reviews\ Jan 11, 2006 at 7:00 pm

Dead or Alive 4 - 360 - Review

Since the first time I played Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore on the PlayStation 2, I have been hooked on the series. I find that this fighting game offers many things that other fighters at the time didn’t offer, such as multi-tiered fighting levels and a variety of different costumes for characters, not just clothes painted different colors. Since that time I have played every Dead or Alive game and own just about all of them that are out for current gaming systems. When I saw Dead or Alive 4, I knew that this was one of the games that I had to get when I purchased a new Xbox 360. I was very disappointed to hear that the game was not going to be available at launch, and even more saddened that this game kept getting pushed back. Well the wait is finally over and I have my hands on Dead or Alive 4, and I like what I see. Read on to find out why you should go purchase this game immediately.

This game has various game modes that will keep you entertained for hours on end, and has been included in most of all Dead or Alive games. You can play in the story mode, time attack, survival, sparing, and other modes. The story mode for this game is just as confusing as all the other games, but seeing the ending movies (as well as the “true” ending) is completely worth the time that you have put in trying to beat this game.

If you have to think of a game developer that truly showed off the power of the original Xbox the most common answer has to have been Team Ninja. Developing such games as Dead or Alive 2, Dead or Alive Ultimate, Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, and let’s not forget Ninja Gaiden, this is one development team that knows how to pull out all the punches (pun intended) and create dazzling looking games. Dead or Alive 4 is no exception as this game is downright gorgeous and overflowing with graphical goodness.

All of the characters that you will be able to fight with are meticulously modeled and look great. What makes it even better is that every character has at least three various costumes (and the best part is that many of those costumes are completely different from one another). This is compounded by the fact that the clothes move realistically when the characters move and react accordingly. Then there are the stages. With every new Dead or Alive game I look with keen anticipation to know what new stages will be included, because Team Ninja puts in stages that are very interactive and it is always a trip (sometimes literally) to see what new ways to knock people to the next floor and to see what sort of interactivity has been included.

For instance in this game you will find out that the levels will react with the players. The Las Vegas level has cars that are constantly going up and down and sometimes they will try to serve to miss hitting you and other times they hit you. Also in that level you will see people on the sidelines cheering you on and moving around the level (on the sidelines) as you are fighting. Another level has a cheetah in it, and if you get it its line of sight it will come charging towards you knocking you down. It is things like this that make this game a real blast to play - just to find out what will happen next.

Just like every Dead or Alive game you will find out that there are plenty of unlockable costumes and various other things. Not to disappoint the fans of the game, the developers made it that the more you play the game and beat its various modes you will be able to unlock items such as many different costume changes as well as new characters to use in other game modes. This gives the game a longer shelf life and ensures that it will remain in your Xbox 360 longer.

The audio for the game is pretty good, but could have been a lot better. The language for all of the characters is defaulted to Japanese, which is a shame. Since the characters come from all over the world, I think it would have been really interesting to hear them talk in their native languages. This is only a minor complaint as it really doesn’t affect the gameplay but it would have been really nice. The music is decent, but nothing to write home about, you will find yourself listening to custom soundtracks more then anything.

What I really liked is the game’s use of surround sound, because it makes many of the arenas that you fight in sound more realistic with the effects coming from different areas. Also the punches and kicks sound really good when they are hitting the various characters. You can almost feel the punch hit your face by the sound that is produced by it. While the sound category is good, it just could have used a little more improvement.

The online mode is one of the biggest things that you might have heard about for this game, and for a good reason. The lobbies that Team Ninja developed are completely insane and really have little to nothing to do with the actual game, but that makes it so cool to play around with. You see the more that you fight online with people (and win) you will collect money to buy various things such as new lobbies, upgrades for your lobbies and customization options for you avatar. The avatar represents you as you run around in a lobby waiting to play the next fighter in line. It is quite funny to go into the various lobbies to see what crazy avatars are running around. Even though this has very little to do with the actual game, it is a very nice and pleasant diversion and gives you a reason to keep winning so you can buy more things.

