Developer(s): Team NINJA
Publisher(s): Tecmo Koei America Corp.
Platforms(s): PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: September 25, 2012
When Dead or Alive made its debut in 1996, it captivated fighting fans with a newly introduced countering system and unique environmental “Danger Zones.” As the series grew, so did the breasts of the female fighters and it became synonymous with the jiggle factor rather than the innovation it brought to the genre. The franchise carried its prestigious fighting mechanics from one sequel to the next, but it was always inches behind fighting veterans like Street Fighter and Tekken. With its fifth installment, the series proves once again that beyond the thick layers of eroticism lies a beautifully complex fighter with a ton of depth and diversity.
- Best looking fighting game ever
- Deep fighting mechanics that are flawlessly responsive and fun
- Dynamic Backgrounds ad great cinematic flair to combat
- Story mode is disappointing
- Lag and stutter during online play
- Small character selection compared to other fighting games
From the moment you reach the character selection screen, Dead or Alive 5 will blow you away with its visuals. DOA5 is breathtaking and quite possibly the best looking fighting game to date. The series has always boasted incredibly rendered models and the developers have outdone themselves once again. The poly-count boost makes each character look remarkably realistic while still maintaining the traditional DOA art style. The fighters sweat and get dirty as the environments collapse around them, and everything moves at a smooth framerate (offline at least).
Unfortunately, the return of unrealistic, jelly-like breasts is as distasteful as ever. In this case, the developers aren’t exclusively the ones to blame. It was the overwhelming feedback of prepubescent, tasteless fans that begged for a larger cup size and indivertibly crammed the series back into its shameful corner. It’s obvious that the ladies are the heroes in DOA and the developers have done a remarkable job of creating attractive, badass femme-fatales, but it’s a shame that sexiness has to be so bluntly interpreted by boulder sized chests.
But beyond the disreputable portrayal of women is a truly magnificent display of graphical eminence. The dynamic stages are designed with great detail and diversity. From tropical jungle forests to urban cityscapes and circus arenas, each area provides a distinctive aesthetic and the backdrops come to life during battles. A rooftop will suddenly crumble to pieces as the fighters brawl through the falling debris. Other times you find yourself fighting in the midst of a war torn street as the buildings are bombarded and an attacking tank interrupts your combos. It’s quite a spectacle. Danger Zones are back and you can interactively trigger crazy special moves with power blows. Glaciers collapse, cars crash, things blow up all around you… it’s dazzling. If this is too much and you just want to focus on the fighting, you can turn the Danger Zones off - but you’d be missing out on all the fun.
All the eye candy would be useless if the fighting didn’t excel. Fortunately, Dead or Alive 5 makes all the right technical tweaks to make the combat the best in the series so far. The simplicity of counters made the fighting too easy in past installments, allowing button-mashing newcomers to take down expert players without effort. The absurd damage these counters dealt made each fight unbalanced and oftentimes unfair. Dead or Alive 5 has tightened up its counter-attack mechanic for a significantly more challenging, but rewarding, experience. Each fighter has the ability to perform counters at varying heights, allowing you to punish any incoming strike - once you master the timing of different attacks. Countering strikes with the right holds plays a more strategic role in combat, and they’re no more the easy way out command.
Another new addition is the ability to sidestep, or more like walk in space. This allows for evasive maneuvers and is particularly useful when you’re forced into a tight corner. The level of mastery that’s required to perfect your fighting skills is commendable. While the game is still easy to pick up and play, veteran gamers are offered a more diverse way to challenge each other.
Dead or Alive 5 can be played solo or with a tag partner. The latter is a nice alternative to Tekken Tag Tournament and offers some very classy special moves that you can mix into your combos. I still prefer the diversity of tag moves in Tekken, but DOA does a fine job of providing a similar mechanic for team fighting.
Dead or Alive 5 offers a Story mode, but it’s nothing more than a drawn out, boring, poorly voiced, training tutorial. As much as I appreciate the return of DOA’s favorite cast, I’d rather experience small narrative segments of each character individually than go through this jumbled-together mess that ties all the fighters together. It’s absurd, especially considering the inclusion of a Training Mode that’s surprisingly helpful. Here, you can hone your skills and keep track of every single detail of your performance, a true blessing for hardcore gamers. Then we have the Arcade, Time Attack and Survival modes where you’ll be unlocking the varied outfits for each character. It’s nice to see that so much care went into each costume and you’re not just getting lame color variations of the same uniform…ehm…Street Fighter…ehm.
The online experience is a mixed bag. From customizable lobbies and filterable leaderboards to player ranked matches, there’s certainly enough to keep you busy for a while. But terrible lag and stutter interrupt battles, sometimes freezing up for an entire second or two. Getting in and out of matches is a chore, but I’m sure that these issues will be ironed out with future patches.
Team Ninja should be praised for raising the franchise’s standards to such a respectable degree. What used to be an arcade heavy couch-brawler has matured into a complex fighter with enough depth and complexity to compete with the best titles in the genre. While it still needs to take more risks with its fighting engine and less with the bounce physics, Dead or Alive 5 is a solid recommendation for hardcore fighting fans and casual players alike.
|Final Score||“DOA Makes a Fantastic Comeback”||8.0|
This is the most visually impressive fighting game to date. If you can look past the ridiculously oversized breasts of the female characters, you'll find an immaculately detailed fighter that will make your jaw dropp. Stunning!
The Dead or Alive series has finally received its long awaited fighting-engine overhaul. Unlike its predecessors, DOA5 is deeper, more complex, and tougher to master than ever.
There are plenty of unlockables, but the conservative character selection and buggy online mode leave a lot to be desired.
Atrocious voice acting and an even worse soundtrack. The music is too inconsistent and as generic as it can be, and while you can switch the audio to Japanese voice acting, it's still headache inducing.
Review by Tin Salamunic