era of videogames. But is there still room in today’s world for fighting games, and a fourth instalment that runs the risk of becoming stale?
Keeping with tradition, there are arcade, tag team, survival and online modes available are standard affairs, with pretty much the same framework as the very solid DOA: Ultimate from the Xbox, so there aren’t really any noticeable flaws. Arcade mode however has been given a bit of a boost in cinematic quality and direction, adding layers of style and posing and humour which can only feel like a DOA title should. The cinematics at the end of the arcade mode for each character have been additionally ramped up in style and campiness, with Zacks being quite cheeky and hyperactive, Ryu’s and Hyate’s being serious and full of brilliant action, and just about all the female endings choosing the most revealing angles to display as much T&A as possible. Visually, they are all very striking, but typical of fighting games, does not add much to the story or explain much of what is going on.
So....you had beans for lunch?
Added to the fighting roster are four new characters. First of all is the familiar La Mariposa aka Lisa from Extreme Beach Volleyball, who is complete with a fighting style resembling that of a Lucha Libre, a high flying Mexican wrestler who jumps around the arena with intricate flips and grapples and is generally a slippery character to get a hold of and is a great addition to the established roster. Second is the Geisha girl Kokoro who has a very controlled fighting style, not unlike Akira from the Virtua Fighter series, her main strengths lie in her powerful strikes and her linking grapples. Quite the technician’s choice. Next is Eliot, the token pre pubescent blonde hair, blue eyed boy who must have been added for the ladies and for the most part fits into the established roster, but I cannot foresee any heterosexual man selecting him as their favourite fighter. Elliott is a pupil of Gen Fu with a fighting style that is mostly heavy hitting, with enough agility to make him hard to hit. If it wasn’t for the gay Lucious Malfoy vibe he is a decent, if confusing addition. The final character, which seems to be completely out of place, even for DOA is the female Spartan Nicole (Spartan 458) from the Halo series who plays as a watered down combination of Bayman and Leon
Not straying from the standard control scheme that has stayed with the series from the beginning, any changes to the controls have been kept to the minimum, with the only noticeable change being the mechanics for tagging characters during any bout and for what Team Ninja have done is pretty much break what was once a solid transition. The shoulder button designated for a tag in Dead or Alive 3 for example was simple, press the button, and the characters swap. In the new instalment though, it is not so responsive, with characters often resorting to throwing a punch rather than switching and during heated battles with defeat imminent, trying to tag out can become an infuriating experience. Grappling has also being broken, with just about every instance, grabbing the enemy is like giving a free ticket for them to grab you, which is quite bemusing. For example, the enemy is standing still, you grab them and they manage to without any rhyme or reason throw you across the arena with you sitting there with a WTF face and a controller in the throw at the TV position.
Hey dad watch me jump. Watch me jump dad. Dad. Dad. Your not watching.
The existing roster however has gone under some heavy refinement to help accommodate the new characters, with new moves and combos added to each fighter, as well as speed and power have been tweaked in effort to make the playing field a little bit more level, however there are still several issues with the design that just can’t seem to be ironed out. For instance, the more heavy hitters, Bayman and Bass have been given quite an overhaul, with moves being a bit more punishing and varied, but still fall far behind in priority for strikes to the likes of the Shinobi Ninjas, who now are incredibly ridiculous to fight against, as their speed is almost untouchable. It is good that some of the lower tier fighters have been boosted in skill, but they just aren’t quite on the same page as the main players.
Also keeping with the theme of making things unbalanced, the end boss in DOA4 can only be described as Cheapy McCheap and her adventures at the bargain sale. The speed, power and priority of this boss means that just about every strike from them will remove ¼ of your health and finally defeating you after approximately 15 seconds. I shouldn’t be too hard on DOA4 though, because just about every fighting has terrible end bosses who are incredibly unbalanced.
So that's what it looks like when you voluntarily land on your own head
Not all black and blue
Taking advantage of the new hardware from the Xbox 360, Team Ninja have taken reign over the console and have managed to squeeze out some majorly gorgeous visuals. Depth of field, bloom, HDR and all kinds of lovely trinkets have been included and with fighter models being huge, detailed and chunky and thrown into beautiful levels with sprawling deserts, intricate market places, gorgeous beaches and high tech laboratories everything visual about this game is incredible to look at. If only the same thing can be said about the female rosters hair which has what I like to call the octopus effect: hair does not fall graciously to the ground and looks as if anyone with long hair in the game has had their lovely locks possessed and with a mind on its own. Considering that everything else is so smooth, this little oversight stands out quite dramatically. Frame rate wise, everything is buttery smooth with zero slowdown and for a fighter that is incredibly important, and coupled with the sumptuous visuals DOA4 is a real treat to see in motion.
Audio has likewise has been beefed up with impacts sounding much crunchier, the voice work with a higher and more energetic tempo and the music typically stylised to keep the fighting action feeling fresh and charged with action. Quite a treat, and with only the Japanese voice track, everything feels right and in place.
Fool! I said it's my penny on the ground!
It is hard not to fall in love with how drop dead gorgeous DOA4 really is, especially when playing in HD, but by increasing the speed and tempo of the game DOA4, ends up feeling like it hadn’t been fully balanced out and ultimately feels a bit broken. For what does work however, works incredibly well, and in a person vs person situation battles are incredibly tense and enjoyable and keep you coming back, despite its design flaws. As a fighter it does not reach the balance that was achieved with DOA3, but the speed increase in combat couples with the well established controls (despite being a bit broken) means that DOA4 is a good addition to the series and is a great buy for fighting fans, or those who like to ogle virtual ladies.
Gameplay – 86
Visuals – 92
Audio – 92
Overall – 88
A great addition to the series, even with its balancing and mechanical flaws.
Game experience on Sony Bravia at 1080i with 7.2 surround sound
My grass is the greenest.
Last edited by snickothemule; March 2nd, 2009 at 02:11..
|March 1st, 2009, 22:20||#2|
Hackin 'n Slashin
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Most-expensive-Internet-on-the-Planet Land : South Africa
Another great review Snick
You won't get me to buy this one as well though
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The Champ has retired but may his Legacy live on FOREVER !!!!
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Last edited by SCHUMI_4EVER; March 1st, 2009 at 22:31..
|March 5th, 2009, 19:00||#3|
Join Date: Dec 2005
|March 6th, 2009, 23:39||#4|
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Melbourne, Australia
|March 7th, 2009, 01:06||#5|
Join Date: Apr 2005
nice review snick... I recently played the demo and initially the speed increase (compared to doa2) confused me, but after just a few rounds I was back in charge...
from what I played, i't's a lot like DOA2, but faster and prettier.