You crushed Genra in Dead or Alive 3. You admired the volleyball action *ahem* of DOA Beach Volleyball. You nearly punched your TV in after clashing with Alma the first time in Ninja Gaiden. Team Ninjas newest offering Dead or Alive 4 has the Mugen Tenshin ninja clan going to destroy DOATEC in the midst of the next Dead or Alive tournament. All your favorite characters return as well as two new additions- Eliot, the only apprentice of Gen Fu. And a Japanese Geisha by the name of Kokoro who knows the more esoteric fighting style of Ba Ji. There are also a few unlockable characters, though the one of note is Nicole (or better known as the female Spartan).
Lets get two things out of the way before we begin- yes, there is jiggling and yes there are a lot of high kicks. Once you get past all that however, youll realize that Dead or Alive 4 is a really good fighting game. Though you really shouldnt try to convince your girlfriend/wife/mom of this fact without expecting serious repercussions (living room futon, here we come). This is especially true for those of you who like playing Christie. The fighting system has been changed: counters are more difficult to perform and they dont deal as much damage, instead relying on punching, kicking, and throwing a bit more. The new fighting system defiantly favors the aggressor this time around, though a well time counter will change the flow of battle and allow the other player to launch his/her own volley of attack. Dead or Alive 4 becomes a much deeper fighter because of this. Besides of just getting really good at countering, you begin learning different nuances and animations of the characters so you can keep your attacks varied so that your opponent doesnt constantly counter because youre attacking the same direction over and over. Besides the story mode to unlock endings and extra costumes, there are a quite a few modes to keep players interested. The most notable ones are DOA Online and Watch Mode. DOA Online allows you to purchase an avatar, clothing for the avatar, and lobbies, to personalize your online experience. You can also earn points to purchase additional costumes if you dont feel like repeating the single player game with the various characters. Watch Mode allows it so you can see two CPU characters fight and you can take pictures (to show your friends how much you are a deviant).
Dead or Alive 4 looks great. The backgrounds look fantastic and the multiple tier levels look good no matter what level youre on. The levels are full are vibrant and full of life. While the water doesnt really ripple all that realistically, the reflections will catch your eye. The characters look great, though no where nearly as good as the backgrounds. The characters have somewhat unrealistic proportions (I mean besides there!) and they ALL have perfect skin. Making it feel like youre looking at a doll rather then a person. Its not that Team Ninja is incapable of rendering realistic features: Jann Lees arms, Brad Wongs stubble, Christies leather jacket, and Kokoros silk costumes look fantastic and these touches add realism to other somewhat unrealistic features. Simply put, screenshots dont do this game justice. Make sure you try it out on a HD television, because the game and a good deal of its characters are very easy on the eye.
I cant say the game takes full advantage of Dolby Digital mostly because the camera does what its suppose to and it keeps the fighters on screen. So while certain levels like the D.W.A Coliseum and the Savannah Safari sound great and provide ambience, other levels like the Ninja Hideout have almost everything coming from the center and subwoofer. The sound effects, voices, and music are clear and crisp. And yes, for those who played earlier entries of the series, there is Aerosmith. The characters speak to each other (before and after matches) in Japanese except the Spartan who does speak in American English. Music selection really helps sell or cheese up the character endings. Though Lei Fangs ending music will make you initially think they pulled a song from Six Pence None The Richer.
Suggestions: I only one major complaint and thats the last boss Alpha-152. While not the cheapest boss in a fighter Ive ever nearly broken my controller over, she does have some angering abilities. Having a fight end in three moves (head blast, spinning kicks, locks your head and shoulder and pounds your head in) is more annoying then challenging.