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     " This is the last step before video games lead to [spanking the proverbial Game Monkey] "

   Title: DOA2 Hardcore (Dead or Alive 2Ö) by Tecmo

   Format: Fighting game for PS2

   Reviewing Monkey: Simi N.

   The Hype: Multi-tiered fighting stages, English or Japanese voice options, emphasis on reversals, 10 modes of play!

      What This Monkey Thought...

   Graphics: This is by far the best looking fighting game I have ever seen. The graphics are amazing from the characters to the backgrounds. The environments are beautifully detailed, try not to get too distracted though or youíll find yourself getting whomped on. And, if backgrounds arenít what you get off on, flowing hair and clothes, rounded and well shaped muscles along with the smooth animations make these characterís something to behold. Not to mention, if you thought Lara Croft was hotÖ. As my brotherís best friend stated when he first saw this game, " this is the last step before video games lead to [spanking the proverbial Game Monkey]." That may be going a bit too far, but you get the picture. 5 out of 5.

   Sound: The sound is very nice. Be prepared for some really cheesy voice-overs if you listen to the English language version. But its way cooler listening to the Japanese voices anyway, at least you canít tell what type of cheese theyíre shoveling. The sound of hitting your opponent is unrealistic, as it is in all fighting games, but it does add to the excitement. And the soundtrack is pretty good. There are some songs that are lack luster, but overall itís worth hearing. 4 Ĺ out of 5.

   Game Play: The game play is where this game really stands out. Lots of modes of play, tight controls, killer moves, and a great flow. Most intriguing though, is that in this game it is absolutely true that the best offense is a good defense. Primarily, thatís because of the gameís heavy use of reversals. Instead of trying to beat your opponent to death in 30 seconds, you will do much better to stand back and wait for your opponent to attack, at which point you grab his leg and bounce his head off the ground like a two bit basket ball. I tell ya itís beautiful. 5 out of 5.

   Level and Environment Designs: Really, thereís two things you little Monkeys need to know about the stages. 1) The environments are just flat out gorgeous. Stunningly sharp graphics and nice character-environment interaction (in one level when your characters stand on top of a vent, their hair and clothing get blown upwards - - nice) make this game awesome. 2) And by far one of the coolest features ever seen in a fighting game, is that the environments are almost all multi-tiered. Shuck some sucker through a window, kick Ďem through a wall, toss Ďem off a ledge, and watch gleefully as they take damage bouncing off their dumb ass heads. This calls for some exploration value, and some simply amazing attacks. 5 out of 5.

   Multiplayer: Multiplayer, again, shines like a golden banana in the night. Tag team has got to be the greatest innovation in fighting game history, and this game takes full advantage. Whether you want to play two, or four players, this game lets you do it in style. And the special tag attacks that the characters posses are jaw dropping. Get ready for hours of fun beating the living crap out of your buddies. 5 out of 5.

   Replayability: The highest of the high. This game is just plain fun to play, even by yourself. Not to mention the awesome multiplayer value, and the various modes of play. But then there are still a ton of secrets to unlock for the characters (most women have eight costumes, the men each have six) it will take you a long time to get them all, but it will actually be fun to do. 5 out of 5.

   Story/Dramatics: This is the one gripe about the game. Sure you are given plenty of very nice story mode cut scenes to look at, but none of them make any damn sense whatsoever. They certainly donít give any insight on the characters. But this is a small complaint, because who ever bought a fighting game for its story? The answer: NO BODY! 3 out of 5.

   Instructions and Learning Curve: The instructions are perfect. They give you a nice intro, good history on all of the types of characters, Shinobi, Tengu, etc. And they provide you with a complete moves list on all of the normal characters. They cover the bases for you. As far as the learning curve is concerned, it will take a while to get the hang of the reversals, but other than that the moves are pretty simple. You wonít master any characters in an hour, but you will be able to beat the game with them. 5 out of 5.

   Installation and Real System Requirements: This game uses 85 KB on your PS2 memory card. It supports the Dual shock, and Dual shock 2 controllers, yes it even uses the analog sticks. And for multiplayer, you can hook up a PS2 multi-tap. 5 out of 5.

   The Verdict:

       This is the best fighting game Iíve ever played; no PS2 library would be complete without it.

   The Good: Great graphics, truly stunning moves, tons of game play options and four-player tag team support.

   The Bad: The story lines just donít make sense.

   The Overall Ugly: Awesome backgrounds, sweet moves and sexy outfits, what more could you want from a video fighting game? Multiplayer? Well you got that, too.

   What it's Worth: : This game is worth the market, maybe even a few bucks more than that.

Buy it now from Amazon.com

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