I must admit that I didn’t get as much playtime with Dead or Alive 4 as I had hoped, mainly because I don’t own an Xbox 360. With Dead or Alive heading to both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, you’d better believe that I’m ready to get my counter and jiggle on once again. Tecmo’s newest entry into the series aims to take the fighting game genre in another direction, calling it Fighting Entertainment. It’s the same DoA we all love and not much has changed, but what was added makes each round feel especially unique.
If you pre-ordered Ninja Gaiden 3, you got a demo that had two characters in it depending on the system (Ayane/Hayate for PS3, Hayabusa/Hitomi for Xbox). If you blew $100 bucks on the Collector’s Edition (-raises hand-) you got the Premium Edition of the demo, which includes all four characters. I don’t know what made them split the cast between both platforms, but needless to say most bought the Collector’s Edition solely for the demo and I seemed to have noticed a lot of people on the forums begging for that Premium Edition code. It goes to show you that the fire for this series hasn’t died down much, if any at all.
If you’re familiar with any of the four characters, you might just jump into the match and start kicking butt like before. However, we have a new mechanic called the Power Blow. With the press of a button (you can also hold to delay the move) your character will perform an attack that, if it connects, causes a cinematic beatdown similar to Ultra Combos in Street Fighter IV. At the end, the screen slows down to turtle speed as the character prepares the final blow and this is where it gets interesting because you are then given the option of choosing where to knock the opponent. Also during this time, the stage gets chaotic and you can make the attack even more climactic by knocking the opponent into specific areas like a generator, against some beams which sets up another part I’ll cover in a moment, or maybe into a flying car.
You may remember in previous games that you were able to knock opponents from high stories or into another segment of the stage for additional damage. In DoA5, this mechanic changes a bit. If you put a character into position to where they can be knocked into another part of the stage, the attack turns cinematic again and you can choose to strike them down or throw them down into the next segment. The defending player can choose to block or evade. I didn’t get this part down much, but I assume it’s a guessing game in which one either counters the other or reduces damage. I didn’t appreciate Hayabusa busting an Izuna Drop on me from a ten story building. That was probably the most epic Izuna Drop I’ll ever see, though. You can use Power Blow to set up these sequences as well. This is where the whole “Fighting Entertainment” concept comes into play.
Even though this is merely a demo and is definitely not the definitive build of the game, I can see where Tecmo is heading with Dead or Alive. It feels like they want the series to be more than just fighting…and boobs. Speaking of the latter, I’m actually digging the redesigns of the female cast. They look more like women and less like barbie dolls with melons. Granted the series was known for that, and it’s not quite gone, but I for one appreciate the toning down of that. If you like your jiggles, they are still there so don’t worry. Hopefully Tecmo makes this demo available to all users in the future, and maybe enable online play. Other than more interaction with stages and the inclusion of Power Blow, it’s still Dead or Alive. As dramatic of a change as Tecmo claims this game will make, I only hope that the end product lives up to the hype. It’s a good start, though. Too bad Akira from Virtua Fighter wasn’t included in the demo. I would have spent more time palming and shoulder charging people to no end.
Here’s a video for you. Watch me own with Ayane and nearly get spanked cause I suck with Hayate.