25 September 2008 | jaywolfenstien
How to kill a good fighting game
DOA4 is the tragic case of a spectacular fighting game whose single player modes completely and utterly ruin the entire experience. Unless you A.) are a hardcore veteran of the DOA world, B.) have friends who play the game and/or play online. Or C.) enjoy learning by the "if you don't have perfect timing and execution, I will smash your face in with a baseball bat" school of teaching, then you might want to find something more worthwhile to do with your money (like using it as suppositories for your pets, for example.)
In fighting game's past, the player was presented with six to eight difficulty options. Dead or Alive 4 has three options, and on "Normal" (the easiest) you can expect to be stunned, staggered, popped up, juggled for a nine hit combo, slammed into the wall twice and 75% of your life is gone. When you get up to retaliate, assuming you make it up, you can expect the AI to counter your attack, putting you right back down on the ground. Meanwhile, it plays a mean mix-up game making it nigh impossible to counter them.
And once you dredge through seven matches of fighting game hell, you might get the privilege of facing Alpha-152 who can teleport out of range of the first hit of your combo into the path of the second hit and teleport out of range (again) where she counters. That counter? It takes off 75% of your health. No, I'm not exaggerating. Her teleports also have a knack for throwing off your button input, which really doesn't matter because she teleported off camera and punishes you before you can even see where she went (much less have time to retaliate.) In other words, there is no conceivable way Alpha-152 could lose unless you get lucky.
And that's how the entire single player experience feels. A game of luck. Forget skill, forget timing, forget mixing up high/mids/lows, punches/kicks. If the computer wants to counter you, it will. If it doesn't, you might win. Might. Do you feel lucky, punk? Oh, and by the way, much of the unlocking involves beating this insane Russian roulette of a challenge multiple times per character.
That's all fine and dandy for veterans of the series looking for steeper competition from the easy AI of DOA's past, but um, Team Ninja
what about those of us who have to work out the cobwebs from when we last played DOA half a decade ago? Or what about people just coming to the series cold? Team Ninja's answer is apparently for the rest of us to "F*** off."
Now be careful because I'm not complaining about the difficulty I'm complaining about the lack of a choice. Again, challenge is nice. There's nothing wrong with a challenge. But to take away the freedom of meeting said challenge when the player is ready? That is unforgivable for a fighting game.
DOA4's lack of a choice and it's "challenge" had an interesting side-effect: for the first time in my fighting game career I actually cared that the endings are irrelevant animated anecdotes that have nothing to do with the, ahem, "story." I'll accept a laughable excuse for a plot read my review of Symphony of the Night or Soul Calibur IV for proof. But, Tecmo, if I have to give up part of my soul to beat your frickin' game, you better deliver more than half-assed endings and a stupid bonus costume.
It pains me to write a review so negative. It really does. I do like the franchise and, as stated in the first paragraph, it is a spectacular, fast paced, fighting game.
One of the major standouts of the DOA series is the detailed interactive environments environments so well done they actually overshadow the character models. Not only can you smash your opponent into a wall, send them flying through a window, falling from a narrow rope bridge, or tumbling down a flight of steps now you can also knock them over furniture, railings, or a street median
and then jump over and drop kick them as they get up. Oh, and now environment can finally hit back most notably on a city street where drivers aren't afraid to plow through pedestrians or combatants (10 points for nailing a pedestrian, 50 points for a combatant, and infinity points to run down the SOB who thought Alpha-152 was a good idea.)
Initially, you get control of sixteen colorful characters, including wrestlers (Bass, Tina), street brawlers (Bayman), ninjas (Hayabuse, Kasumi, Ayane), the obligatory Bruce Lee impersonator (Jan Lee), an assassin (Christie), and a bit of everything. As per fighting game tradition, the roster expands as you endure story mode time and time again, opening up Ein, Helena, Leon, Gen-Fu, Tengu, and a Halo cameo. While the environments are spectacular, the character models all look like animated figurines and not flesh and blood characters. They're okay, but it's hardly the graphical step up a next gen system's fighter could take.
As much as I like the fighting engine. I absolute despise the god-awful one-player experience. I can't say it enough. It ruins the game. If DOA4 did not have an online mode, it would not be worth your time. Much less your money.