Girls! Girls! Girls! When you pick up a Dead or Alive fighting game, you know what you're getting, and you can measure it in inches of bust, waist, and hips. Dead or Alive 4, now surgically enhanced for Xbox 360, is no exception. If only it could be a little more fun.
Conceptually, there's certainly nothing wrong with the one-on-one battles. Combatants batter one another around using Lucha Libre, Jeet Kun Do, Ninjitsu, and several other styles of formalized hurt that are as tricky to master as they are to pronounce. Unusual and interactive levels include a seaside fruit stand, a prehistoric paradise, a destructable dojo, and an electrified wrestling ring. You might smash through a wall into a completely new room; you might be brawling in the street and get hit by a car. Where do you want to have your ass kicked today?
Storywise there's a couple of excitable ninjettes being all shrieky at each other and a main thread featuring cloning. DOA regulars will find these melodramatic goings on as surprising as the cast's textbook erotic appeal. Yes, the men too. And no, we don't. But whatever your posture, it's really all about sub-titled smack talk and impossibly sexy people kicking each other in the implants.
There are more than ever now, too. New characters include Mexican wrestler babe La Mariposa, gorgeous geisha-in-training Kokora, and Eliot, the beautiful, barely-legal blonde apprentice who turns out to be an upsettingly pretty dude. Expect to feel a bit wrong.
Of course, it's tough for anyone to appear ugly in this game; DOA4 unspools all the high-quality prerendered cutscenes you can handle, and graphics don't lose their luster when the intros are over and the cats start scratching. Petals fall softly on the air, colors and bustlines burst forth from ornate dresses, and loose cargo pants ripple in high winds (hair still moves like wet spaghetti, though). DOA4's blood-free battles and visceral visuals represent a perfectly perverse world of violent eyegasms.