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Saturday, April 15, 2006 

Alive and Well

When I bought my XBox 360, I had to make a choice between either buying Tecmo's "Dead or Alive 4" or the critically acclaimed "Call of Duty 2." Basically, it came down to this decision; what makes for a better two-player game? (I couldn't afford more than two controllers) Within moments, I was driving home with my brand-new 360 and DoA 4.

(I subscribe to the theory that first-person shooters (FPS's) are incredibly wack when played with just one another person in versus mode. You definitely need at least 3 people to make things somewhat interesting. Hence, I didn't buy Call of Duty 2... at least, on THAT day...)

Now, 15 gaming hours later, and well, it's been a decent experience. Basically, if you've already played Dead or Alive 3 (or the superior "Ultimate"), you've played DoA 4. Nothing's changed, save for some new characters, improved graphics and backgrounds, and even more bouncing boobies. DoA vets will definitely be annoyed at first with the new countering system present in the game, which makes it harder to counter and avoid your opponent's attacks, but hardcore players will appreciate the learning curve associated with learning the new system.

For newbies, the game is incredibly easy to get into. First-timers will start chaining combos together in no time, but at the same time, simple button-mashing isn't going to cut it, either. The interactive levels will always elicit "oohs and aahs" from beginners, and overall, the game will hold your attention for a decent amount of time. In case you want to get better at beating the shit out of your opponents, DoA 4 features an excellent training mode, which makes it easy to hone your skills in practically every scenario imaginable.

The DoA series has always featured a decent fighting engine, but what separates DoA from the other 3-D fighting games out there is the incredible attention paid to the female fighters' extremely oversized boobs, and DoA 4 is no different. This game definitely ain't gonna win any kudos from women's rights groups, that's for sure, but at the same time, the boobie exploitation doesn't get worse than what anyone can see at their local "Hooters." It's obvious that the bulk of Tecmo's 360-specific programming was spent on breasts rather than everything else, especially when comparing this edition to previous installments; I actually think more time was spent on making boobs bounce rather than revolutionizing the fighting engine. Still, while this game is all about the T & A, it's still much more fun to play than say, "Rumble Roses XX." (Another T & A fighting game for the 360) Inevitably, as in all these games, the novelty of the T & A wears off after an hour or so, but unlike other games, DoA 4 retains your attention thanks to the tried-and-true fighting engine.

Good Lord. The 360 can pack some cleavage...

Playing the story-mode eventually gets boring rather quickly; the only thing that keeps you playing on single-player over and over again are the unlockables that fill this game. There are 6 hidden characters to unlock, and tons of character costumes to obtain. I only found myself playing over and over again just to unlock everything I possibly could and to rack up Achievement points. The saving grace? The difficulty in this game was ramped up. As a matter of fact, if you're not careful, you can find yourself losing a lot of bouts at first, especially in the later stages of the Story Mode. And that final boss... wow... she has to be one of the cheesiest final bosses in all of fighting game history. I had flashbacks of that dude from Street Fighter 3. (Shudder)

I played the game on XBox Live a few times. I found the lobby system somewhat interesting, because you get to watch other matches as you wait your turn in line, reminiscent of playing fighting games in arcades. However, if you're the kind of person that just wants to get in, have a few bouts, and then be off, you'll find yourself frustrated over the wait times. You might not even get on Live if you find yourself running in and out the house constantly. (Like me)

Overall, it's a cool game. It's not going to completely dazzle you, graphically, or in terms of gameplay. It's definitely worth a rental. I imagine, however, that once you play through the story line and unlock all the extras, this game might start collecting dust, especially when there are better multiplayer games to be had on the 360. (Like Fight Night, or Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter)

1) Really easy to learn, hard to master. Especially the counter system.

2) The game's "picture mode" is kinda cool. For a hot second. You might find yourself having contests on "Who can take the most perverted picture."

3) Sexy, sexy costumes. Some of the costumes are SOOOOO worth fighting that final boss 40 times.


1) The counter system. It's annoying as shit for DoA vets. You might want to put in DoA Ultimate in frustration.

2) XBox Achievement Points. What the fuck is Tecmo smoking? They're freaking stingy with them shits!

3) Spartan-458. You're wack. I don't care if people will think of you as "Master Chief" from the "Halo" series. You're a wack-ass fighter.

Yo. You suck.

Wish List:

1) More interactive stages. We can't get enough of those.

We need more levels to knock people down 30 stories!

2) The ability to switch from the old countering system to the new one (you can tell I feel strongly about the change)

3) Tag-team CO-OP mode. As in, me and someone else grab two controllers, go on Live, and face two other opponents for some fighting goodness. Not too major of a mode, but it would make things more interesting, though. :-)