The actual fighting in the online mode is really nice. If you create a lobby you will notice that you have various options to choose from, such as how long each match you want to go, how many points per match, game type, how many players you want in your lobby, and many more. I find it best and normally set it to where only four to five people in my lobbies because it allows players to get more fighting time in. I have fought in lobbies where there are 10 players and if you lose it takes a year and a day to actually get to fight again. So I find it easier to create my own lobby with my own set of rules, thankfully I have a connection that is fast enough to support this.

I have only two real complaints against this game and they both revolve around lag and freezing. I have played a lot of matches online and at least one time there will be this guy that logs on that lags the game out, which makes it very unfair for the characters playing. I haven’t run into any lag in any other Xbox 360 games, and while it doesn’t happen too often, when it does the whole experience is ruined till that person will leave. Also this game is prone to freeze and it always happens at the same time. If someone presses the Xbox Guide button or logs in to the lobby when a match has ended the game will seemingly lag out and in some cases completely freeze to where you have to manually turn off the Xbox 360. While this doesn’t freeze a lot, the serious lag time to go into another match happens more often then I would like. Even with these two bad things, the game is a complete blast to play online and you will enjoy every minute of it, especially if you are on a 10-game winning streak.

Just like all Xbox 360 games, Dead or Alive 4 contains various achievements that can be unlocked. While most are unlocked by beating the game under certain requirements; a few of these achievements are quite hilarious and show Team Ninja’s quirky sense of humor. For instance there is one achievement that is unlocked if you lose five times in a row on a online match, while you do not get any points for this, it is funny to see on your game achievement screen.

Dead or Alive 4 is rated M for Mature.

Review Scoring Details for Dead or Alive 4

Gameplay: 9.4
The thing that made this series so fun is that all of the characters have their own various fighting styles, which makes each match more interesting as you will never know what the other characters will throw at you. All of the changes the developers made to the game make it better then ever, and lets players devise more strategies, especially since encounters are harder to successfully pull off. Overall you will find that many hours of your life will be drained away playing this game.

Graphics: 9.7
Dead or Alive 4 is downright gorgeous, one of the best games that I have seen on any system. Everything is very detailed from the character models to the various stages that you will fight upon. There are some collision detection issues with the hair on the characters that gets annoying but it is easily overlooked because it is only noticeable when you win a match.

Sound: 8.5
For the most part, fighting games are really not known for their breathtaking soundtrack, and Dead or Alive 4 continues in this trend. While the music is not bad, per se, it is just not up to par with the rest of the game. Thankfully, just like any Xbox 360 game you can just turn on your own soundtrack which makes this game a lot more fun, especially if you are jamming out to various Prodigy songs while fighting.

Difficulty: Medium
If you have played a Dead of Alive game in the past you will know what basics to expect, but the game will still be very challenging because a lot of the moves have been redone. Players can only get better with more experience and taking the time to go through the sparring program to get better and perform combos and counters better.

Concept: 9.2
Dead or Alive 4 adds quite a few interesting things to the series and the most outlandish is the new online lobby system. You will see very weird avatars running around in many rooms with tricked-out accessories. This makes the game have some nice distractions and makes you want to win more matches online to purchase these things.

Multiplayer: 9.4
The online lobby mode is really cool, interesting, and very unique. It is very cool being in a winter wonderland lobby watching fights going on, chilling out with the characters, as well as checking out all of the various avatars representing the other players. Online fighting is nice; the only killer is when you get a person who has a really slow connection which screws the rest of the characters with a bad case of lag.

Overall: 9.3
I love the Dead of Alive series; it is one of my favorite fighting games to play, especially against friends. Like I said earlier, this is one of the games I was purchasing an Xbox 360 for, especially at launch. Even though this game didn’t make it on launch day, this is still one of the best fighting games I have played in a while. With over 45 achievements to collect and never-ending fighting matches online, you will not run out of things to do in this game for a long time.


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