hola. welcome (or welcome back if applicable) to my Dead or Alive blog series where i cover a DOA game that i've played once a day until Dead or Alive 5's NA release on September 25th. i didn't get to cover a game yesterday because i went to a concert (which was pretty fun) and didn't have enough time on Thursday to make a write-up in advance. last time, i covered Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate-- my favorite Dead or Alive game. you can check that out here if you'd like.
here's what i've done so far:
- September 17th - Dead or Alive 1 Ultimate
- September 18th - Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore
- September 19th - Dead or Alive 3
- September 20th - Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate
- September 22nd - Dead or Alive 4
Dead or Alive 5 is three days away until release, which is still pretty surreal. i mean.. it's a weird feeling that the wait is almost finally over. however, let's stop talking about that for the time being and let's check out DOA's debut on current gen consoles-- Dead or Alive 4.
Dead or Alive 4 (2005) - Xbox 360
Dead or Alive 4 was the first fighting game on current gen consoles. it was originally supposed to launch with the Xbox 360, but it was delayed for a bit, and instead was released in December 2005. this would be the last Dead or Alive fighting game under Tomonobu Itagaki's supervision.
DOA4 was a next generation leap for the series, but it didn't have as big of a change in most aspects than i thought there would be. with that said, there are still some pretty big changes.
Dead or Alive 4 features a lot of changed moves for every character. some move strings from previous entires have been extended, while some have been replaced with brand new strings. we have new strikes, grabs, charge-up moves and counter holds for most characters. Team NINJA have also made it so move connect and flow into each other a lot easier, making combos and juggles a hell of a lot more easier to discover and pull off than in previous games. before, it was cool to pull off like, 6 hit combos and shit but DOA4 says fuck that where 7 hits are the norm just by mashing the Y button, which could be considered a problem or a plus, depending on how you look at it. although thanks to these additions, DOA4 feels a lot more refined in its fighting, and gives some sort of satisfaction to the moves that no other game in the series prior to it can provide.
while we're on the subject of gameplay, they've done a lot of changes to how the damage is dealt. they have made every move in the game deal more damage, making Dead or Alive 4 a game where you definitely cannot take as many hits as you could before. to go along with this change, every counter hold does a ton of damage now, to go along with the more complex four-point counter hold system introduced in DOA2 Ultimate. they've also shortened the window where a counter hold attempt is effective. these changes make DOA4 a lot more difficult and more complex than any other game in the series. players simply cannot mash out counter attempts, or at least not to the effect as they could before. counter holds are more difficult this time around, but they're ultimately a lot more rewarding. there's also some new stuff too such as knockback from blocking too long and more options when attacking an opponent on the ground.
Dead or Alive Online returns, and with some cool features too. DOA2U features 8 player matches, but Team NINJA wasn't taking any of that and bumped it up to 16 player lobbies. that's an obscene amount of players for an online fighting game. they've also introduced a new lobby system, where players can purchase and customize little avatars with in-game "Zack Dollars", then interact with others players in fun, colorful lobbies while waiting for the host to start a game, or maybe just to hang out and chat.
finally, we've got some new characters in the mix. DOA4 introduced Kokoro, some teenage geisha lady who has ties to DOATEC, La Mariposa, a DOATEC scientist named Lisa introduced in Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball who debuts in DOA4 as a masked luchadora, and Eliot, the successor to Gen-Fu.
other small additions include a snapshot mode where you can take screenshots of matches from your replays or from the game's CPU watch mode, more aggressive opponent AI and some small changes in the story mode, where not every single character fights the trademark, terrible final boss.
