When Dead or Alive 3 came out as an Xbox launch title, I wasn’t truly impressed with its gameplay. Sure the game was drop dead gorgeous, and showcased the power of the Xbox, the game played similar to DOA 2, right down to the cheap "counter every move you do" AI that the computer is notorious for.
This time, Tecmo decided to take a step backwards with the release of Dead or Alive Ultimate. Rather than making a brand new game based on the DOA series, Team Ninja packed both the original DOA (based on Sega’s Model 2 engine) and an enhanced version of the Dreamcast’s Dead or Alive 2.
Anyone who is familiar with DOA 2 on the Dreamcast will fit in well with Ultimate, but all the characters from the DOA series (with the exception of Christie from DOA3) are now available. Some of the characters need to be unlocked, but what I do not like is to unlock Hitomi, you actually need to have a save file from either DOA 3 or DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball.
What is Tecmo thinking? Forcing people to buy another game to unlock all the characters? Hopefully they’ll make this up by offering her as an Xbox Live download.
Extra characters are not the only things available for unlocking. Extra costumes are also available for beating the Story mode. There are up to 20 costumes available for character (mostly for the females).
But the biggest selling factor for DOA Ultimate is playing on Xbox Live. It is also the game’s biggest problem.
Games on Xbox Live are still one on one matches, but players are lined up in a ladder setting. They can be set up so the winner or loser stays, or one person attacks everyone else in a Survival Mode, and both modes work quite well.
What doesn’t work well, at least most of the time, is the connection speed. When DOA Ultimate is running without any lag at all, the game is quite enjoyable, but when someone with a bad connection joins in, that is when the lag kicks in, and the game actually freezes occasionally. It can get to the point where the game is just downright unplayable.
And for anyone who wants to play DOA1 online, good luck. Every time I went to the DOA 1 servers, they were empty.
Still, the game is gorgeous as always (well, DOA 2 at least). Anyone who was wowed with the graphic engine of DOA 3 will not notice any difference here. However, the graphic engine of DOA 1 shows the Model 2 board’s age (the game is 10 years old).
In the end, DOA Ultimate is a passable fighting game, with visuals that show off the power of the Xbox quite well. But for those looking for a true sequel, as opposed to an upgrade of DOA 1 and 2 will be disappointed.
In addition, Xbox Live members looking for a good fight run the risk of enduring horrid lag, but if it runs smoothly, it can be quite enjoyable. Still, one must beware of the final product, and a 3 + gem rating is the result.