Gamestyle Wikipedia Page

Thanks to Rogue Soul for the heads up on the Gamestyle Wikipedia page. This was a useful resource to track the history of the website and the team involved – especially the early days. Technically its gone from Wikipedia for whatever reason they want to quote (they’ve lost my pending donation)  and any future support.

However we do have the images of the page and I’ll copy the text beneath as well. That’s what an archive is all about.

gamestyle_wikipedia_1 gamestyle_wikipedia_2 gamestyle_wikipedia_3 gamestyle_wikipedia_4 gamestyle_wikipedia_5

Gamestyle is a UK-based independent computer and video gaming website that was launched in 1999 by Dean Swain, under the name Dreamers128.

Gamestyle covers video game software reviews, previews, news, and other information. After starting out on its own, Gamestyle was linked with a small American media network called FanGen. Later, Gamestyle broke free of FanGen and merged with fellow independent site GameHub.

To date, Gamestyle remains independently operated.


Launched in 1999 by Dean Swain, the site focused exclusively on Dreamcast games, under the guise Dreamers128. Approximately a month after launch, the site rebranded to, became a multi-format site, and began to cover all console systems – though coverage of other consoles was restricted to previews alone.

With sites of this stature somewhat of a rarity, Gamestyle was quickly tied to a small American media network named FanGen who covered running costs of the website. Under FanGen, Gamestyle turned to become a more humorous, ‘punky’ website which displayed images of semi-nude women on the front page.

The FanGen link remained until Gamestyle merged with another UK independent, GameHub. This merger saw an increase in visitors to the site, due to the popularity of GameHub. With each newer build of the website, Gamestyle progressively lost its attitude and tamed the humour in written articles.

To date, the site runs primarily on and is now funded by Dean Swain, Dave Carlson, Matthew Cox and Jason Julier.

Main site

Gamestyle’s main page displays the latest news, reviews, previews, and links to areas for the following platforms: Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance. Visiting each console section shows a list of the latest articles, the most popular games on that console, and an index method for users to track down games of interest as quickly as possible.

The new version of Gamestyle launched on 11 April 2010. The main page was launched a few days earlier but the final release updated the review and preview hubs, allowing further searches and the highlighting of top scoring articles and random pieces from the archives.

Reviews and rating system

Gamestyle has a strict review policy and they themselves believe their reviews to be trustworthy and unbiased, granting a fair review score. While none of the writing team are professionals, Gamestyle delivers new content daily on weekdays and also at weekends.

Though in articles, Gamestyle refers itself in third person, staff writers are also credited. Reviews are also listed on GameRankings,[2] Metacritic,[3] Rotten Tomatoes,[4] andMobyGames.

Their reviews were considered highly enough to be included alongside IGN and Electronic Gaming Monthly on Nintendo‘s UK marketing print campaign for Metroid Prime. These adverts were printed in numerous gaming magazines, on advertising hoardings across UK towns and cities and also online.[citation needed]


Gamestyle is constantly looking to evolve and improve the site. In March 2007 a new feature was launched that connected any posted news story, with a related topic in the forum. This allowed users to discuss events and offer opinions on breaking news in the world of videogames.

2008 version

January 2 saw the launch of the latest version of the Gamestyle site. Then new modern, white look was a dramatic change from its predecessor.


On June 22, 2008 Gamestyle introduced its own blog. The aim of this extension was to attract new regulars to the site and provide an outlet for the whole team to provide extra comments on their reviews or gaming news. The blog is an open forum for staff members to post about anything from films to their latest review.

2010 Version

Arguably the best version of Gamestyle so far. The 2010 edition incorporated comment functions for the first time in years, allowing users of Facebook & Twitter to give their opinions on articles.

2010 Upgrade

As of 1 November 2010, Gamestyle started coverage of mobile phone releases with Fruit Ninja being the first review. This date also marked its arrival on the Opera portal. The front end and forum were matched under the same banner design, allowing greater ease of navigation.

Retro Gamer Magazine Website Of The Month

In issue 60 of the popular Retro Gamer magazine, Gamestyle received their website of the month award.

“Gamestyle has been around now for a staggering ten years and remains one of the most entertaining non-corporate gaming websites around. Featuring a thriving community, Gamestyle prides itself on its well-written and non-biased reviews and covers everything from the latest 360 and PS3 releases to the classics like Metroid and Football Manager.