New generation, new frustration
Dead or Alive 4 is a game that i like a lot. i've spent a lot of time playing it with friends and randoms, and having a good time for the most part. while i have spent a lot of time with this game, not all of it has been fun. i always feel like a fighting game shines the most with other human players, and the amount of time i spent playing Dead or Alive 4 with others players highlighted some of the best strengths of the series, while some things that i don't particularly enjoy about it.
i feel like i should adress the problems i have with Dead or Alive 4 first. probably one of the biggest things i dislike about it, is its single player. Dead or Alive's single player modes have always had reasonable difficulty, with the occasional tough opponent and the unfortunately designed boss fights at the end of each character's story. this time around, however, they cranked up the difficulty, in what i would assume to be a change going along with the other mechanics that have been made more difficult and complex. this hasn't resulted in a single player experience that's challenging and fun, but rather one that's frustrating and far from fun.
there's always been some sort of oddity with fighting games and artificial intelligence. a big part of fighting games comes from move inputs, and getting the hang of timing, execution and everything along those lines. i'm pretty sure fucking robot intelligence doesn't have to worry about getting an input wrong, or getting the timing down on a combo. with this said, Dead or Alive's fighting mechanics are heavily based around those factors, especially the counter system. it's never fun when the AI counters a fine amount of your moves with absolute perfection, while pulling off flawless combos. it's something like this that the more aggressive AI has, and it doesn't make seeing the game's endings or enjoying most of the single player content to be any fun at all. every win on an AI opponent doesn't feel like you've learned something, but rather it just feels like you were lucky.
of course, i can't mention the game's AI without Alpha-152-- the game's final boss. an enhanced bioweapon, originally a perfect clone of Kasumi is one of the worst things to happen to the entire series. of course, one of the worst things in the series is tied to Kasumi.
seriously. fuck this thing. set on a stage remisant of the Danger Zone exploding floors from Dead or Alive 1, Alpha-152 is a boss fight where you throw all of your skill out the window and just hope that you can somehow win without Alpha catching you with one of her grabs that deplete roughly 50% of your health bar. complete with some moves that can't be countered and incredibly devastating attacks, she's not making the game's already-dreadful single player any better.
while i'd say to avoid the single player at all costs, that's where you unlock characters and stages.. so.. take your pick.
Wait a sec.. this game is actually pretty fun
once you're done tearing your hair out at the game's single player mode, bring a friend over and enjoy what the game has to offer. Dead or Alive 4 is easily the best feeling game in the series. hits pack a punch thanks to good sound design, moves flow and connect easily and well and it all makes for a game that's easy to pick up and play against a player of the same skill level. with easier moves to connect, comes easier, longer and more fun juggles and combos to pull off. i feel like i got a lot more creative with combos in DOA4 more than in any other entry in the series, which always brought me back to training mode to try out new setups and juggles. it's not only good for advanced players to extend their game, but it's easier for new players to pull off some cool shit without much knowledge of how the game works. once again, based on your perspective, this could be a good or bad thing. it makes the game more accessible to new players but it also means that new players can easily pull off powerful combos without much skill.
DOA4 also looks pretty damn good today, even for a 2005 game. it's colorful, vibrant and it has some nice detail in its stages. the character models, while still looking like plastic dolls, they still look pretty nice and animate exceptionally well. if there's any complaint i have about the visuals, it's that the hair looks fucking creepy. DOA4 has added some sort of weird dynamic hair physics that change based on the stage and character movements, and all the time it looks like the hair is some horrible hair monster taking over the body of every character with long hair, just flowing in weird strands, clipping through everything and just generally looking bad. apart from that, DOA4 is a treat to the eyes nearly seven years later, in both its presentation and graphics.
the stages in DOA4 are pretty good. a lot of them, such as on the street of a vegas strip or on a seaside market are fun, full of interactivity and are a treat to the eye. however, they're somewhat disappointing compared to the large number of great stages in DOA2 Ultimate. DOA4 online has three stages for tag team play, while DOA2U must have featured at least 5 or 6, which makes seeing those three stages get old fast. some of the stages are a swing and miss, such as the stage full of dinosaurs.. which sounds like it would be cool, but it's ugly and full of obstacles that just get in the way of the fighting instead of adding a layer of fun to it.
