If you find Kung Fu fighting a “little bit frightening”, then best get ready to hide behind the sofa when you fire up your X-Box and insert the Deadly Alliance disc. It’s seriously gory with an 18 certificate to prove it. As you hack, slash, punch and splinter your way through multiple opponents, the fighting ring begins to look like an abattoir crossed with an operating theatre, such are the pools of blood shed.
Of course, it doesn’t look very real as there’s a cartoon style to the whole over-the-top gore shebang – but even so, you’ll squirm slightly the first time your fighter sticks his sword fully into an opponent’s stomach and leaves it embedded there, blood spurting from the wound! And let’s not even go into the special finishing moves, which include ripping multiple organs out…
Aside from the bloodlust, Deadly Alliance’s big feature is of course the weaponry you can wield. It’s not all hand to hand fighting as with Dead or Alive. In fact, each fighter has three styles of combat (sorry, kombat) to pick from, two unarmed martial arts and one weapon style.
All consist of totally different moves, combos and specials, though the weapons are the most fun. They also do the most damage, with the payoff that you’re more vulnerable to damage yourself when wielding one (as you become more aggressive, you also leave yourself more open).
There are four main modes of play. ‘Arcade’ is your standard one player game in which you must advance through a series of opponents, saving the world in a typical Mortal Kombat storyline. ‘Versus’ mode allows two players to duke it out, whilst ‘Practice’ is exactly that. Finally, “Konquest” mode sets the player a series of several hundred challenges, many of which serve as tutorials for fighting tactics and controls, and some of which are character specific missions.
On top of that lot, which is plenty to keep you busy, the game actually rewards you with ‘koins’ for any achievement, such as winning a fight. These can be spent in the krypt (koincidentally) to buy koffins, of which there are 700, each containing some sort of extra goody (like a new character costume, a video clip or a piece of artwork). This is an excellent idea, as are the mini-games which pop up occasionally during play that, for example, challenge you to test your might and break a piece of wood in two with a quick karate chop (by hammering a button as fast as you can).
Deadly Alliance’s control system is also impressive. It’s simple, with four basic attacks, high and low punches and kicks, and of course weapon thrusts. Defensively speaking there’s a block key, though you can also side-step or jump away from attacks, with some clever counter-attacking special moves thrown in.
The fights are nicely paced too; not overly fast, but the action certainly isn’t sluggish. Visually, Deadly Alliance makes a good case for itself as well. Although it isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as Dead or Alive 3, it’s a good enough looker and the characters are very well animated and fluid.