"With their fifth release last year, Tecmo finally proved that beyond the thick layers of eroticism hid a beautifully complex fighter with a ton of depth and diversity."
If you were unfortunate enough to miss the superb Dead or Alive 5 back in 2012, this may be a good time to take notice. Tecmo didn’t simply add a few gimmicks and slap on Ultimate to the title, they added enough substantial new content to make this the definitive DOA experience to date. From the newly added Team Fight mode and brand new characters to the absurd amount of costumes (how does 231 sound?), DOA5U bursts with collectibles and refined gameplay mechanics.
When Dead or Alive made its debut in 1996, it captivated fighting fans with a newly introduced countering system and unique environmental Danger Zones. Ironically, the series became infamous for its jiggle factor and scantily clad female fighters, rather than its excellent gameplay. DOA’s innovative fighting mechanics carried from one sequel to the next, but continually crawled behind genre veterans like Street Fighter and Tekken. With their fifth release last year, Tecmo finally proved that beyond the thick layers of eroticism hid a beautifully complex fighter with a ton of depth and diversity. If you loved DOA5, the Ultimate version may provide just enough new content to satisfy your cravings until an official sequel is announced…and for everyone else, well this is an absolute must have!
"From tropical jungle forests to urban cityscapes and circus arenas, each area provides a distinctive aesthetic and the backdrops come to life during battles."
From the moment you reach the character selection screen, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate will blow you away with its visuals. It’s been only a year since I’ve played the original DOA5 and I’m still completely enamored by the game’s looks. The fighters look remarkably realistic while still maintaining the traditional DOA aesthetic. They sweat and get dirty as the environments collapse around them, and everything moves at a smooth framerate.
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. The new stages include various fan favorites (the beach, desert, and more) in addition to some pleasant surprise, like the Sky City Tokyo from the Ninja Gaiden series. Of course, 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.
"The new fighters are nicely varied although it’s a shame that they’re not included in the single player story mode."
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate 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. But the newly added Team Fight mode is a truly welcoming addition. You can form a team of seven characters to play with your friends and rivals. This brings substantial diversity to online battles and provides a nice opportunity for exciting tournament fights.
Five new characters have been added to the roster with returning cast members Leon and Ein. The brand new entrants include Momiji and Rachel (first introduced in Ninja Gaiden), and Sarah Bryant’s brother Jacky. The new fighters are nicely varied although it’s a shame that they’re not included in the single player story mode.
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 Ultimate is a solid recommendation for hardcore fighting fans and casual players alike.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Playstation 3