this game also features its fair share of unlockables, too. Ein, Gen-Fu, Helena, Leon, Tengu and a fucking Spartan are unlockable characters, while there are unlockable costumes, stages, and system voices which are voices that say stuff like "K.O.!" and "Get ready.. fight!". the costumes are alright, but after the mass amount of unlockable costumes in Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate, it's disappointing to come to the next game in the series that doesn't offer as many costumes. Ayane went from having 20 unlockable costumes to a mere 6, but at least they're nice for what they are. unfortunately, characters like Hitomi get screwed over with the same costume taking up 3 costumes slots, each one just different colors.
lastly, the music could quite possibly be the most forgettable soundtrack in the entire series. off the top of my head right now, i can barely remember any of the music from this game, and even if i could, i bet i couldn't match the themes with the characters. they're so boring that you're much better off setting the game music to 0 and playing your own music if you haven't already. La Mariposa's theme may be the only memorable theme from this game. Aerosmith is in there for the intro, and the DOA2U remix themes play in a nightclub stage, but there's nothing of note apart from that.
Dead or Alive 4 is a weird game to write about. it's something i played for a long time but never really got serious with until about.. the last year or so. it feels great to play, but it has a lot of flaws that really hurt the game overall. Team NINJA had a lot to live up to after DOA2 Ultimate, and while they didn't succeed in making a game with as much content or as wonderfully designed, they still managed to put out a fun, easy to pick up fighter that kept my attention for a good while.
All Wired Up
i spent most of my time on Dead or Alive 4 playing online. it's somewhat flawed, but it's functional enough to my fill of DOA Online. featuring 16 player lobbies, various modes and a ranking system, it's pretty fully features for what it is. however.. probably the biggest issue i have with it is that there's only ranked matches. every match you play online, private or not is a match that puts your rank and points at stake, which is seriously lame considering it's a sacrifice whenever you play with people who are new to the game, or those who purposely de-rank themselves so they can de-rank other players more quickly, since you lose more points whenever you lose to an opponent that's a lower rank.
DOA Online has some other weird quirks of its own. for one, you can't leave an online match if there's only one other player in the lobby. it always gives the winning player control of the lobby. say if you're getting beaten badly and you want to leave the game, you can't unless the host decides to go back to the lobby where you can quit the game. unless somebody else joins (so you can quit during their match), the only wan you can quit a 1v1 online game is by quitting to the dashboard. it's stupid as hell, but as one of the first Xbox 360 games, i'm not sure if i have the right to blame it or not.
besides these issues, DOA online is actually a lot of fun. when the connection isn't like playing underwater, it's a great way to test your skills against other crazy-good players.
There's still a story, apparently
- Kasumi finds Hayate, and begs him to come back to the Mugen Tenshin village with her. Ayane shows up and beats the hell out of her.
- Ayane, Hayate and Ryu storm the DOATEC HQ, planning to destroy DOATEC after all the dick moves they pulled on the Mugen Tenshin clan. Kasumi shows up too.
during the attack, Alpha-152, an enhanced form of the Kasumi clone from DOA2 breaks free and causes all sorts of chaos along with the ninjas fucking everything up.
- Helena, the new president of DOATEC after her father was assassinated, sees all of the horrible stuff that DOATEC has done, and decides to self-destruct the HQ, taking her own life along with it. she also finds out that Christie was the one who killed her mother.
- Kasumi defeats Alpha-152 in the Biolab Core where Alpha was stored, and the whole building starts blowing up and shit. Kasumi tries to run into the flames to save Helena, but Ayane-- the one who's supposed to assassinate her, pulls her back from getting herself killed. the ninjas escape.
- Helena, about to die from the DOATEC HQ blowing up, gets saved by Zack for some reason swing by in a helicopter. everything explodes. the end.
i wonder if i got all of that right, but that's roughly what happens. most of that is shown in Helena's ending the game still features weird CG endings, but Lei Fang's ending is my favorite in the entire series:
That's about it
wow. this was a long one. as Dead or Alive: Dimensions-- the first DOA fighting game on a handheld.said, i'm starting to get tired of DOA4. i just want 'em to bring on DOA5! tomorrow, i'll try to cover
thanks for reading.