Indeed, one of Gamestyle’s greatest strengths is that it’s able to offer something for everyone and as a result is a true gamer’s website, with polite and enthusiastic forum members and a small core team of talented writers. Oh and if you fancy a giggle then look for the Project Zero/Fatal Frame review in their massive archive.”

2012 Hack and Rebuild

In 2012 Gamestyle was the victim of an attack and had to rebuild from the very bottom again. Despite losing everything, the current team has pushed on to keep the Gamestyle name running. The focus has shifted somewhat with more reviews based around ‘Indie’ titles and has seen the site build up a solid relationship with indie developers over the months. The team is much smaller now, but by no means any less dedicated.

The reviews are still coming and the site has undergone another redesign.

2013 Back To Social Media

In 2013 Gamestyle decided to get back into the social media space. The Facebook page has become active again along with our Twitter account. All articles will be found on both and the team encourage users to interact.

Gamestyle Offline

Gamestyle also creates and hosts a downloadable PDF magazine. Now published on an infrequent basis, Gamestyle Offline[5] is intended for the visitor to print their own copy for ‘on-the-go’. Gamestyle maintains that download figures of each issue are promising, and are known to have worked with video game publishers such as Vivendi Universal to create special editions.

At the close of 2006 there are eleven issues of the magazine, three of which are special editions. Each issue contained content that one may not typically find on the main site, such as interviews with developers and features on specific subjects. Gamestyle has been known to publish reviews of various titles in Gamestyle Offline, before publishing them online, as a selling point of the PDF magazine.

As of January 9, 2008, Gamestyle began a five-part series called ‘Gamestyle Offline: The Missing Issue’. This brought together the five remaining unpublished features that were intended for Issue 10 which was put together at the end of 2005 with the intention of releasing a new issue in early 2006. Number 10 was meant to represent a new start for the series, with a new look and a new issue editor but unfortunately the project never saw the light of day.

Gamestyle Live podcast

The spirit of the Offline magazine has been carried onto a new format, the podcast. The show covers all the latest news, site developments, reviews, releases and some opinions. It is available via the website or one can subscribe with iTunes.


The Gamestyle forum now has over 1000 members, many who are regular visitors. While this number is smaller than other communities, it enables a more personal level of interaction between members, many of whom take part in meet ups to share their love of video games.


Owner: Dean Swain

Development: Matthew Cox (design) and Dave Carlson (implementation)

Editor: Jason Julier

PR Contact: Bradley Marsh

Writers: Bradley Marsh, Ben Gleisner-Cooke, Mark Ford, Gareth Chappell, Stef Snell, Adam Gulliver, Simon Farrow

Previous Staff: Andrew Revell, Andy Lucas, Anna Ghislaine, Colin Whiteside, Dan Gill, Daniel James, Gareth Chappell, Garry Webber, Gopinath Chandran, Hanley, Tom Knowles, Usman Zia, Richard Meerman, Drew Middlemas

Other previous staff writers for Gamestyle have gone onto further their career, include Garnett Lee of,[6] Ollie Barder of The Guardian and Darren Jones, retro editor ofgamesTM and Retro Gamer.




Gamestyle Archive intro: words cannot put into context how rare a review from Dean Swain was at Gamestyle. The overlord soon settled into his throne whilst the faithful team contributed so much material at times there was a 2 week queue before going live. 

Now Timesplitters was a fun if limited experience with its appeal increased due to the CV of the developers. It really shows where first person gaming was heading and had a strong visual design. This review is an early Gamestyle piece dating from around November 2000.


The game that I was most looking forward too on the PlayStation 2… And why? Because the people behind Timesplitters are a splinter group from the team behind the legendary N64 games, GoldenEye and Perfect Dark. And maybe that’s why I can’t help but feel disappointed with this release, I guess I was expecting a game that would be even better than those two classic first-person shooters, to be fair Timesplitters is a great game but it’s a very simple game compared to GoldenEye, in story mode there is basically no story, yes I know this sounds strange but that’s how this game is.

