The unique meld of lush graphics, solid fighting gameplay and sexed-up vixens makes Tecmo’s “Dead or Alive Ultimate” a fighting fan’s dream — at least the more perverted ones.

TV/New Media Reviews
Wait! TIme out. I broke a nail. (Courtesy of Tecmo)

The “Dead or Alive” series has always been about the jiggle factor, forgoing gameplay in favor of bouncing breasts, exemplified best by the smut-peddling “Dead or Alive Beach Volley Ball,” which was little more than an excuse to put the female fighters into bikinis. “Ultimate” resurrects the first two “DOA” games on a two-disc set: one disc with the first “Dead or Alive” and one disc with a suped-up version of “DOA 2.”

Critics often derided the original “Dead or Alive” for its rudimentary three-button control scheme, but it still provided some solid fighting action. The version of “Dead or Alive” included on disc one is a pixel-perfect, albeit unchanged, port. The one addition the developers included is Xbox Live playability for the fighter, but it’s unneccessary for gamers who will likely spend the bulk of their time with the vastly superior sequel included in this package. “DOA” has not been updated significantly, and its age shows through. After a couple of nostalgic bouts — and ludicrously well-endowed female bouncing — players will grow weary of “DOA.”

Though the first “Dead or Alive” fails to excite a second time around, developer Team Ninja has enhanced an already excellent version of “Dead or Alive” on disc two. Gamers familiar with the additions to the PS2 “Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore” will find all of the same features perfectly intact. Further improving an already solid game is the inclusion of unlockable costumes and characters — making this edition of “DOA” even better than its sequel “Dead or Alive 3.”

The “Ultimate” version of “DOA 2” still features the limited fighting scheme, but it is improved upon from the original “DOA.” The number of combinations pales in comparison to the deep and nuanced gameplay of “Virtua Fighter 4” or “Soul Calibur 2,” but “DOA 2” beats its competition with its graphics. The new version of “DOA 2” has newly polished visuals that take full advantage of the Xbox’s power. The graphics of both the character models and the vast, multi-tiered fighting stages rival the best available on Microsoft’s console.

The biggest addition and selling point of the set, beyond its buxom characters, is Xbox Live fighting. Players can duke it out online, recreating the bygone days of the arcade era. Why Tecmo decided to improve upon “Dead or Alive 2” for its foray online instead of “Dead or Alive 3” makes little sense, but with all of the improvements, “DOA” runs smoothly on Live.

Fans often overrate “DOA” because of its representation of female fighters, which explains the mature rating, but at the same time it shouldn’t be completely disregarded because of it. “Ultimate” is a surprisingly enjoyable fighting experience, although not the deepest, and is the best fighter available for Xbox Live.


Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

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