Dead or Alive Ultimate Xbox Review

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Retro Content, Retro Reviews, Xbox

This superb 2-disc collection is composed of the original and aged Dead or Alive (the Saturn version rather then the spruced up PlayStation version) alongside the superior sequel. Whilst the former has remained trapped in a 1997 time warp, Dead or Alive 2 is a re-imagining of its previous self, which has resulted in a game that happens to be much closer to the third title in nature.

The original game still plays pretty well, but we often found ourselves relying too much on the counter system, which requires little timing and skill, resulting in matches that are dominated by reversals and little else. The game does go deeper than that but still lacks the sublime refinement of later titles in the classic series.

Comparing the sequel to the original does reveal a vast improvement in the combat engine, furthermore the refinements in this remake are also all there to see. The fantastic modifications to the reversal system makes precise timing all the more crucial and this further takes merit away from the original title. The remake obviously includes all of the characters that appeared in the original DOA2, bar Hitomi who actually appeared later in DOA3, but now is also present here.

The original DOA2 was the pioneer of stunning environmental interaction and we continue to be dazzled by the stages on offer here and this tremendous fight dynamic. Knocking an opponent crashing through a window and then continuing the match below still effectively hits the spot and it’s something that just could never become dull. Every time is like the first time. On the subject of stages, you are also able to pull off fancy moves down slopes and literally hit the ceiling on some stages. It arguably offers more then the third game did as a sequel.

Also thrown into the package is online play and Dead or Alive Ultimate offers much more options than the usual venture online with the genre. The fighting blueprint itself remains untouched, it’s the staggering amount of surrounding options that really impressed us. If you fancy a tournament with up to eight players then Ultimate grants your wish as it does with survival and team battle modes. We found that waiting around for our turn wasn’t even too much of a problem as viewing other fights is ideal filler for what could have been a horribly dull period. The cherry on top is the ranking system, which works in an extremely satisfying grade manner, earning or losing various points based on your opponents class and the outcome of the fight. It’s a crying shame that no bright spark could have brainstormed a similar system for offline gaming eons ago.

Associating a wardrobe with a fighting title may ordinarily seem a little strange, but DOA Ultimate assures that each of the characters wardrobes are bursting with freshly pressed outfits. The ladies average around 20 outfits each, which include everything from skimpy bikinis to short skirts amongst other showy and revealing outfits. The hormone-charged and sexually frustrated player will no doubt be satisfied. Whilst the male fighters may have a little less choice, they still have plenty to unlock. As always it’s a worthwhile addition to the series.

The original game looks primitive by today’s graphical standards so it’s rather ironic that DOA2 is the title that has received a gorgeous new paint job out of the two. Whatever the case, DOA2 is once again looking superb. Witnessing everything from rain streaming down a roof to a smoothly animated and well-lit character made us wonder why the Xbox’s successor could just be around the corner.

Dead or Alive Ultimate is a great collection and the reworked sequel is one of the finest fighting games available on the Xbox format. Those who claim the series is nothing but a button masher should see some of the players in action on the brilliant online mode. The difficulty curve of both games is perfectly poised, boasting an easy set-up that is far from complex alongside a rewarding level of depth for the slightly more experienced player. To sum it all up then, it’s a decent brawler alongside a bona fide fighting classic.

9/10

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