Free Radical (the team who produced the game) have tried to go back to the game play strategies of games like doom, the basic idea is this – make your way through the level by shooting down the local baddies of that time zone, collect an object which is at the hidden somewhere and then once you have that, then you must make your way back to where you started – by which time the alien scum that is chasing you across the galaxy appear (ok there is a bit of a story) and these little bas#*ds can only be killed by shooting their heads off.

For a Playstation 2 game, the graphics are rather plain (take a look at the sky for starters – it’s just blue – no clouds – no nothing) but the way they move is something special, very fast and very smooth. The only thing that lets it down is the jagged edges, but I guess this is something that PS2 owners will have to get used too (the lack of automatic anti analysing of the PS2 proves annoying) Another thing that players may find annoying are the controls, the left analog stick controls the walking while the right stick controls looking around from left to right & up and down. After you have mastered these strange controls (bring back the N64 controller!) then this game can be very playable – if a little boring on one player mode – it comes alive on multiplayer.

Timesplitters is a return to the old school games of the late eighties, leaving out the cut scenes and getting straight to the point – game play, just don’t expect the stealth and style of GoldenEye.

Gamestyle Score: 7/10

Theme Park World

Gamestyle Archive intro: A really old PS2 review from December 2000 from JJ. Management games never really made a successful jump to the next generation of consoles.


You either love or hate these types of games. For the record I find them a welcome relief after the intense action of Quake III, Daytona 2001 and Timesplitters. Theme Park has appeared on almost every known format to man and then some. The cartoonish nature and gameplay of the original introduced many to the whole management genre.

Theme Park World has already been out on the PSone for sometime and I had high hopes that its PS2 cousin would provide the definitive version with more options, variety and depth. The leap from 32 to 128 bit isn’t represented here and for that fact I’ve marked it down one overall. The graphics do look nice in places but they are rather flat (almost N64) even though the game is in 3D. Slow-down also rears its ugly head when your park becomes busy and the camera can be jerky at times. Theme Park World does have some good points such as the presentation which is first class although we come to expect this from an EA game. The sound is another highlight especially if you have a surround set up, it does help the park come to life.

The control system is excellent and easily picked up and with the help of the advisor you’ll be winning those gold tickets in no time. This brings me to another problem, its too easy and repetition soon sets in. While there are several different types of parks available the only difference between them is purely visual. More goals or tasks such as those in Theme Hospital would have added to the depth and lastability of the game.

As with most PS2 titles to date, expect long loading times. I can’t help but feel that EA and Bullfrog haven’t built on the foundations of the original. This perhaps isn’t surprising with all those FIFA games but then again Madden seems to have been devoted plenty of respect. This version should have featured more options such as designing your own sideshows, arcades, rides and shops. Building the rollercoaster is nice while it lasts but it is limited in options and after its been perfected you’ll loose interest. Sub-games have been included but have less gameplay than any Spectrum or Atari title.

Anyone who suffers from motion sickness will be well advised not to visit some of the rides or anyone who has just eaten. In conclusion then its a disappointment that lacks the charm of the original and fails to provide new challenges. If there is a third incarnation (knowing EA there must be) perhaps then we’ll see the true sequel fans were hoping for.

Gamestyle Score: 6/10

Smuggler’s Run

Gamestyle Archive intro: hilarious isn’t it? You would be forgiven for believing this was an incomplete review but no this is a very early short and sweet Gamestyle review dating from November 2000 and JJ. A launch PS2 title, it is most likely the first review we had for Sony’s new format during the launch window.

It was a fun game but more than anything seeing this now takes me back to the PS2 launch where a lucky few were rewarded with a console. The amount of checks, deposits and forms you had to go through to finally confirm you’d been successful and a console was allocated to you. This was the era of DVD and sheer power. Unfortunately the funniest aspect for me was that after a few days my console suffered a power unit fault and Sony had to courier me a replacement. Thankfully they had one otherwise I would have gone to back of the queue!


This game was recommended to me by a local store manager who knows his games. Not another off-the-road racer I thought – what a tired genre that is, to Smugglers credit they’ve tried to add mission’s ala GTA but although the difficulty level cranks up later in the game, it’s just a case of going from A to B to C to D etc etc.

