Countdown to Dead or Alive 5 - Day 4: Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate

oh, hi there. i'm Ajay and i'm so excited for Dead or Alive 5 that i'm hella bloggin' until September 25th, when DOA5 hits shelves in North America. i'm playing through every game in the series and i figure i may as well blog about them while i'm at it! yesterday, i took a lengthy look at Dead or Alive 3-- DOA's debut on the Xbox which you can check out over here.

here's what i've done so far:

there are only five days until DOA5 releases. isn't that.. completely insane? hearing Jeff talk about the story mode on the latest bombcast makes me imagine that it's going to be as messed up and ridiculous as it ever was before. it should be lots of fun.

however, that's still five days until. let's talk about a game that's out now!

Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate (2004) - Xbox

this box art is pretty alright, actually
this box art is pretty alright, actually

Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate is a remake of DOA2 for the Xbox, with updated graphics, cutscene, stages, and all sorts of stuff. i already covered Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore on the Playstation 2, but this version is a pretty huge leap from that game, and contains some major series additions well worth discussing in its own blog.

What's New?

Dead or Alive 2 has two of the most important additions to the series that shaped the way for DOA4 and 5. the first one is the addition of multiplayer over Xbox Live. a bunch of dudes could get together in what i think was.. eight player lobbies and beat the hell out of each other, complete with tag team and tournament modes, leaderboards and some other online goodies. i never played DOA2U over Xbox Live, so i can't say much about the quality of the netcode but it was a pretty big leap for the series.

in addition to online play, Team NINJA changed up the counter system this time around. usually, how the counter system worked is that you could use three inputs to counter incoming strikes. you could counter high, med and low strikes. in DOA2U, they changed it so you have to counter med kicks and med punches separately. prior, you could just hold back + hold button (usually X on the Xbox controller) and you could counter both med punches and kicks, but this time around you have to press forward + hold to counter kicks, and back + hold for punches. at first, it seems like a small change but it's a total game changer, giving offensive players more chances to pull off varied combos and defensive players couldn't simply mash out counter holds as much as they could before.

oh crap! look who it is!
oh crap! look who it is!

so, there you go. two huge additions to DOA2U that made a pretty big difference to how the game played. along with that, if you've got a DOA3 or DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball save, you could totally unlock Hitomi as a playable character. she wasn't introduced until Dead or Alive 3, so it's pretty cool that she's in this time around, even if she's not playable in story mode. also, while it's small, the addition of special grabs while you're near a slope or stairs is a a cool ass addition, too.

They weren't kidding

what do you get when you take Dead or Alive 2, an already great game and inject it full of new costumes, stages, music and overall content? you get nothing other than Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate-- my personal favorite Dead or Alive game. it's a game that when i start, i can't stop playing. the Dead or Alive 2 fighting system, with graphics that still look pretty good today and even better music than before makes for one hell of a package-- and that doesn't even include the online play.

i've already said what i had to say about Dead or Alive 2 before. it was a game that improved upon DOA1 greatly with wonderful interactive stages, a slew of brand new moves and a much better overall feel with combos and the fighting in general. things remain largely unchanged apart from the addition of some new grabs, and the change in the counter system. the change to make the counter system more complex is something i didn't like at first, but after spending a lot of time with this changed counter system, there are things i still don't like that much about it, but it makes the game a lot more rewarding for players who spend their time practicing combos and mix-ups, and simply don't want to be beaten by somebody who just decides to mash counter holds and hope that they get lucky.

at times, this game is pretty as hell
at times, this game is pretty as hell

coming from Dead or Alive 3, DOA2U looks pretty stunning for both the time period and console that it's running on. being a 2004 release, i continue to be stunned by how gorgeous this game looks sometimes. there's a lot more detail this time around, such as trails in the snow when the fighters move around in it, seeing the characters' breath in cold weather, and other small details that i appreciate. the boobs are.. crazy again unlike how they were in Dead or Alive 3, but it's something that ya deal with, and don't even notice as you play more and more.

the stages in Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate are, in my opinion, the best stages in the entire series. it takes already great stages from Dead or Alive 2, and updates the a bunch, adding in more interactivity with the environment, Danger Zones and generally makes them a lot more fun to play in. in addition to that, it sports a bunch of new stages that both look great and are ton of fun to play in. new stages such as The Great Wall of China, a booming night club and a rainy courtyard during a thunder storm (which remains the only stage in the series where it rains) are great new additions that stack up with the older stages to make a pretty big amount of variety in stages. added Danger Zones to older stages such as throwing an opponent off a rooftop and through a huge neon sign, destroying all of the lights and then having it break off and fall onto the street below are nice additions too that spice up already great stages.

as if that weren't enough, Team NINJA added a ton of new costumes for each character-- especially the female characters, of course. some characters can get up to twenty costumes.

TWENTY COSTUMES. THAT'S NOT EVEN LIKE, DLC OR LIKE, ADD ON CONTENT OR ANYTHING.

looks like they just couldn't get rid of the DOAXBV vibe
looks like they just couldn't get rid of the DOAXBV vibe

that's a lot of costumes, and while some of them have really questionable designs, such as Hitomi's costume where she wears a polka-dotted bikini top, jeans and then heels don't really make that much sense, but there's a good majority of them that are good enough to forget about those odd ones. a few of them are just palette swaps, but maybe i'm just biased because this game contains all of my favorite Lei Fang and Ayane costumes. there are some bikini costumes thrown in there, which was part of what earned the game an M rating (first for the series excluding DOAXBV) but at least they were good picks. real good.

finally, DOA2U features the best soundtrack out of every game in the series. while that's not saying much, it's crazy how they managed to make the DOA2 soundtrack even better. instead, they found a way by making some pretty cool remixes of DOA2 character themes. most of them are pretty good, such as the Ayane, Lei Fang, Kasumi, Jann Lee and Ein remixes. a special note of Helena's remix, which is probably my all time favorite DOA track.

there's an online component too. as i said before, i think up to 8 dudes could join up in a lobby and beat each other senseless. however, i picked up on DOA2U around the time that the original Xbox servers were shut down, so i never got to play my favorite Dead or Alive game online. it's disappointing, and it, for some reason gives me some curiosities on how online play worked on the last gen consoles (fyi, i had a modded PS2 so i couldn't play it online). sometimes i really wish that the servers didn't shut down, but what's done is done, and if i really wanted to, i could probably set up a weird private server. people are probably still playing original Xbox games online somehow.

oh, and i know.. Dead or Alive 3 plays like how DOA2 did, and i wasn't too fond of that game in my write-up, but DOA2U comes with a lot more additions, unlockables and better refinements to the system than DOA3 did. it's a game that i can easily spend a lot more time with.

DOA2's Story: Now with 100% more CG

the story is the same as it was in DOA2, though new to Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate was this CG opening that it had, explaining the origins of Kasumi, Ayane and Hayate as they were kids. it also shows Raidou totally beating the hell out of everybody. it's.. weird. check it out if you want:

there's all sorts of dark shit, like rape and this entire village being total dicks to Ayane for something that wasn't her fault. it's probably the most story that DOA ever got until Dimensions was a thing.

That's about it

finally. i'm done. now i can go play more of this game.

come back tomorrow. our special is gonna be Dead or Alive 4, the series debut on current gen consoles and the DOA game i, no doubt spent the most time with.

thanks for reading.

~Ajay

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