Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore Review

Ben Silverman
Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore Info


  • Fighting


  • 1 - 2


  • Tecmo


  • Team Ninja

Release Date

  • 03/24/2015
  • Out Now


  • PS2


Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting…

Most of us have absolutely no idea how to fight. I mean sure, we get drunk

and mad and try to kick and punch each other, but it always ends up looking

like a bad Three Stooges skit. Arms flailing and fingers flying, a street

brawl between two untrained fighters is one of the most ridiculous and entertaining

spectacles you can hope to see, coming in just behind blind midget breakdancing

and monkeys doing, well, anything.

Fighting games serve to satiate our total lack of combat prowess by letting

us pretend that we know all sorts of kick-ass martial arts. We can perform flying

round kicks, tiger punches, foot sweeps and dragon chops from the relative safety

of the couch. Really the only trouble we can get in is pulling a muscle while

attempting one of those Ultra Super Mega Street Fighter moves or staining the

carpets by stepping on a loose Cheeto.

So it comes as no surprise that two of the high profile games for the PS2

are brawlers. The first, Tekken Tag,

offered little new to fighting fans, opting instead to refine and perfect an

already proven system. The second is DOA 2: Hardcore, which, for all

intents and purposes, does pretty much the same thing, albeit with much bigger


Hardcore is essentially an enhanced version of Dead

or Alive 2
, which came out for the Dreamcast in the US and the PS2 in Japan.

For the most part it’s the same game, though Hardcore sports a few very

nifty new features.

But first, the basics. The fighting system in DOA is geared towards

button mashing, as there aren’t a billion moves for each character. To combat

this, the game has a one-button reversal system that can counter just about

any blow. The result is a game of timing and tension rather than learning a

bunch of combos.

Visually, this ends up looking great. Hardcore is a very pretty game,

showing off the power of the PS2 nicely…though not any better than the Dreamcast

version. Still, the snow level looks amazing, as do the stages with sunsets.

The characters look terrific. Seamless polygons and incredibly lifelike movements

coupled with the reversal system and multi-tiered levels lead to one of the

most cinematic action games in town. You’ll grab a kick in mid-air and counter

with a three-punch reversal, which sends your opponent sailing over the edge

of a castle wall for a 50-foot freefall drop. Then you pounce down after him

and continue the fight. This is good stuff.

Story mode allows you to take any of the 8 characters through a series of battles

to uncover their past. Or at least that was the concept, though the end product

is a thoroughly disjointed and ill-conceived excuse for a plot. I’ve played

through with every character, read the manual from cover to cover, and still

have NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON. Next time, someone hire a guy (or baby, or a chimp)

to write a decent story.

The other modes include Time Attack, Sparring and Tag Team, which pits 2 on

2. This allows for some brutal double team throws. A few new levels have been

added in Tag mode, which is a nice touch. One brand new mode altogether allows

you to actually record an entire fight for playback, so you can slow-mo the

massacre. It’s really cool, though I wish they integrated it into the other

modes rather than make it an entire mode unto itself. Any garage band would

tell you that sometimes the coolest stuff happens when you least expect it,

not when you happen to hit the “record” button.

Survival mode has been altered a bit as well. Rather than just going for as

many kills as possible, you’re going for points. The longer you last and the

more ass you kick leads to a higher score. You can also collect items, which

can give added health and eventually open up new costumes and stuff.

Speaking of which, there are a ton of new costumes to unlock, though doing

so is a royal pain. You have to beat each mode a million times with each guy.

Ah, nothing like a reward for repetition. Practice may make perfect, but I’d

gladly take “fun” instead.

Sadly, there are only two new characters, one of which (Bayman) is just a tweaked

version of a standard character (Leon.) That means that after unlocking everything,

there are only 10 playable characters. Considering what other fighting games

offer (Soul Calibur, anyone?),

this is a measly helping and was clearly just an afterthought. It’s too bad,

really, since the gameplay is so fun.

What would DOA be without boob jubbling (which, by the way, is Tecmo’s

technical term for the excessive breast bounciness)? The girls of DOA

let it all hang out, but I’m disappointed that they didn’t integrate the jubbling

into the fighting. I keep waiting for a move called the “Slammary!”

The sound effects are fine, though the music is just awful. Can we stop with

the 1988 heavy metal guitar riffs? I didn’t know Motley Crue had a patent on

the genre!

The big question is obvious: how does this stack up against Tekken Tag?

Well, that’s sort of like asking how Frosted Flakes compare with Fruit

. They’re both sugar-coated and they’re both bad for you, but they

taste different. Tekken fans will probably dislike the somewhat limited

depth of DOA Hardcore, though the cool reversal system and tremendous

graphics make it worth the price of admission for most.


Great graphics
More depth...
...but still not quite enough
Only 10 characters