The real word to describe this game is “fun” because it certainly is, handling is more arcade and flying over the wonderful terrain is a joy but watch out as damage affects your vehicle. Your opponents either another player, the fuzz or rival gangs will try to stop you and this results in a Dukes of Hazard feel with a touch of John Woo for amazing stunts. The graphics are excellent and the sheer size of the levels created the need for an option where you can just drive. The box claims each is 15 square miles and it does seem so with minimal pop-up to boot. I do feel that this game was rushed out for launch day. More options and better presentation would have added to what is an enjoyable game but which had the basis to be great. Still it gives an indication of the PS2 power and its fun in short blasts. Gimmie some sugar baby.

Gamestyle Score: 6/10

Radiant Silvergun

Gamestyle Score intro: a game so great I actually mentioned it in my wedding speech in 2004. A marvellous experience that arrived on the Sega Saturn in 1998 and received an overdue revamp for Xbox Live in 2011. To this day stunning. Dating this review is difficult however I’d expect it to be from around 2000.

Writer: JJ

Published 2000


Radiant Silvergun – no doubt you’ve heard of it, a couple may have seen it and perhaps a lucky few may have even played it. One of the unwritten rules of gaming is that often towards the end of a consoles’ life, some of the best games will appear and many of these won’t be released outside of their native country – for instance Treasure’s latest title (Sin & Punishment N64) won’t be seen outside of Japan.

This happens to every console and no doubt more examples will be seen on the N64 & Dreamcast in the coming months. Radiant Silvergun is by Japanese developer Treasure who since their formation in 1989 have created a reputation amongst developers and gamers for their originality and gameplay. Radiant was released in 1999 to excellent reviews world-wide however due to the flat-line status of the Saturn abroad it was considered commercially unviable to release the game in the West. Since then it has gained a cult reputation as being one of the best shooters (if not games) ever made and a title that made the Saturn sing like no other. For a shoot ’em up Radiant has a decent plot driven by anime sections and radio communication between the main characters. The story is set in the future where scientists have discovered a diamond shaped object and attempt to open it on earth. Upon opening the object a massive destructive power is unleashed, destroying the planet. Not all is lost however, above the planet, residing in orbit are a group of pilots who after discussion decide to travel back in time and prevent the disaster from happening. Treasure tends to do things their own way and for Radiant they introduced a whole range of weaponry, enemies to fight and secrets to discover.

As with all of their games Radiant is difficult at first, perhaps even sheer impossible without the use of continues however you soon realise the ingenious game design. You have a selection of seven unique weapons which you can fire using various combinations on the pad, each has their own specific purpose. Through experience and playing the game six of the weapons levels can be increased, eventually making the earlier levels fairly easy with your increased strength. For the spectacular bosses you will require all the fire power that you gained and even then its still challenging. Your seventh weapon is the Hyper Sword that can be used once you have collected enough power balls. This is the most devastating attack in your arsenal – it hits everything on the screen, causing immense damage and proves very useful when the screen is full. Not only is the gameplay exceptional but the actual visuals are stunning (both 2&3D), proving that the Saturn was perhaps the ultimate 2D console.

The game moves at a constant rate with hints of slow down during the clashes with end of level bosses. The collision detection can also be suspect at times but this is more of a bonus. Some of the effects in the game will have you looking down to check which console you are using. I have played most shooters available on the Dreamcast and Psone but few come close to the standard set by Radiant. The soundtrack is truly one of the best that I have heard and in the options you can sit back and enjoy the tracks or you could have downloaded them from Napster. Yet despite all my praise I would think that many of you will still be thinking its just another shoot ’em up? It certainly is, however Treasure have taken the original genre and injected much needed dose of class A drugs. This is gameplay at its finest.

Not only does the game support two players, it also has a different route if you perform badly on the earlier levels and you can collect dogs! In the options you will notice your kennel which contains the number of dogs that you have discovered and they’ll be there barking at you. By collecting these four-legged friends you open up hidden extras making the game last longer than most. To collar one you need to use the radar attack, which is the only one capable of finding and hitting dogs. They are hidden in certain locations on levels, which may increase your chances of destruction but its well worth it. You will also notice that your enemies are divided into different colours and by only hitting the same colour you will build up your chain bonus but it isn’t easy! The game is built for replay value. Be warned that you and your friends will become easily lost in Radiant Silvergun and without realising it waste at least three hours. I’m very critical of everything in general but this is the game I go back to the most – even though it caused the destruction of my last Saturn through overheating!

