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8/10

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Dead or Alive 4

It’s safe to say that the Dead or Alive series has more than its fair share of knockers.

Some people hate it – with a passion – but why? Let’s run through the charges: eye candy covering up for a lacklustre fighting system; gratuitous T&A at the expense of real innovation; me-too characters; ludicrously inconsistent game AI. Guess what? They all have a ring of truth, and they all apply to DoA4. Yet that shouldn’t blind you to one simple thing: the series first 360 outing is a blast. While it’s suspiciously rough around some of its edges, I’m still hard pressed to name a more entertaining fighting game I’ve played in recent years.

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I must admit that a lot of this is down to the eye candy factor – in fact, to be more honest than I’d like, some of it’s probably down to the T&A. Amazingly, the series’ sexism has actually got worse: the breasts are getting bigger, the costumes are getting smaller and the underwear shots are on the increase. One end-of-story cut scene has the character’s breasts being groped, while another sets an assassination in a strip club. Were I a fifteen year old boy I might think I’d died and gone to heaven, but as a grown man I find it all a little bit, well, embarrassing.

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Still, all the curves and cleavage look astounding, as does everything else in the game. Perhaps some feel that the characters could take on a more ultra-realistic appearance, but I quite like the contrast between the ridiculous detail in the background scenery and clothing and the anime style of the fighters themselves. And where there is detail, it’s gorgeous. From the embroidery on Lei-Feng’s Chinese gowns to Ryu’s burnished armour to the sequinned strips and shiny textiles of new character, La Mariposa, this is one of those games that just looks better the more you stare. The animation, meanwhile, is simply top notch – fluid, filled with weight and substance, and perfectly, dynamically composed.

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