reviews\ Nov 8, 2004 at 7:00 pm

Dead or Alive Ultimate - XB - Review

After months of waiting and a couple delays, Dead or Alive Ultimate has finally arrived for the Xbox, and I can say without any hesitation that it was definitely worth the wait. For the first time ever, all three games in the Dead or Alive series are playable on one system, and it is a nice treat for Team Ninja to do that for its fans. This game is one of the best fighting games around and you would be a fool not to pick this game up and have it in your collection. Read on to find out why Dead or Alive Ultimate is so great!

Dead or Alive Ultimate is a compilation of Dead or Alive 1 and Dead or Alive 2, each on its own disk. Dead or Alive 1 is an exact replica of the same game that was released on the Sega Saturn so many years ago. This is a really nice treat because this might be the first time, including myself, that players get the chance to play the game that started it all for this series. Since it is an exact replica the graphics remain the same, so players will be playing with more “boxy” polygonal character models. It is amazing that even though this game has changed so much it still feels the same.

Looks like someone learned to improvise!

The arenas in this mode are a riot. The rings are composed of two squares, the inside one is “safe zone”, so if you fall down or get knocked down to the ground, the only damage you take is from the force it took you to get down there. If you go outside of this zone, the rest of the arena is what I like to call “lava.” What I mean by this is if you get knocked down on this part of the game, your life will get deducted by how much force it took to get you down there plus once you hit the ground you will be knocked upwards, like a volcano blast, and you will receive more damage. Since there are no walls to get cornered, players will always have to be aware of where they are located so they don’t take additional damage. If you want to play online with Dead or Alive 1, you will be able to. All you have to do is sign on and get your “fight on.”

The main focus of this compilation was placed on Dead or Alive 2, and it will become apparent when you first boot up this game and see the intro CGI movie. This game looks better then Dead or Alive 3, which became one of the benchmarks of the graphical power of the Xbox when it was released. This game truly shows the power of the Xbox. The character models look just as good as the CGI movie, which looks awesome itself. The clothes on the characters move and have their own set of physics that move realistically as clothing might be expected to if you are fighting someone.

The enviroments are a sight to behold.

The most noticeable thing is the arenas that the characters fight in; they are a jaw-dropping awesome sight to behold. Every level there is some interactivity involved, from things going on in the background, breaking through walls and going to new parts of the level, or little subtle things. There is always something going on in the background, in one level you will be fighting in a chained off arena, and ever so often there will be cops chasing cars throughout the level, which gives it a very surreal feeling while you are playing. Just like in Dead or Alive 3, there are many different “levels” to particular arenas. One of my favorite is on the snowy mountain. While you are fighting through the level you can make the snow move around, and if you get the person close enough to the cliff you can knock them down to an icy lake below. From there you can even knock the players into icicles and make them shatter. This is truly a sight to behold.

The subtle things throughout each level might be the hundreds of leaves or cherry blossoms that are floating around the level, get stirred up if you walk through a pile of them. While this might not seem like much, you will have to remember that each of those leaves have a polygonal count and move throughout the level while you are performing a beat down on an enemy. All of this is going on without any slowdown, how remarkable is that!  It is literally amazing all of the details that went into making this game look this great, and still remain highly playable without any hint of slowdown.

Nothing like a swift kick to the face to wake you up in the morning.

The roster for this game is the exact same as it was back on the Playstation 2. You will find all of your old favorites included with the exact same fighting moves. Some might be disappointed that several moves might be missing that were in Dead or Alive 3, but you will have to remember that this is a remake. One of the biggest draws for this game is the amount of costumes unlockable for each character. Many of the girls have over fifteen completely different costumes, and I am not talking about one costume is purple while the other exact same one is red. The costumes are 100% different from one another, such as School girl outfit, bathing suits, Santa Outfits, to many other things. It will take players a long time to collect them all, but it is rewarding once you have done it.