Gamestyle Score: 10/10

FIFA 2001

Gamestyle Archive intro: now here we have the stuff of legends, a review from Dean Swain. For many years the public said such a thing didn’t exist and my hazy memory recalled a couple at least and countless times when I tried to tease him to write a couple. So the Archive is pleased to welcome this short and sweet, say it as it is review from the Gamestyle conductor.

Writer: DS

Published: November 2000


Right before I start this I had better let you all know that I am crap at Football games, always have been & always will be. Ever since the days of Match Day II on the Spectrum I’ve been beaten by the likes of Angel Maker and Evil Doctor, through the years I’ve been teased while playing Sensible Soccer, laughed at while playing Sega World Wide Soccer and even booed off the pitch when playing ISS Pro.

So you can imagine my surprise when I beat Manchester United Und 7-1 on my first game, yes folks FIFA 2001 is easy to play – maybe too easy, like most PS2 games the default controls are set up to use the analog stick, this works really well (well for me anyway) and just for a change the graphics move very smoothly (can you remember the way FIFA on the PSone jerked around looking like card board cut outs?) and the gameplay is much better than ever before but there are two major things that pull FIFA down.

First up are the goalies – remember the zombies from House of the Dead? Well EA must have hired them from Sega because these guys act like the walking dead, standing there like brain dead donkey pigs. The other thing that drags FIFA down is a little game on the Psone called ISS Pro Evolution, a game that is a legend on the console scene for it’s game play and sheer realism of Football, so why is it that EA with all the power of the PS2 can’t beat a two year old 32 bit game?

Well as usual, E.A seem to have focused more on the official licences and names of the players than the actual game – FIFA is a bit like that stunning bird who lives down your street, all looks but no brains – good for a quick bunk up but not the sort of thing that you would take home to your Mum – Whilst ISS is more like that older bird you see at the bus stop every morning – a bit plain looking but you know she could teach you a thing or two. Although this time EA are closer to ISS than ever before and the action of the game is there, it just seems too easy to score, and that will just become boring after a while. Still… There’s always next year!

Gamestyle Score: 7/10

WWF Wrestle Mania



Gamestyle Archive intro: a real short oddity this which comes from an early form of the Gamestyle retro section. Short and sweet, the review makes its point before leaving by the side-door. Written by Graham Hanks this might be an example of a team member who only stayed around for a couple of reviews before moving on. We did have a few of those however we have the reviews to remember them by.

Writer: GH

Published: unclear other than this is a very early review so 2000.


Choose your favourite wrestler from yesteryear and see them fight it out in the ring, or out if you prefer on the first wrestling game on the SNES. This game started of the trend that all wrestling games had to be a button bashing affair and long periods of play could only end in blisters.

The game uses a system of for buttons, one for run, punch, kick and grapple. When you grapple you have a choice of four different moves to do in that position. If there is one word that describes this game well it is limited. The moves are limited (why have separate buttons for punch and kick when they do exactly the same thing.) The game options are limited, you can only fight either one on one, tag, or survival (four on four.) Combine this with the lack of moves and you have a very short lasting game.

Chances are after half an hour from switching it on you will be thinking ‘is this it’ and then realise it is and switch it off. It could have been better if the characters controlled any different to each other but unfortunately they all handle exactly the same with no differences whatsoever which is unforgivable really. The graphics are dire and the characters are poorly animated, there is no skill to winning the game other than being able to tap a button fast, the sound is dire and the effects are poor.

So basically there is nothing to recommend this game to anyone, instead buy the sequel Royal Rumble which added more variety, signature moves for the characters and a ton more lastability. Steer well clear unless you are a masochist.

Score 3/10

Dynasty Warriors 2

Gamestyle Archive intro: so far when piecing together this archive we’ve noticed that reviews prior to 2001 are extremely rare. So we’re pleased to be able to bring you this PlayStation 2 review of Dynasty Warriors 2 which dates from around November 2000. It also marks the debut piece in the archive from Dan Kelly who was a mainstay of the Gamestyle team during the early days.

