Dead or Alive Ultimate Updated Impressions

Tecmo stops by to give us an updated look at its online brawler.

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While we just got an exclusive look at Dead or Alive Ultimate earlier this month, Tecmo recently came by with an updated version of the game. Aside from showing off Hitomi, a new addition to the roster of fighters you'll have to choose from in the game, we were able to check out the tweaks made to the fighting system in Dead or Alive 2 since we last saw it. Additionally, we got the chance to try the game online. You can even check out many of the beatings we took in a huge assortment of new gameplay movies.

The gameplay in Ultimate's version of DOA2 has been brought in line with that of DOA3.

While you'd think that not much would have changed since we saw the game a few weeks ago, Team Ninja appears to be full of surprises. DOAU now features a few significant adjustments that were made to its fighting system. The free-movement system is now modeled after Dead or Alive 3's simple system, which let you make your way around the ring by double-tapping up or down on the controller. Furthermore, the counter-hold system is now patterned after Dead or Alive 3's as well, which offers players more counter options than DOA2's more modest system.

The online bouts worked well--much like they did during our last visit with the game--and offered a relatively solid experience. As before, there were a few hiccups that needed to be ironed out in the work-in-progress version of the game we played, but the overall experience was solid.

Also during our time with the game, we were able to play the original Dead or Alive online, which we hadn't had the chance to do previously. Although the team is still perfecting some of the onscreen elements for the online bouts in DOA, the game was perfectly playable. Admittedly, playing an Xbox conversion of a game online isn't exactly mind-blowing, but the one we played still performed admirably. You won't be able to manipulate the camera when you're just watching a fight like you can in DOA2, which is mostly due to the fact that such functionality--at the height of DOA's original popularity--would have caused Saturns across Japan to explode (because the old 32-bit systems weren't big too on camera manipulation).

The graphics have continued to improve in subtle ways since we last saw the game. The high poly and detailed fighter models are given an extra layer of polish courtesy of a rich lighting system. While the lighting doesn't stand out much on the daytime, outdoor stages, you'll notice a lot of subtle shading in the stages that are set at dusk, in the rain during a lightning storm, and indoors. Of the new stages, there were a few standouts that caught our eyes. Namely, there was the nightclub, a revamped DOA stage, and the African plains. The nightclub was the flashiest of the stages, complete with sexy images of the ladies of DOA on a video wall with neon lights flashing. A reworking of Gen Fu's stage from DOA, enhanced by a storm that came fully loaded with rain and dramatic flourishes of lightning, was runner-up. The African plains stage was a nifty new offering that featured a mud puddle to knock your foes around in as well as assorted wildlife milling about the combat area. Aside from the refreshing sense of open space to the area, the fact that you could knock your opponent into an elephant easily made the stage a favorite.

As always, Dead or Alive Ultimate's graphics are quite fetching.

There's not much more to report on the audio other than to say that the new areas will obviously present fresh music tracks. The nightclub stage features a bouncy--no pun intended--techno tune that suits it well and is probably the standout piece of the new music tracks. Hitomi's voice samples are on par with her appearance in DOA3, so the audio in the game is solid and comes across admirably on a 5.1 sound system.

We said it before, and we'll say it again: Dead or Alive Ultimate has all the makings of a must-have game if you're looking for some online fighting action. A meaty assortment of modes, leaderboards, and support for an audience of up to seven other players all add up to a promising title that will be worth a chunk of your time when it ships. Dead or Alive Ultimate is currently slated to ship this October for the Xbox, so look for more on the game in the coming months.

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