In the latest – and apparently last – round of backwards compatible titles, Microsoft made the whole Dead or Alive franchise compatible with Xbox One consoles. This means the Dead or Alive 1, 2 and 3 which were on the OG Xbox have been enabled and play at full 4K while Dead or Alive 4 from the Xbox 360 plays at its original 720p resolution.
However, I was to focus this post especially on Dead or Alive 3, which was a launch title on the OG Xbox and Dead or Alive 2 which was remastered 3 years later in 2004 as part of the Dead or Alive Ultimate package for the OG Xbox as well. This was the same year as Ninja Gaiden so Team Ninja were certainly busy that year!
Both DOA 2 and 3 running at 4K resolution are simply stunning. Especially since both titles were released with anti-aliasing on the OG Xbox which has been retained. There’s almost no jaggies in sight.
You can really appreciate the excellent texture work and extensive bump mapping and pixel shading going on. It’s hard to believe that this is an OG Xbox game as it looks better than most PS3 games looked.
The original Xbox hardware was very much ahead of it’s time. The first console to enable both bump-mapping and extensive use of pixel shading enabled developers to craft very realistic-looking models and surfaces without having to throw masses of polygons or massive textures at the problem. What’s more, these technologies scale – especially pixel shading – as it’s a programmatic way of creating surfaces which means more powerful hardware can push more pixels that make these effects much more precise and beautiful.
It’s also a testament to Team Ninja under Mr Itagaki just how well the graphics hold up but especially cramming such great-looking textures into the OG Xbox’s limited 64MB memory. This just shows that great texture work is not a function of the available memory but an interplay of great engineering and wonderful iterative artistry. There are games that had much more memory available on Xbox 360 for example that didn’t achieve as attractive texture work.
It’s a joy to play these games after all this time. My favourite is still DOA 3 as it’s a lot easier to pick up and counter moves than with DOA 2.
However the graphics were turned up to 11 on DOA 2 as Team Ninja had 3 more years to get to grips with the hardware and both the engine and the DirectX API were improved over the previous iteration launching with DOA 3. While this may be subtle, especially to the casual observer, but there are more pixel shader effects and many more particle effects being thrown around on the stages showcasing exactly how far the OG Xbox could be pushed!
The only let-down is the slightly lower polygon counts and lower-quality textures on the fighters due to the expanded stages requiring more horse-power and memory.
I really hope DOA 4 can be made Xbox One X enhanced so we can enjoy that game in 4K as well. As it stands, it is a massive jaggie-fest on a modern 4K display.
All images in this post were captured on Xbox Series X running at 4K. Xbox Series X may add additional texture filtering for a sharper image on top of what the base consoles are doing.