Reviewed by Cameron Bourne
Dec 17th 2004

Introduction:The Dead or Alive series has always been a favorite among fans of the fighting genre. From the creators of Ninja Gaiden comes the newest game in the series, Dead or Alive: Ultimate. It's basically Dead or Alive 2 redone in much better graphics and put on Xbox Live as well as adding a lot to the gameplay. For a nice little bonus you will also receive Dead or Alive 1 online, but with no changes.

The Game:The Dead or Alive series has always been one of the Xbox's best fighting games, although Soul Calibur 2 was better, for Xbox exclusive fighting games nothing beats DoA. Ever since DoA 3 premiered on the Xbox fans haven't been able to get enough of the series, and now they can experience the previous 2 games on Live. The game is mostly about DoA 2 Ultimate, because it's the game that has had the most attention put into it. Although DoA 1: Ultimate is a nice bonus, it just won't get the same play time as DoA 2.

The gameplay of the DoA series has always been great; although fairly basic it always managed to be fun and challenging. Nothing has changed here. The gameplay will be very familiar to anyone who has ever played a DoA game before. The best part about the DoA series is the ability to block attacks, high, mid, low range attacks can all be blocked or reversed, if you're good enough to pull it off. It's a lot of fun when both fighters are going back and forth blocking attacks, in a very stylish way. Another big thing about the DoA games is the vast variety of moves, throws, and blocks that can be performed. Kicks, punches, throws, blocks, and special moves can all be strung together by combos that deal a big amount of damage. The other big staple in DoA: Ultimate is the extremely fast gameplay. Unlike most fighters where matches can take a good amount of time to complete, DoA is just fast and furious. Sometimes it all has to be done by knowing where the right buttons are on your controller and memorizing combos so you can pull them off really quickly. Or you may even just button mash like most new players and still stand a chance because nobody else will be used to the, let's just say, different type of tactics. Environments play a big part in the game as you can throw enemies off ledges and into walls or animals causing extra damage. The gameplay is still fairly basic compared to a game like Soul Calibur but it adds enough to make it a fun and at times refreshing experience.

There are still a good amount of game modes in DoA: Ultimate, tag team battles, time matches, versus matches, regular team battles, and story are all in there. Unfortunately you won't find too much there in the story mode as it is way too short, and the AI can be pretty easy to defeat. Thankfully DoA: Ultimate makes up for this in a big way; Xbox Live. You can play the different game modes online in 1v1 matches. While 2 players fight the others watch the winner then fights the next player and so on. You'd think there would be some major problems with some of the experts kicking the crap out of noobies, but this doesn't happen. Why? Because you can set the skill level you want to compete against, so instead of fighting a level A when you a level C you can set it so the highest level of players is a C. This makes it a lot easier to play against people of your own skill, so you can have a lot more fun. There is a lot of other stuff that can help prolong the experience, from collecting the many various costumes for each player or the couple of extra bonus characters, it gives you something to do after you beat it.

Graphics & Sound: Team Ninja (creators of Dead or Alive) have always been the masters of graphics. Nothing has changed here. The graphics in DoA: Ultimate look awesome, from the beautiful graphics to the awesome character models the game is defiantly pushing the Xbox to all its graphical capabilities. It's amazing they can still pull this off on the Xbox, because it just looks that good. If you have played DoA 3, DoA: Ultimate follows the same style of graphics, only a little bit better. Dead or Alive still has the best graphics on the Xbox even with games like Splinter Cell, Halo 2, and Riddick.

The sound is done pretty well too, but not up to the same quality as the graphics. The opening song is defiantly the best part, "Dream on" by Aerosmith; everything else is pretty much what you would expect to hear in a fighting game. It's no Halo 2, but it isn't bad either. The voice-overs are all done in Japanese which isn't bad because it adds a touch of authenticity into the game, well unless you're playing as one of the American or Russian fighters, because then it just sounds weird.

Innovation:Dead or Alive: Ultimate doesn't add all too much to innovating the genre from a single player gameplay point of view. It's still the same old fighting style as the other games and well it is just a remake of Dead or Alive 2. But where DoA: Ultimate does succeed in innovating is with the online play, it's fun fast and furious and it's coming from a fighting game. It's not a normal thing to see fighting games being played online, but DoA: Ultimate could very well make it a big thing. It's done with an easy and user friendly interface so it won't discourage the average person. Dead or Alive may help with a revolution, not in gameplay but in the online component.

Mojo: This is pretty easy. Dead or Alive is full of mojo, from the scantily clad, and beautiful ladies to the awesome and cool moves this game is just crying out Mojo. The fact that you can now fight online against other beautiful scantily clad ladies, well that just adds even more, and to top it all off you can fight with Ryu from Ninja Gaiden and that's just cool.

Lowdown: Although Dead or Alive: Ultimate isn't a breakthrough from a gameplay point of view it is still a fun, beautiful and exciting game to play. However where it really succeeds is with the online portion of the game, it has the same fun gameplay as the rest of the game except you can now face more challenging opponents as opposed to predictable AI. If you like fighting games and you have an Xbox, Dead or Alive: Ultimate is the place to be.

Gameplay: 8, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation:8, Mojo: 10. Final: 8.5

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Dead or Alive

Team Ninja
Oct. 2004