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Dead or Alive
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Dead or Alive 2
Dead or Alive Ultimate

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Dead or Alive 3
Dead or Alive 4

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Dead or Alive Dimensions
Dead or Alive 5

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Dead or Alive Xtreme

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Dead or Alive 3 - Xbox (2001)

American Cover

Japanese Cover

As a launch title for the Xbox, Dead or Alive 3 isn't nearly as gigantic of a step as DOA2 was. But for everything DOA2 did, DOA3 does it better. While at first glance it may not seem like the visuals have improved that much, there are lots of little details that add to the overall look and feel. And it's a testament to Team Ninja's prowess that this, one of the first games released for the Xbox, is still among the best looking. The arenas are even more pompous - a gigantic waterfall that reaches miles into the sky, an aquarium full of indivially modeled fish or a forest in fall, with flying leaves all over the ground. In one arena, knock your opponent out of a window and they'll shock themselves on the neon lights before hitting the ground. Some of the more open areas like the beach bring about some immersion-breaking invisible walls or obstacles that don't make any sense, but of course that's hard to avoid without ringout rules.

The controls have been streamlined so you don't need to use both the digital pad and analog sticks, but otherwise the gameplay system is mostly the same, save for the obligatory moveset updates and countless tweaks. Dead or Alive 3 brings one terrible innovation that plagued every episode since then, though: Opponents can now bounce each other against walls in addition to all the standard juggling, nearly doubling the possible length of a combo. Needless to say, this is really frustrating when you end up on the receiving end.

The new characters include Christie, an icy haired assassin with a snake-like fighting style; Hitomi, the Japanese-German karate master, and Brad Wong, a drunken boxing style fighter. Hitomi basically replaces Ein, who has turned (back) into Hayate, introducing the fourth Ninja to the series. Brad Wong and Christie, on the other hand, both bring with them unique and interesting fighting styles.

Team Ninja finally gave the characters individual endings, all CGI rendered, and most of them are actually pretty cool. The music isn't quite as good as previous titles, and for some reason, various licensed songs from Aerosmith appear in the game. Otherwise, the only major problem is the final battle - where the perspective switches to behind the player and you attempt to attack the main bad guy, who blasts you away with ease. It's really confusing and even cheaper than any usual final boss. Since throws and counters are useless, you're limited to ordinary punch and kick moves. Once you get the tactics down, it's pretty painless, but still annoying. That makes probably the worst boss in the whole series.

Unfortunately, there are not many costumes to unlock. The European and Japanese versions (which both came out after the American release) have extra costumes, but you can only obtain these otherwise by getting the Xbox Exhibition Vol 1 disc or old issues of the Official Xbox Magazine, which add them to the game. Most of them aren't too impressive, although Lei Fang gets an assortment of cool ones, Ayane's ninja outfit rocks (apparently enough to feature it on the Japanese cover) and Helena's Arabian Nights digs are quite interesting, too.

Dead or Alive 3 (Xbox)

Dead or Alive 3 (Xbox)

Dead or Alive 3 (Xbox)

Dead or Alive 3 (Xbox)



Dead or Alive 4 - Xbox 360 (2005)

American Cover

One of the first titles for the Xbox 360, Dead or Alive 4 is an odd choice to show off the power of the new system. Sure, it looks great, especially in high-def, but the improvements over Dead or Alive Ultimate for the original Xbox are fairly minor. Some of the new environments are pretty cool, especially the Vegas stage (where characters can get hit by cars if they dawdle in the middle of the street) or the dinosaur (!!) level, which features huge, animated raptors, pterodactyls and a tyranosaur.

As usual, there are a few new characters - young pretty boy Eliot, who seems to be taking over for Gen Fu; Kokoro, whose enormous hair and flowing kimonos show off the new cloth physics; and La Mariposa, a masked wrestler who is not identified in the game, but obviously Lisa from Dead or Alive Xtreme. Most interesting is Nicole, a female version of the Spartan from Halo in full armor. Fans of that series will welcome her, while others may find her slightly misplaced. Sadly, none of these characters are as refreshing as Dead or Alive 3's newcomers in how they are played. Some of the veteran characters first appear to be missing from the roster, but they can all be unlocked.

The fighting engine is pretty much the same, but controls are a bit more rigid, for better or worse. While the game runs faster than previous titles, the physics feel a tiny bit more sluggish at the same time. Team Ninja has also mucked with the counter system a bit to make them harder to pull off - to counter mid-height kicks, you need to press forward together with the hold button instead of back. It's a completely arbitrary separation that never quite feels right, and the system still feels pretty cheap. The uber-powerful final boss this time is Alpha-152, a translucent, flying, naked clone of Kasumi who can wreck you something fierce. Overall Dead or Alive 4 drastically cranks up the difficulty for the single player modes. While none of the former games was particularly hard even at the highest settings, Team Ninja obviously wanted to cater to their new reputation as hardcore game developers they've earned from Ninja Gaiden. The normal setting is at about the same level as "very hard" was before - and you won't even find an "easy" option.

While there's a noticeable lack of cool costumes - a few more than Dead or Alive 3 but still far less than Dead or Alive Ultimate - each character has a unique full motion video ending. They range from boring to absolutely hilarious - Zack and his girlfriend face off against an army of skeletons, Lei Fang kicks some random guy off a train for accidentally groping her chest, Tina puts on a rock concert and uses an entire city block as her own personal amp, and Kasumi has a goofy (naked!) mermaid dream. Once again, the opening song is the not-so-brilliant Aerosmith song "Eat the Rich", and the rest of the soundtrack is fairly forgettable.

The Xbox Live features are mostly the same as for Dead or Alive Ultimate, although there's now a "lobby" where you can purchase cute little avatars. Character customization a la Xtreme Beach Volleyball would've been nice though - if Soul Calibur 3 has it, why not here, in a series that always put a lot of emphasis on the character's outfits? Overall, Dead or Alive 4 is a decent installment, even if it refuses to fix the balance flaws that the series continues to be maligned for.

Dead or Alive 4 (Xbox 360)

Dead or Alive 4 (Xbox 360)

Dead or Alive 4 (Xbox 360)

Dead or Alive 4 (Xbox 360)

Dead or Alive 4 (Xbox 360)

Dead or Alive 4 (Xbox 360)



Ending Screenshots

Kasumi


Brad Wong


Christie


Jann Lee


Leifang


Hitomi


Bass


Tina


La Mariposa


Zack


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Intro

Page 2:
Dead or Alive
Dead or Alive++

Page 3:
Dead or Alive 2
Dead or Alive Ultimate

Page 4:
Dead or Alive 3
Dead or Alive 4

Page 5:
Dead or Alive Dimensions
Dead or Alive 5

Page 6:
Dead or Alive Xtreme

Page 7:
Movie
Other

Discuss on the Forums!

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