Dead Or Alive 2: Hardcore Review

By: John Doe

All I wanted was more tag arena's and I got them. So I'm pretty much happy here. DOA2: Hardcore is a great title which will delight fighting fans that own Sony's new machine. I really got into the DC version and this one just offers more of a great thing. Cool.


Right off the bat, there are 5 new Tag arenas over the DC version released last winter. That's great. They aren't multi-tiered Tag arena's, but at least there is more than one. The same roster of fighters is present, with some new costumes to unlock. The same amount of characters to choose from is a low point, with only two characters to unlock (Tengu & Bayman). All of the characters have received new moves, new fighting arenas have been added and I believe there are new hidden areas in some of the old fighting arenas. Everything about DOA2 is an improvement over the Naomi based game that existed in the arcades and eventually the DC.

Graphically this game is sweet. The animation is super smooth, the frame rate is locked at 60 FPS and the ability to take the fight almost anywhere is enough to make the most jaded gamer drool. After playing a game like Fighter Maker last year, I marvel at how Tecmo puts a game together that looks and plays like this. The collision detection alone must have taken months of tweaking. To many, this game will be nothing more than a button mashing pitstop before another PS2 game gets tossed into the drive; but that's just wrong. If you learn to really play this game, there is more depth here than cleavage. You have to learn to counter attack. I've said it before and I'll say it again, "A button masher doesn't stand a chance against a seasoned player of DOA2." When you watch two (or four) people play this game that really know what they are doing, it is as beautiful as watching ballet; except with crotch smashes and neck punches.

The gameplay still remains with the 3 to 4 button setup. One button for punch, one for kick, one for throw, and one for Free. Free mode allows you to move with a decent amount of freedom around the arena. However, as the Left (or Right) analog stick can be used for this as well, and it works much better than the button, stick with that. The moves in DOA2 tend up to be a nod towards the Virtua Fighter style of button commands more than anything, and it works well. All of the moves are listed in the manual, and to pull some of them off, you better head to the Sparring Mode, where you can train against a CPU controlled character of your choice.

The 1 player main game, Story mode has received a bit of attention. This time the voices are in English. They don't exactly speak it very well; ie: the translation is still fractured English, but you might be able to piece together the individual characters threadbare stories more easily in Hardcore. Along with the English voices you'll also fight in some new arenas and even see some fresh CG's along the way. The Tag mode, which is a particular favorite of mine, has had the number of arenas increased from 1 to 5 for this PS2 version. I still don't see why the characters can't have Tag mode while playing in the multi-tiered stages, but perhaps that's why I review the games and don't make them. Selecting characters that are related in some way (Tina and Bass for example) can be called upon to do damage together in tag mode. Most characters have received a couple of extra moves in this department, which will spice things up for those familiar with previous incarnations of DOA2.

The one downer about the whole game has got to be the limited amount of fighters to choose from. 14 Characters when compared to Tekken Tag's 24+ is just weak. In that sense, the replayability might be limited for some who are addicted to beating a game just to unlock more extras. Personally I just like a good fight every now and then and luckily DOA2: Hardcore delivers.

If you own the DC version, then give this one a rent first to see if there is enough here to warrant a purchase. I think it is more than worthy, but I'm not you, now am I? Get 4 players on this game (but buy the multi-tap first) and you'll be kicking ass until the morning comes. Is it better than Tekken Tag? Maybe not better; just different.






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