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Dead or Alive Ultimate

Developer: Team Ninja | Publisher: Tecmo
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 10/26/04 | Genre: Fighting

Tecmo's Dead or Alive franchise has been around for years now and has gained a loyal fanbase. After three successful entries in the franchise, Tecmo decided it was time to go back and revisit the first two games in the series and put them in a collection package for Xbox owners around the globe.

Enter the new, yet old Dead or Alive Ultimate. DOAU combines a perfect recreation of the Sega Saturn version of Dead or Alive with a beefed up version of DOA 2 and in effect, puts the whole series on the Xbox console. DOAU comes with two discs, one containing the Saturn remake of the original game and the other holding the new and improved version of DOA 2. Seeing as this is a remake of two older games, players should not be expecting to see a whole lot of new elements on the gameplay side of things.

The DOA 1 game is virtually unchanged from years ago. The game should feel familiar to those who played it and offer a nice bit of nostalgia. The game can be played online now, and that is really what Tecmo was touting for the game. Switching focus to the meatier side of the package, the new DOA 2 has quite a bit going for it. The characters' attack combinations haven't been altered from the original version, and the countering system is a little more strict than it was in DOA 3 making pulling off the devastating moves a little trickier. Again, the big addition here is the ability to fight online against other human opponents.

The online aspect of the game starts you out at a general rank C. As you fight, and presumably win, your letter grade ranking will go up. If you lose battle after battle you'll find yourself stuck with an F just like in your English Lit class in high school. There are various game modes you can participate in online. There is the arcade classic style of 엩nner Staysn which, as you might have guessed, whoever wins the fight takes on the next challenger in line. The opposite 쌯ser Staysode means that you'll keep fighting if you keep losing your matches. You can also participate in online tournaments, team battle games, tag battle matches, and a kumite mode. At any time you can check your world ranking against the rest of the DOAU playing public.

The game also features other classic modes of play such as story mode, time attack, and survival. The time attack and survival modes allow you to upload your best scores to an online leader board and compare your best with the scores of others.

So what exactly is new in the game? Well, aside from the online play, there are new stages and new knock off areas where you can send opponents flailing to an untimely, yet thoroughly entertaining demise. These stage knock off maneuvers have always been a staple in the series, and they are only getting better. Also, there are more breakable objects in the stages; if you pin an opponent against a statue and land a powerful blow, the statue will crumble to pieces upon impact. Also, characters can now flip over objects that they are knocked into such as the base of the aforementioned broken statues or your friendly neighborhood hippo.

In terms of graphics, DOAU looks fantastic. Character models are great and animation is superb. The textures are amazing as well, but overall you won't notice a huge leap over the visuals in DOA 3 as those were already at the top of the heap; Tecmo's artists are among the best in the business. The sound in the game is good, but not quite up to par with the rest of the package. The character voices are nice as are the sound effects, but the music in the game is fairly bland and while it may have been fine when the original game released, game audio has come a long way since then.

With a game like DOAU it's hard to point out flaws as the game is simply a remake of the games from yesteryear. The sound has already been mentioned, but gameplay-wise it is identical to the past games that it is based on. Those who have grown accustomed to the DOA 3 controls may find it hard to go back to the old style of DOA 2. The control simply isn't as smooth or responsive as it was in DOA 3. Also, the moves from the third game have been scraped, so many of your favorite attacks may not be found in the game. Another addition to 3 that is missing here is the ability to double-hit against walls. These problems will not be apparent to those that are new to the series, but for fans, they will be noticed.

Tecmo has crammed a lot of extras into this game ensuring a long life span. With literally hundreds of costumes to unlock, hidden characters, and new system voices, you could be playing this game for quite some time, not to mention the online option which offers limitless challenges. One of the extras I'd like to touch on is the new system voice feature which allows you to change the 졮nouncerf the matches. This feature may seem small, and it is a novelty to be sure; however, it is a great bonus for fans of the series and shows some creative thinking on the developer's part.

In the end Dead or Alive Ultimate is a great package for long time fans of the series and for new comers who want to test themselves against opponents online. Is there room for improvement? Sure, but what's here is good and is the best online, 3d fighting the industry has seen and will likely remain so for the duration of the current-generation console life span.

By Ryan Schaefer - 11/16/04
ESRB Details: Sexual Themes, Violence
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Screenshots for Dead or Alive Ultimate

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