The gameplay of Dead or Alive 2, and all subsequent DOA fighting games, borrows heavily from the Virtua Fighter series, but makes some key changes that drastically changes the way Dead or Alive is played in comparison to Virtua Fighter.
In DOA2, the basis of the entire fighting system is the circular relationship between three types of moves: blows, throws, and holds. The other defining feature of the game, aside from blows/throws/holds, is its stun system. Many attacks can inflict a stun on the opponent; those stunned cannot attack or guard, however they can hold. If the attacker lands a non-knockdown, non-launching attack while the opponent is stunned, the opponent will be re-stunned in a new way, depending on what attack was landed.
A major difference between DOA2 and other fighters was in the safety and non-punishability of attacks, both upon hitting and upon being blocked. Most blows in DOA2 can be punished on hit and block by each character's faster throws, making blow-based offense very risky. In addition to the normal rules of juggling, each character also fits into a specific weight category, which affects how the character responds to being launched and being juggled.
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