PlayStation Gamer REVIEW

DEAD OR ALIVE

Publisher:
Developer:
Type:
Tecmo
In-house
3D Fighting
Version tested:
Reviewed by:
Date posted:
NTSC - US
Joe Chan
04/13/98

Dead or Alive - screenshot Before "Dead or Alive" was announced for the PlayStation, it was already one of my favourites in the arcades. Because the arcade version used Sega's Model 2 board, many people just thought it was a poor Virtua Fighter clone. While it's true that "Dead or Alive" uses a similar control system, and that the graphics looked very similar, the game itself played quite differently. But later, when the Saturn version was released, people began to realize what a great game it really is. Now, the PlayStation version is here.

It's easy to see the differences between the PlayStation version and the arcade version. Gone are those beautiful 3D backgrounds, replaced with some rather boring 2D pre-rendered CG images. But the fighters themselves look fantastic! They are fully gouraud-shaded, which makes them all look round and smooth. Light-sourcing is used as well, which looks especially great on the stages with a sunset background. Good use of texture-mapping also enhance the look of the characters. And on the top of that, the game also runs in high-resolution, interlaced, at 60 frames per second! So overall, the game looks very nice, even though the backgrounds could have been more interesting.

Dead or Alive - screenshot Concerning the sounds, the background music is quite good. Personally, I liked all of the tracks. There is style to them. All the characters have their own voice actor, which is a rather nice feature. (Tecmo has left the Japanese voices intact in the American version.) The sound effects are OK too. There are bone-cracking sounds when you perform some of the nastier moves, explosion sounds when you hit the Danger Zone, etc.

But the most important thing about a fighting game is the gameplay, and it's here where "Dead or Alive" really shines. There are only 3 buttons - Hold, Punch and Kick. Using these buttons, you can perform three kinds of attacks - Hold, Strike and Throw. Punches and kicks are Strikes. Using the Hold button, you can parry away Strikes and counter-attack at the same time. But the Hold button can't counter throws. So basically, Hold beats Strike, Strike beats Throw, and Throw beats Hold (like paper, scissors and rock).

Dead or Alive - screenshot It's quite easy to get into the game. The first stages are easy. But later, the opponents get much tougher, and it really helps if you master the Hold button. It requires concentration and good timing to parry a Strike successfully. And the game is FAST! Skilled players can parry each others attacks back and forth, and it's very cool to watch. The intense gameplay makes the game really enjoyable. And like "Virtua Fighter", the more you play it, the better you get. The CPU is not stupid. If you want to beat the game without using dozens of continues, you better master your character's moves.

Each character has tons of special moves, more than what the manual says. Combos do a lot of damage, but the multi-part throws are quite useful as well. They are harder to perform, but can rip off more than a half of your opponent's life. Here's where the Practice Mode comes handy. You can go through most of the moves with ease in the Practice Mode. There are other game modes like Time Attack and Survival too. There's also a Kumite mode where you can battle up to 100 opponents in a row, one by one.

Dead or Alive - screenshot There are no CG FMV endings for the characters, which is a bad thing. The only CG FMV is the opening intro, which I thought was very good. But when you beat the game, some secrets can be revealed. You get new costumes for your characters, and hidden options get unlocked (including Extra Voices and a CG Gallery!).

"Dead or Alive" focuses heavily on the female characters, which is already apparent in the opening intro. I'm sure you have heard about their bouncing breasts. They look better than ever in the PlayStation version. Also, the female characters have all up to 14 costumes, while the male characters have only 5! Some of the costumes are really, really cool. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Dead or Alive supports the Sony Dual Shock analog controller. The rumbling effect is cool! Another new feature added to the PlayStation version is the Hit Effect. There's a small burst of energy if you hit your opponent with a powerful move. Kinda similar to "Tekken". Personally, I don't like it much. If they wanted to make the game look more dramatic, they could have added a Blood Effect like "Bloody Roar". At least it would have been more realistic, which is what "Dead or Alive" is about.

All in all, "Dead or Alive" is definitely one of the most enjoyable (if not THE most enjoyable) 3D fighting games I've played so far. The intense gameplay is really fun, and the graphics and sounds are great. If only there were CG FMV endings for the characters, and if the backgrounds looked more interesting, it would have been perfect.

Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by Joe Chan, wchan@sn.no

Special thanks to ACTION STATION for providing the review copy.

(c) Tecmo


Action Station
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