Writer: DK

Published: November 2000


You courageously rampage up a hill, tightly clutching your weapon in your hand. Your heart is racing as the adrenaline pumps through your body. But suddenly you are ground to a halt as the enemy appears through the dense fog in large numbers. But fortunately for you this isn’t a situation that a good button mashing won’t get you out of. Welcome to Dynasty Warriors 2.

China, 2nd century AD, is stricken with war as the Han Dynasty comes to an end, and the two leaders of the Yellow Turban Rebellion, He Jin and Dong Zhuo, seize this opportunity to take control of China. But their rule is short-lived as the land is torn apart by warlords, each one battling to gain supreme power over the dynasty. But amidst all this chaos, three men stand above the rest. Cao Cao of the Wei kingdom, Sun Qian of the Wu kingdom, and Liu Bei of the Shu kingdom. These 3 men, along with their fearless generals will battle each other, all desperately seeking control over the whole of the land.

This period of war in China would later be known as the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It is your task to help one of these warlords achieve his dream. There are two modes of play in Dynasty Warriors 2, Free mode and Musou mode. Free mode allows you to replay previously unlocked levels from Musou mode. But Musou mode is where you will inevitably be spending most of your time. You select one warrior from an initial selection of nine, three from each of the kingdoms, to battle through 5 massive stages to fulfil your warlord’s ambition for ultimate control over China, and to also develop your character. Development of your character is needed if you want your journey through the slightly harder later levels to be easier, and is essential if you want to stand a chance against the practically invincible Lu Bu. Character development is attained through disposing of the various enemy generals scattered throughout the battlefield, who leave swords and shields which increase your stats, upon their demise. Successful completion of all 5 stages unlocks a new general from your chosen kingdom, and with over 20 playable characters, your gonna be around a long time if you plan to unlock them all. But will you want to?

Gameplay wise, it’s mainly a case of hammering the buttons to perform jump attacks and various combos. The controls are easy to get a grasp of, and you’ll be whupping enemies by the hundred in no time. One button for weak attack, one for strong attack, another for jumping and mounting horses, and the final button for unleashing the Musou attack. The Musou attack is a special move, which clears everyone around you, but this needs to be built up before it can be used, by filling up the Musou charge bar, mucho fun. But the soundtrack, oh god. You can just imagine KOEI telling some ponce from an 80’s rock band that he could do the soundtrack, but they only allowed him to use the bottom two strings of his guitar. Beware it will cause your ears to bleed. Morale also plays a large role in the course of the battle. If an enemy general is slain there is a sudden boost in your forces morale. But a loss of an ally general causes the opposite effect. A high morale causes your men to storm around the battlefield destroying anything in their path. Low morale causes them to just stand around doing nothing, or even cause them to run away. But after killing a few hundred of the enemy, using the same limited number of combos and attacks, the game becomes somewhat tedious.

Also, seeing as most levels last over an hour, you’ll often find yourself in need of a friend to slap you across the face as your vision begins to double and your head starts flopping all over the place. There’s often an insane amount of people on screen at any one time, and there isn’t even the slightest hint of slow-down, which is one of the lovely things about this game. But it has some of the worst fogging you will ever see to achieve this, and boy is it ugly. You will often find yourself surrounded all of a sudden, because you couldn’t see beyond the fog, and that’s when you’ll realise how alone, and dead you are. Scenery and obstacles will obscure your view at times, and this can get annoying because you won’t be able to make out what is happening. You’ll end up getting the pasting of your life because of a few irritating niggles within the game.

There are some lovely cut-scenes and FMV sequences, but it appears that this was the main focus of attention when they developed the game, when they should’ve concentrated more on the gameplay. But any game where you kill 800 people and think you had a mediocre battle can’t be that bad. It is enjoyable at times, and it would be pleasing to the eye if you could only ignore the fogging. It was an idea that had massive potential, but unfortunately wasn’t fully realised.

Gamestyle Score 5/10

Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore

Gamestyle Auction intro: in theory this is the oldest review we’ve posted into the archive so far. With DOA2 Hardcore arriving at the end of 2000, Mike Bather reviewed the title shortly after its debut or January 2001. A core member of the early Gamestyle team, it is great to be reviving this review and hopefully we’ll have more of his work in due course.

