|Title: Dead or Alive 5
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Developer: Team Ninja
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Release Date: September 25, 2012
ESRB Rating: M
For many years, the Dead or Alive series has earned the reputation of being all glitz and having no real fighting spirit. But with Dead or Alive 5, Team Ninja has crafted a visually attractive fighter that will actually meet the standards of many core fans of the fighting genre while still pleasing those that came to mash buttons while looking at pretty polygons.
For newcomers and fans alike, the first component to tackle will be story mode. While Dead or Alive isn’t known for having the best storytelling, the story being told here is certainly entertaining, if a bit convoluted at times. Then again, that is part of the charm of the series. The campaign mode also serves as an excellent tutorial for newcomers to the series and as a good refresher course for those that haven’t played a DOA game since the last numbered entry released seven years ago.
Part of the appeal of Dead or Alive is the ability for casual gamers to have a fighting chance while simply mashing buttons, yet underneath is a deep and satisfying combo system. The triangle system makes its return here, bringing back more of the series’ signature rock-paper-scissors style of strikes, throws, and holds. Pulling off a perfectly timed counter attack is extremely satisfying and enhanced further by the spectacular cinematic scenes accompanying them.
The real replay value here is in multiplayer mode, and DOA5 dishes out multiplayer goodness in heaping servings. Both online and offline multiplayer are much more refined than in previous entries, offering a robust set of options for creating your ideal matches with friends and strangers.
When it comes to the games visuals, Dead or Alive 5 is pure eye-candy. This is by far the prettiest entry in the history of the franchise, and arguably the best looking fighter on current gen consoles. The character design is ever-so-slightly more realistic, but still retains the highly exaggerated tone that made the game so famous in the first place. The females are as bouncy as ever, but this is somehow fitting as they are equally as extravagant and over-the-top as the males. Your character will sweat as the match progresses, getting covered in glistening grime as they roll around the game’s destructive environments. The character roster includes all of the series mainstays (most unlocked from the start) and three playable Virtua Fighter characters, and they all fit in nicely with the series, including the new character Mila.
The stages are all packed to the brim with objects in the foreground and background, and it really contributes to a feeling of a living, breathing world. Many of the stages have objects that can be destroyed by slamming your opponent into them, leading to hilariously entertaining mid-fight cutscenes, including gigantic, cinematic explosions and causing massive damage to your opponent.
Everything about Dead or Alive 5 is slick, from the menus to the full-featured online modes to the training mode. Speaking of which, training mode has been injected with dozens of new pieces of information which would prove invaluable to fans of the fighting game genre.
For the first time in the history of the franchise, Dead or Alive transcends its typical focus on the female form to become a serious contender in the fighting genre. Dead or Alive 5 is the best looking and most robust entry in the series to date, and will appeal to both longtime fans of the series and newcomers. The mechanics have been finely tuned so that even serious fighting fans can now approach Dead or Alive with confidence, but the game still retains much of the over-the-top charm that the series has been known for from the start. The game has something for everyone and is worth experiencing for both casuals and core fighting fans.
Editor’s Note: This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.