Dead or Alive 5 Review
Between the starred portion is just an overview of my thoughts from the past iterations of the Dead or Alive series. So, if you want to get to the nitty gritty I understand. Just skip that portion and get to the important stuff.
When Dead or Alive first released on PlayStation in 1998, I’ve never thought I‘d appreciate physics as much as I did back then. The series was brought in with some competition during which Namco’s Soul Edge and Tekken 3, Capcom’s Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of the Superheroes, and SNK’s King of Fighters series all garnered praise in their own rite. Looking past the bouncing mammaries, Dead or Alive gave something with its gameplay that was different from others. For me, the counter system was the one thing that amazed me. It was like the equivalent to a combo-breaker in Killer Instinct, but with risks. You can match up your counter with the correct strike, or leave yourself open to more abuse.
Next with Dead or Alive 2, a definite improvement in graphics which just looked gorgeous. The animation was smooth and everything just looked majestic. If Dead or Alive hadn’t garnered much attention when it first came out, the second iteration probably triggered the main following.
The following iterations of the series did little to nothing in terms of adding new features or improvements to the series. Each iteration just added more to the storyline and more new faces, and a tag feature in the 4th iteration of the series. It was after Dead or Alive 4 came out, and just before Ninja Gaiden 2 was released, that Tomonobu Itagaki left Team Ninja. He was the main driving force for the DoA series so all hope seemed to be lost with the franchise. Luckily, Team Ninja decided to move on without him and release Dead or Alive: Dimensions for the Nintendo 3DS, which focused on putting the story of DoA in perspective… in 3D. Yet, the models remained the same, new costumes were given and a throwdown option was implemented to let you fight against other people’s personal/favorite character’s AI. It was all good fun, but it needed some change…
Finally, Dead or Alive 5. I purchased the collector’s edition; a tin box which includes an artbook, CD, poster, code for swimsuits, and the game. After inputting in my codes, I started up the game. On the start menu you have the option for “Casual” or “Pro” settings, which pretty much adjusts the camera and effects that occurs during gameplay. So “Pro” settings would be a standard camera position and less effects for players that just want to focus on their opponent. I’m definitely a casual player, and I enjoy cinematic camera angles and flashy effects…so bring it. Casual.
So with the different modes, you can select are the following:
Story: This mode actually takes from the similar qualities of Dead or Alive: Dimensions, in which you get a linear story-line instead of multiple endings. The story-line focuses on one character for a certain amount of chapters and moves on to the next. What’s good about the Story Mode battles is that each battle has a “bonus mission” in which you can receive titles for completing. The mission objectives are briefly explained and gives tips on how to complete each one. So for example, one of the bonus missions is to use the newly implemented “power blow” and needs to be done twice. So instead of going through the manual and figuring the new stuff, they whiff that information in front of your face for a bit, and it’s up to you if you want to bite. More on the power blows later.
Fight: You have the classic Versus, Arcade, Time Attack, Survival and Training modes. Each of which you can chose solo or tag play.
Online: Simple matches are just that, a 1-on-1 match with another person online.
Rank matches is another 1-on-1 match, but this time the outcome of the battle will affect your Grade.
In Lobby matches you can create rooms or join rooms and battle it out with certain rules set. Lobby matches would be the most preferred because you can see the potential opponent’s connection strength.
Leaderboards displays names of the best players to date. You definitely will not see my name on there.
Fighter List, you can save fighters you’ve met in this list so you can send them throwdowns or fight their character’s AI. Throwdown basically puts you versus someone’s selected character with data on their fighting style. So, people can fight your characters AI or vice versa.
Extras: Spectator mode, pretty much com vs. com giving you the option of taking photos during the match. Because sometimes the pause button just isn’t enough.
Fight Viewer plays any saved replays from previous fights.
Options: You’ve got the basics like Game settings, controls, screen, sound and language.
Online settings can set which character you want to be associated with for throwdowns.
You also have the option to install game data in your PS3 to get a more optimal gameplay.
New characters introduced are Mila and Rig. Rig’s Taekwondo moves are a bit sluggish for my tastes, but Mila’s MMA style fit a lot better for my semi-button mashing tendencies. She has some quick strikes and also a ground grapple that can be executed as soon as your opponent hits the floor. She’s definitely my favorite during online battles and completing extra mission titles.
Also added to the character list are Virtua Fighter’s Sarah Bryant, Pai Chan, and Akira. Both are implemented to the DoA world pretty well. In an interview before the release, representatives said the inclusion of the Virtua Fighter characters is a salute to their appreciation for the series. A good amount of similarities from both series are from the fact that VF was Team Ninja’s inspiration during DoA’s development.
Now for a more technical look at the game and what it has to offer.
In recent releases, some fighting games introduced a linear story telling to their campaign modes. For example, Mortal Kombat had a great story mode that went through different characters involvement leading to a gradual climax and ending to tell the whole story. Each character got their limelight for a couple fights and did not just seem in the background. A bad example of the linear storytelling would be Soul Calibur 5’s focus on the two siblings. The other characters were either heavily involved or had small cameos during the storytelling.
