Dead or Alive 4 is deliciously addictive. Avid fans of the series who also happen to be fortunate souls that nabbed a 360 should already have this title in their collection; and if you don't, then perhaps it's time to start re-evaluating your priorities. Regardless of your skill level or gender, this game demands your attention.
Just another fighter?
At its core, DOA4 is pretty much a more polished version of DOA3 – it's faster, more intense and looks simply gorgeous. Most of the familiar graphic effects that dazzle our eyes and senses are here to eternally adore. There are some clipping issues, mainly in the hair and the clothing, but it doesn't bother me nearly as much as some purists. It is disappointing, however, that even in this current age of next-generation systems, such graphic imperfections still exist. That aside, those of you who pay special attention to the boob physics will find that they're more realistically represented here as well. Not that I actually had much time to make comparisons during battle, of course...
DOA4 also introduces several new characters: La Mariposa (who fans may remember as Lisa from Dead or Alive Xtreme Volleyball) plays a lot like Tekken's Eddy Gordo. Then you have Gen Fu's protégé, Eliot, who has a bit of an androgynous look, but kicks a lot of ass. Finally, there's Kokoro, whose style feels like a cross of Gen Fu and Hitomi mixed together. If asked to pick a personal favorite out of all three, I'd have to put my vote on Kokoro. She's got some great high/low attack techniques that allows her to consistently keep the pressure on her opponent. Then of course, you all know that Bungie worked out a deal to bring over the spirit of Master Chief in the form of a female Spartan who packs quite a punch. What she lacks in speed, she makes up for in a chain of powerful attacks and throws. You haven't lived until you've managed to attach a sticky bomb on an opponent and send them off to an explosive demise. To be honest, I plan on using them all, but I am having a tough time giving up my love for Christie and Helena.
How did you get so tough?
Team Ninja did a remarkable job tightening up the mechanics. Executing moves remains as simple as ever before, which is great if you're a button masher and lack the time and will to actually learn something beyond P, P, P, P, and P/K. Yes, even those of you that wail on the buttons can be considered a force to be reckoned with. Reversing moves, however, does require a bit more skill than guesswork, and the developers saw fit to tweak things a bit further in this area too. It needs to be said that unless you have a solid offensive strategy, or plan to rely on pure luck – you'll want to learn the reversal system or get used to having your ass kicked regularly. This is executed by tapping on the D-pad in succession with the Free button. Once again, Team Ninja has (wisely) decided to alter the system. Mid-kicks and punches now must be countered with a specific command (previously both attacks were reversed by pressing Back+Free simultaneously.) The window of opportunity is a bit smaller than I remember and, being so accustomed to the timing in previous releases, I had to spend some quality time in the training mode.
Of course, not everyone will have the will or desire to be as dedicated, but in the end, you'll find the payoff is great. And to be perfectly honest, many of the moves aren't all that difficult once you get the hang of it. Although there are a few commands that you shouldn't expect to easily execute with the pad. If you're looking to get flawless execution, ditch the 360 pad and get yourself the official DOA4 Arcade Stick. Yes, I picked one up and it's hands down THE ideal way to go if you're looking to improve your overall performance. While it hasn't made me an ultimate badass online, I can revel in the fact any margin of error isn't due to the form and function of my peripheral.