The audio portion of Dead or Alive 2 is great, but could have been better. It features Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, which makes the fights feel more “alive,” especially in certain levels such as the one where the cops are chasing cars around the block. The Japanese voiceovers are what one might expect from this game, and fit the characters really well. The only disappointing thing is that this game doesn’t support custom soundtracks. While it is nice to hear all of the music from the game, I would have liked to fight with the music of my choice, especially after playing the game for many hours.

Fighting on a bridge is always fun!

Here is the part you are waiting most for, the online portion of this game that has been talked about for months on end. Before I get into specific details, I will say that it is one of the best features of the game! As you know if you have an Xbox Live account you can fight anyone across the world and it feels just like they are sitting next to you. There are times when you might have a few fights that are “laggy” but they are few and far between. Another thing of interest is when you unlock a new costume you will be able to use it while you are online, so if you see someone using your favorite character with a costume you have not seen before, you will know that it can be unlocked and used for your character as well.

The modes that are available online are: Spectator, Winner-Stays, Tournament, Team Battle, Survival, Loser-Stays, Kumite. In spectator mode, players will be able to view the battles currently raging on. In Winner-Stay players fight a one on one match, and the winner of the match will stay and take on the next challenger. In Tournament players will advance to each round until one person is declared a winner. Team Battle, players will be able to challenge other players in Tag-Team Battles. Survival mode players fight battle after battle until their health is depleted. In Loser-Stays, is the exact opposite of winner-stays. Kumite is a non stop battle, in which win or lose a person fights all the challengers until they quit. With all of these modes available, you will not be able to get any sleep as there is so much to do!

Dead or Alive Ultimate is rated M for Mature.

Review Scoring Details for Dead or Alive Ultimate

Gameplay: 9.6

This is one of the most fluid fighting games around. Each of the moves that you want to execute performs flawlessly and looks great at the same time. It is a blast to play from all the different fighting modes to playing against another human online, you will not be disappointed. One very interesting thing is the developers detailed all of the different fighting styles their characters use in the Dead or Alive 2 manual. This helps you understand more of the game and have a better appreciation of it.

Graphics: 9.7

Dead or Alive Ultimate is one of, if not the best, looking game on the Xbox at this very moment. I know that is saying a lot with Halo 2 about to be unleashed, but this game does look that good. Each game that Team Ninja develops for the Xbox is nothing short of breath taking, and this game is no exception. The character models are almost CGI like, the articles or clothing move realistically, and the backgrounds are exceptional!  If you want to show a friend the power of the Xbox you will want to show them this game.

Sound: 9.1

Dead or Alive Ultimate makes use of Dolby Digital 5.1 and players will be able to notice this from the moment that they boot up the game. The sound effects in each of the arenas sound exceptionally good, and almost a feeling of being “alive”. The voice over work is also really good. The music is good but the only problem with it is we have heard it all before, especially if you have played Dead of Alive 2 (any of the versions). I just wish that the developers added Custom Soundtrack support so we could listen to music of our choice instead of the same old music.

Difficulty: Medium

The AI in this game is adjustable to suit your specific needs. However that won’t prevent some of the characters being really “cheap,” especially the end boss of Dead or Alive 1.

Concept: 9.2

Even though this game is a rehash of already released games, it is a wonderful game. There is a multitude of costumes to unlock for each character, and having so many fighting options while playing online is a great thing. Also it was nice to have the ability to play Dead or Alive 1 for the first time.

Multiplayer: 9.6

Playing against a friend is always fun, but Dead or Alive Ultimate gives you the opportunity to fight against people from around the world! Yes for the first time you will be able to show how great you are in Dead or Alive and then back it up. This game flows as smooth as silk while you are online and have a good connection. I did play in a few matches where my opponent was really “laggy”, which made the fight look like something out of the Matrix, but those games were few and far between.

Overall: 9.6

What are you waiting for?? Get off the computer and go to the nearest electronics store and purchase Dead or Alive Ultimate. This game is one of the best looking games that you can own for the Xbox. Not only that but this game is so fun that you will not mind playing it over and over and over again to unlock all of the costumes each character has. If you do get bored with playing the single player then login to Xbox Live and see if you have what it takes to become the best Dead or Alive player in the world!


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