Preview By: Siou Choy
|# Of Players:||1-4 (2-16 online)|
|Accessories:||USB Keyboard (online chat)|
In the short period since the ascendancy of the Sega Dreamcast, Team Ninja has built itself a history of putting together some of the most graphically stunning fighters on the market. With the advent of even more powerful post-Next Gen systems like the Xbox 360 breaking on the horizon, one can expect with a reasonable degree of certainty that their newest release should at the very least maintain, if not exceed expectations and standards set to date.
In the past, the most noticeable aspect of the DOA series has been its trademarkedly stunning graphics. Excessive attention to even the most minute of details is the chief stylistic hallmark that sets these games apart from other fighters, be it the way a character's hair flows in the wind or the falling of snow in the background. In point of fact, DOA's graphical excesses have consistently and indisputably remained the high watermark of the fighting genre (or volleyball subgenre, for that matter) from the 2000 A.D. release of DOA 2 forward (the less said about the PS1 DOA with its shoddy graphics and user-manipulable "bounce factor" the better). With that said, could their upcoming DOA 4 honestly be expected to fall anywhere short of spectacular?
As usual, the weak link in Team Ninja's fighting game juggernaut is the storyline (or lack thereof). This go around, the story is supposed to revolve around Helena the opera singer, if that means anything to you. As always, by playing through the game using each of the various characters, you get to see more "story based" cut-scenes, get new costumes, levels, locations, blah blah blah. Bottom line, it's a fighter. Anybody actually looking for some profound philosophical depth and existential meaning in a damn videogame, much less something as straightforward as a fighting game, should go back to their delusional little hip hop fantasy world where every "thug" is a "stone cold killah" with a "phat pimped out ride" and plenty of "hos and benjamins". Those of us living in the real world just come here for the graphics and the chance to beat the virtual crap out of our friends (or vice versa).
There will be over 20 playable characters available in DOA 4. Among the new additions is a mystery masked wrestler (viva El Santo, Mil Mascaras y Blue Demon!), a blonde fighter named Eliott (Gould? Personally I'd love to see a character whine and complain his opponent into submission, but maybe that's just me."ladies and gentlemen, preeeesenting in the left corner, wearing the fuchsia tights.Richard "the killer" Benjamin!") and Kokoro, a female fighter named after a great Mephisto Waltz song. Also included are some old favorites from previous DOA fighters, some of whom "may not have made an appearance recently". Go figure. Aspiring hairstylists among our audience should be pleased to note that new cuts and 'dos will also be available for the unlocking (ooh, I'd just love to give Zack the "Rachel"!)
As in previous DOA games, fighting environments will be interactive and multi-leveled. In other words, you're still able to knock an opponent off the initial level and end up slugging it out in a completely different environment. That said, this time around characters are more likely to bounce off walls or barriers as opposed to breaking through them, in a misguided attempt to add more "realism" to the experience. When I start waking up with bruises, a bloody nose and loose or missing teeth, then I'll call it realistic. Till then, it's a videogame, people. Like the movies, tv or hip hop, (repeat after me) it's not real. Also being added to the game is a "new complex countering system" emphasizing defensive maneuvers (read as: this one will be annoying) "so that players can win based on skill as opposed to button mashing". Whatever. Stick to the gorgeous graphics and leave the "innovations in gameplay" to more appropriate genres (like survival horror or action adventure), OK?
Online fans will be able to take advantage of DOA 4's online capabilities via Xbox Live. Team Ninja hopes to provide large scale global online tournaments, increased worldwide simultaneous online play, players can form clans (ooh, just like in prison!), there will be detailed scoreboards, and a "new and interactive lobby area" featuring voice and text chat so you can pretend you actually have friends and a life instead of admitting to yourself that you're sitting home alone screwing around online. Hell, even instant messaging offers the opportunity, if not the likelihood, of having an actual meaningful and intelligent conversation with someone out there. Somehow I don't see fighting game chat as rising to any profound metaphysical level: "you know, watching Kasumi shake her groove thang reminds me of the subtle variations in theme between Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus and Sartre's No Exit. Personally, I find that Heidegger comes to mind, when he said.damn! Next time, Helena's kickin' your ass clear across Milwaukee!"
Fighting fans can expect the release of Dead or Alive 4 to coincide with the Xbox 360 launch this fall.
Posted: 2005-10-03 12:01:55PST