Dead Or Alive 2: Hardcore
Or How I learned to Create mighty breasted fighters and Make a lot of money.
Tecmo distributed its first Dead Or Alive in 1998. Released on Sega Saturn in Japan, in the United States the game was released on Playstation to fight against what was considered the king of the fighting genre, Tekken, which was out in that period with its third instalment on the same console. In terms of copies sold, the winner was with no doubt Tekken, but Dead Or Alive showed that the genre could take a different direction.
After two years, Tecmo has decided to publish Dead Or Alive 2 both on Dreamcast and Ps2, with a great shock for all Sega's fans. Once again, the contest between Namco, which has released its Tekken Tag Tournament for Ps2, and Tecmo is inevitable. Close to these two great titles in the list of Ps2 launch titles there is also another fighting game, Street Fighter Ex3, but this is surely too antiquated to aim at the title of Playstation 2 fighting game of the year.
If you want a good fighting game and you are uncertain on which one will fit your needs try to read, first of all, our reviews. Give a glance to the large number of screenshots and then, if you want to try with your own eyes, rent the games before buying them. Remember that all the reviews are always personal opinions. Don't believe those reviewers that pretend to give objective, universal judgment of games, even if they write on big newspapers or on a great site that you love. The final decision is always up to you. We can just give you some hint and some warnings to avoid you spend all your hard-earned (*cough*) money on a game you'll hate.
But now, let's start with our review.
Dead Or Alive 2: Hardcore includes 14 different characters; two of them, Bayman and Tengu (the boss of the game), are hidden and present only in the western (U.S. and European) version of the game. In comparison to the 40 characters featured in Tekken Tag Tournament, and also in comparison to the 26 of Street Fighter Ex3, the fighters of Dead Or Alive 2: Hardcores are decidedly disappointing. Even if the developers (the Team Ninja) have done a good job realizing detailed three-dimensional models, they have not been able to create interesting, strong characters like Jin and Hwoarang or like Ryu and Blanka.
Yeah, I know. Probably the polygonal girls of Dead Or Alive 2: Hardcores will delight all you Playboy fans out there, but the lover of fighting games, forced to choose among curvaceous girls and fighters who look like masked idiots, could be tempted to throw this game out of their window.
The structure of the arenas in Dead Or Alive 2: Hardcore takes various elements from the first chapter of the series and from another great game, Virtua Fighter 3. From VF3, DoA2 inherits the use of inclinations and uneven grounds that influence the effectiveness of the performed movements while the presence of Danger Zones come straight from the first Dead Or Alive. The true novelty resides however in the structure of the arenas. In DOA2 not only the arenas are completely interactive but they also have different plans or levels. Throwing your adversary through a window, in fact, will let you pass in a new area of the arena to continue the fight. To make some examples, in the game there is an arena called Demon's Church. If you are enough skilled and fast, you'll be able to break the glass window of this Gothic church with the body of your victim, launching him/her to a flight of about twenty meters. If he/she will withstand the fall, your clash will continue in the courtyard of the church. In the game there are a lot of different multilevel arenas, all with many Danger Zones shed here and there. For example, let's say I'm fighting in the Death Valley: this is a small arena where you will continuously risk to end your days because of dangerous electrified cables and some very friendly missiles. In this Ps2 version there are 8 more arenas respect to the Dreamcast version; from this point of view, Dead Or Alive 2: Hardcore surely beats Tekken Tag Tournament.
To a complex structure of the arenas correspond however very intuitive controls. DOA 2 use only three buttons (triangle, circle, X) for the special techniques; the game doesn't reach the extraordinary depth guaranteed by the innumerable moves in Tekken Tag Tournament; the fourth button will allow you to stop the attacks of the adversary. Besides, you'll need some practice to turn the rush of the enemy that tries to strike you in your favour, using the X button. This techniques, which constitute the reversal system typical of the previous instalment of the game, is surely more complex than the simple Tekken moves used to stop your enemies' attacks. The hand-to-hand struggles in Dead Or Alive 2 are extremely realistic and, at the same time, amusing. In the Tag mode you can choose two characters to fight in couple against an opposite team. You can launch your partner against the adversaries or you can perform some movements using both the characters. You begin the movements with your first character and then you switch to the second completing the move: in this way you'll get very cool blows. Not so powerful like you could imagine just looking at them, but hey, these are beautiful moves and that's a good reason to learn them. If you will choose as a partner the proper character, you can perform more special moves. Some couples, in the game, shine indeed; a pair of examples of good teams are Kasumi and Hayabusa or Bass and Tina (hmmmm.... are they in love?) .
There are several usual game modes in Dead Or Alive 2. The Time Attack is the classical fight way. There are three rounds, each with a limited time and the first player that succeeds in defeating twice his adversary is the winner. In the Story Mode you will fight a series of one-round battles. At the beginning and at the end of each of this battles there are short, ridiculous, exhilarating dialogues that should constitute the "story" of this game mode, surely the worst in Dead Or Alive 2. The Survival Mode is with no doubt more enjoyable; here you will have to face in succession all the other characters with only one energy bar. You can pick up various objects that will give you bonus points or that will restore part of your energy. There is also a practice mode to let you train before playing the real game.
If you've read everything up to here, there would be no need to say that Dead Or Alive 2: Hardcore has a very good gameplay. The interactive multi-plan arenas are magnificent and the controls are rather pleasant; overall this game developed by Team Ninja is currently the most innovative fighting game for Ps2. Nevertheless the little number of movements and playable characters is not a secondary fault in a fighting game . 14 fighters are really a bunch, especially if you think that Tekken Tag Tournament have about forty characters with dozens of moves. The lovers of the genre will probably prefer the depth of Tekken's gameplay to the digital girls of DOA2.