When I stop to consider all the adaptions of Dead or Alive 2, the PS2 version truly comes away as being an uncanny and robust versionast, if only because of Tecmo's odd handling of the franchise itself. For those not in the know, there are four versions of DOA2 currently available on the market. Two were released in Japan (DOA2 and DOA2:Hardcore respectively for PS2 and Dreamcast), and two domestic versions (DOA2 for DC, and DOA2 Hardcore for PS2). Now the most evolved state of each game is the Hardcore versions--these include extra costumes and hidden options not available in the original. However due to the bizarre approach of Tecmo in releasing several "time exclusivity" deals, we ended up with what many would call the "inferior" Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore (due to the DC version allegedly having the benefit of better anti-aliasing). What does this mean?
It means nothing. What I'm trying to say is if you have DOA2 for Dreamcast, stop reading this review right now, as I will refuse to make comparisons between the two for the rest of this review. It's just too damned confusing with all these alternate versions floating around the world. For those of you who want to know what this version is about, by all means, continue.
Graphically, the game is exquisite, and easily tops Tekken Tag Tournament a bazillion times over. Not necessarily because of quality, but because of application. While TTT has excellent character models and cool backgrounds, Namco was obviously lacking a significant degree of ambitiousness in its construction, whereas DOA2: Hardcore takes the PS2 to the mat, wrestling out a ton of gorgeous backgrounds. The new stages are gorgeous, and the lighting affects dynamite. In essence, Hardcore doesn't fail to please in the graphics department.
Team Ninja has went the extra mile in the sound department as Hardcore "benefits" from having a cool English language option! It's SOOO cool! Like, the characters talk in English which is so better than Japanese because I don't understand Japanese because it's HARD! *Snickers* Ah, the things I do to amuse myself. Anyway, the English language version is suffice it to say - rubbish; anyone who listens to it for any
other reason other than curiosity should be hung. I'm
serious! Look here if
you don't believe me!
That being said, DOA2 has always had curiously amusing
music. Not exactly enthralling, but I'd say it ranks up there with the Virtua Fighter series for it's listenablity (in short, it won't make you want to mute the television). The Japanese voices are included as well (thank godness), and demolish their shody English counterparts.
But what does it all come down to, kids? The GAMEPLAY; and DOA2 contains this in abundance (thank goodness.) The side-step/pseudo-eight-way-walk is fairly functional, although not quite on the level of Soul Calibur. The counter system is excellent and easy to get ahold of, and interacts well with grappling system, which is probably the best out of the current batch of 3D fighters. I have to confess though, that I'm not exactly in love with it...techniques in Dead or Alive 2 seem airy, and have less of the "impact" that moves in Tekken Tag Tournament or Soul Calibur possess. In addition, the characters also seem to have fairly limited arsenals of moves compared to Namco's titles. DOA2 is not without a few tricks of it's own, however, as it sports a Tag-Team mode that complete obliterates Tekken Tag's.
Without a doubt, Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore is an solid, highly entertaining fighter that no one should miss. I won't call it a classic, but you're doing yourself a grave injustice if you don't at least rent this title on ANY system. It's got tons of style, beautiful (albeit a bit fuzzy) graphics, and satisfying gameplay. A worthwhile purchase to all PS2 owners.
Graphics: 9 gameplay: 8 Sound: 7 Replay: 8 Overall: A-
· · · Riisuke