Writer: MB

Format: PlayStation 2

Published: December 2000

Developer: Team Ninja


The ladies with the hugely inflated breasts are back for the ‘Hardcore’ PS2 version with a few extra levels for the Tag mode, two new playable characters, many more costumes but unfortunately no nudity.  As with the previous outing on the Dreamcast the action is fast, violent and stylish but troubled by a lack of any real apparent depth compared with other beat ‘em ups such as the Tekken series.

Kicking off with a nice intro that is comprised solely of cut scene footage and in game action you are introduced to the characters, mostly from the original game and it looks nothing short of fantastic.  The modes of play are a pretty standard affair and include Story, Vs, Team, Time Attack, Tag Battle and Survival, my own personal favourite being the survival mode, unfortunately set in the bland but functional Danger Zone arena.  In addition to the standard modes taken from the DC version there are two new additions called Battle Record and Watch.  Battle Record allows you to choose two characters, record the scrap that follows and then play it back, altering camera angles.  I’ll leave it up to your imagination as to why Team Ninja actually incorporated this feature, but I expect it is to do with the fascination with anime females in Japan…The Watch mode basically does what it says on the tin and is of fair use to see moves or combo’s you have yet to see.

Regarding the Story mode I still have yet to grasp what the heck is going on and do not feel that it is really needed.  Fights kick off with a cut scene depicting the two opponents growling at each other but then roll straight into the actual gameplay itself, really impressive stuff.  All the characters, apart from Tengu and Bayman, are playable in the story mode and completion of this, accompanied by the collection of items in Survival mode, unlocks the characters costumes.  Any fan of the original DOA may be a little disappointed here as there just isn’t as many costumes to be unlocked.  It’s also a little unfortunate that some of the additional costumes are stinky, to say the least.

The way the stages are set out with multiple levels is a true step forward for the Beat ‘em up genre that has gradually been getting rather stale since the release of Soul Calibur.  The amount of joy you get from counter attacking your opponent and then belting them off the top of a waterfall, through a stained glass window or over the edge of a glacier to the level below is exceptional.  The effects that accompany such actions guarantee a grin of pleasure if you’re playing alone or a mocking comment coupled with a sly grin if you’re beating down one of your friends.  I can guarantee that you will sweat on Vs once two players have mastered all the counters and many of the available combo’s.

The Tag mode is a lot better executed than TTT’s as well.  Instead of the lazy tacked-on feel of the Tag mode in Tekken where the characters just step in and out of the action, DOA2’s characters leap in from the boundaries, throwing in a quick somersault here and there to boot.  The Tag moves are simple to execute and depending on the compatibility between the two characters chosen deal various amounts of damage.  They also look damn good too, with some ridiculously over the top moves.  Unfortunately, without a multitap and even four friends in the near vicinity to play with I have yet to experience the full four-player action…

Apart from the excellent graphics, lighting effects and super smooth action this game has a real hidden beauty. Not appearing in the well endowed female characters showing their underwear, the multilevel arenas or the extended array of counter attacks but appearing in the pure simplicity of play that goes nowhere near the complexity of Tekken with its ‘button for each limb’ set up.  Dead or Alive 2 works with three buttons set to punch, kick, ‘free’ and grab (free + punch) and is a million miles away from the daunting task that is Tekken.  The ‘free’ button in conjunction with a low, high or middle directional tap executes the counters and the left analog stick enables you to quickly move around the opponent.

Grabs and combo grabs are dealt with by assigning two buttons to one and as you progress in the game and check out the sparring mode you soon find that there IS a hidden depth and that there are a fair few moves that can only be done by pressing three buttons at once, but they can all be assigned to one button, for example L2.  Once set up this does open up more opportunity to expand your game and it is possible to string together the odd ten hit combo with certain characters, but I have yet to see whether or not you can do it with all of them.

Sonically DOA2:HC remains much the same as the DC version.  Unfortunately it is not my personal choice, to say the least, yet it remains suited to the in-game action.  Sound effects are great though and a point I should mention is the game doesn’t translate to English at all with pre-fight verbal battles sounding ludicrous.  Do yourself a favour and use the nicely retained Japanese speech

So there you have it, a highly recommended and playable game with some excellent new features such as the multiple level arenas to revive the Beat ‘em up genre.

Presentation: 7/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 7/10
GamePlay: 9/10
Lastability: 8/10
Overall: 9/10