Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Dead Or Alive 2 Ultimate

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Dead Or Alive is a franchise that, these days, needs little explanation. With the first title being released with little effort to dissuade the public from calling it “the bouncy-boob game”, Tecmo seem more than happy that teenage boys and single men are finding the Team Ninja girls as a hook. However, Dead Or Alive is not a franchise that has built its reputation on strong sales of poor quality titles, with both the DreamCast version of Dead Or Alive 2 and the Xbox launch title Dead Or Alive 3 raising the bar considerably at their time of release. Some time ago it was mentioned that Team Ninja felt that they wanted to bring the complete Dead Or Alive collection to a single console and, now it seems that console has been set upon, and Team Ninja once again are bringing the buxom and beautiful Kasumi into your home, onto your screen and, for the first time, onto the internet.

Now there may be some degree of confusion caused by this review. Let me explain – in the package you get two discs; one is the main part of the release – the reworked version of Dead Or Alivedoa2u1.jpg (6750 bytes)2 – the other appears little more than an attempt at satisfying the ever-hungry Beat-‘Em-Up fanatics’ appetites. As Dead Or Alive 2 Ultimate is obviously the main part of the release, this review will be featuring that title only, while the review of the first disc – featuring an Arcade Perfect conversion of the first title – can be viewed here. Although it appears that the first Dead Or Alive was only included to please the fans, it’s still a complete enough package to offer a critical view, however not being the main part of the release I believe that most of the fans will view it as this less important and so should be treated as a separate entity.

In Dead Or Alive 2 Ultimate a lot of Dead Or Alive 3 familiarities can be found. While retaining the usual grab, reversal, counter structure the intricacy of the moves each character has at their disposal is enhanced when compared with both the original releases of the first rendition of Dead Or Alive 2. The combat is as fluid as could be wished for as your character seems to have the uncanny ability to flip, dodge, spring and somersault around the arena, moving indoa2u2.jpg (6378 bytes) and out for attacks with ease. Basic attacks are controlled using Y and B, whilst Black and White provide you with jabs, R is a powerful combo finisher or flooring attack, A is use for grabs and X acts as both block and reversals. The basic Xbox controller is reliable enough to translate the controls in the usual way most Beat-‘Em-Ups feel comfortable, however the “S”-Pad is rather difficult to navigate with its levelled-off Black and White buttons and PlayStation2-esque grips.

The character roster may seem limited when compared to more recent fighting game releases, consisting of only twelve selectable from the start and an additional three unlockable – and the non-appearance of Christie from Dead Or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball will certainly disappoint some of the Dead Or Alive hardcore, however the depth now granted upon each of the characters eclipses many competitors’ efforts and this is for all intents and purposes a remake, and so the selection is limited to those originally available in Dead Or Alive 2. Each of the characters is rendered to shocking detail, and the animation is beyond comparison. Team Ninja have stated their preference to program for the Xbox many times, due to the more powerful nature of the system, and now they’ve clearly demonstrated why. The title features some of the most amazing special effects seen on the Xbox, and the cut-scenes are competing with Baten Kaitos for “best story-telling on a console, ever…”

The arenas are, as would be expected, expansive. The chance to break balconies, torches and walls as well as send your opponent tumbling down a waterfall, hillside or snowy peak is not uncommon. The reappearance of Deaddoa2u10.JPG (8282 bytes) Or Alive 2’s Danger Zone will please many fans of the original, and the new additions to other levels – such as the interactive Hippos, Elephants and Lions – is very welcome.

While the XboxLIVE! additions have been promised to provide the most expansive online fighting experience yet, the connection is not entirely sound. Disgraceful lag times and totally mis-matched fights are not uncommon, nor is a twenty minute wait for connection to the server… each fight… However, if you’ve got the patience and manage to drink enough cups of tea to sit trough the extended connection time the result is a very pleasing, complete online fighter.

Dragging one of the DreamCast and PlayStation2’s best beat-‘em-ups into 2005 was a stroke of genius, and while it may not revolutionise fighting games, it certainly has rejuvenated faith in the Dead Or Alive series. Those that missed the third instalment can’t make the same mistake again and those loving the franchise no doubt have already purchased the “Collector’s” piece. The pace seems to close to Dead Or Alive 3 for comfort at times, but then; if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it! The minor refinements, the often overwhelming online features, the ridiculously impressive environments and the depth of the gameplay still place Dead Or Alive 2: Ultimate as a firm contender for best-best-‘em-up ever, and yet, it’s only half the package!doa2uscore.JPG






















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