Dead or Alive 5’s tells the overall story in a timeline fashion, focusing on one character at a time. As you progress through the story, you are brought to an actual timeline with each character, and then compare it with the character chapters you’ve already finished. So, if you see two points line-up, you know that the particular events were in parallel with each other. Unfortunately, a few of the characters did not get their own playable chapters, like the Virtua Fighter characters. Yet, some of those excluded were heavily represented throughout the story.
To add to the critique, some of the battle encounters that ensues are off the wall. Back in DoA4, I recall two characters starting a fight over a cabbage. This same mentality of starting fights carries over, which makes for a hilarious “what the hell” moment, but that’s what DoA has been known to do for it’s past iterations. Although I’m quite fond of the past DoA games with endings for each character, I’m perfectly fine with how they’ve approached the story.
Fresh off playing Dead or Alive: Dimensions. I can’t help but notice that the movements are a bit sluggish. Which can be a good or bad thing. Because of the counter system, it might be a bit easier to see what strike is coming instead of trying to guess, but if you’re the attacker, you really have to think how you approach with your attacks.
The health gauge features a new critical stun system, which triggers when you land a solid hit on your opponents and they are staggered for a moment, and with each hit that bar shrinks. With the last bit of that guage left, you can perform a critical burst move that will then stun the opponent completely leaving a good amount of time to unleash a second batch of combos or even a Power Blow.
Power Blows can only be triggered when your health reaches 50%. It’s implemented to give a player an opportunity in a lopsided match and give them a second-chance at turning the game around. Of course there is a risk, the charge up time leaves you vulnerable for a few seconds. So, your opponent can probably react to it if you give them enough space and time.
Environmental hazards and danger zones. Definitely one of DoA’s trademarks, but now it’s become more interactive with the addition of the Power Blows. For some stages, you can simply knock your opponent against an object and it’ll trigger a cut-scene of unfortunate events. For example, I knocked a person off a railing and the cutscene shows my opponent falling through multiple pipes, and finally landing on a small reactor that explodes… My character then casually drops down and the fight continues. With the power blow you can direct where you want your character to hit your opponent towards. Objects that will provide damage or a nifty cutscene will be highlighted among the gray background.
I don’t usually play online, but when I do… it’s for a review. In all seriousness, the online play between another person varies in terms of your opponents connection. During one of my fights, I experienced a bit of hiccups when getting into it and it kind of messes up the flow. Still, the tempo when it’s not lagging is still the same speed as if I were playing at my own home.
You definitely have a lot to work for. Before, costumes could be unlocked by playing Arcade Mode, on the same difficulty and rack up the goodies. Now, in order to unlocked costumes, you need to gradually work your way up through different difficulty levels. This definitely forces you to actually play the game and learn the mechanics of the gameplay, if you want to get the sweet goodies. Along with that, you can farm for titles by completing certain mission requirements within the game. I’m barely there, but from what I’ve read, a secret character can be unlocked if you gain 300 titles, with 524 titles to choose from. Happy farming!
As for any potential for DLC, I’m sure they will add in exclusive pre-order costumes for purchases at a later time, as well as adding new costumes in the future. Yet, Team Ninja made a firm stance on not adding new characters because of balancing issues.
Definitely has the Dead or Alive rock vibe when starting up. Each stage has their own theme that fits with the setting pretty well. Of course, even with a tranquil background, the music will start a bit slow, but have gradual intensity of the music to accompany the event at hand.
Absolutely gorgeous. I’m not just talking about the women either. Just the overall presentation of the game in terms of the character models, the fluidity of movements, and the exotic stages. There’s just a lot to look at.
For character modeling and appearance, during the fights characters can start getting dirty from their surroundings after hitting the floor a couple times. Also, sweat starts form on the characters after exerting a plethora of moves, which can also affect their clothing and appearances in terms of transparency (giggidy). Yet, for flashback cutscenes, they’ve used old footage from Dimensions, which still contains the old models. I guess they didn’t want to take the time to redo those scenes.
The stages are well done, especially one I can vividly recall when I first stumbled upon it. You’re on a raft that starts out in a dark cove. Over in the horizon you can see an opening, and during the fight that raft can slowly reaches that opening. Once outside you end up just on top of a waterfall with luscious backdrops of exotic trees from the island. The raft then breaks at a certain area, and if you or your opponent gets hit towards that, it’ll trigger a cliffhanger scene where the unfortunate victim hangs on the raft for dear life, while the other runs full speed towards them. During this scene, the attacker can choose to punch, kick or throw you down from the raft, BUT if the victim can match the button, the victim can reverse the situation and share the fall damage with his/her attacker. Just nutty stuff.
The only bad thing about the visuals is the cutscene animations. Some of the scenes just seems really bland and outdated and not as smooth as the gameplay animation.
The graphics update is definitely one of the driving forces that will get fans to purchase the game. Fans will definitely not be disappointed at this newly revamped franchise. The gameplay has improved from its previous titles, and newcomers along with casual players should be able to get the hang of things after going through training modes and following the Story Mode and bonus mission tips. More experienced players will definitely have fun at the deeper gameplay of the counter system and analyzing each combo like a chess match. Although, the series has become well known for its perv and bounciness, there is much more that this game has to offer… As for me, I enjoy both aspects. I just find myself getting caught staring too much and losing a match.
I give this game a 4.4 out of 5.
Here are a list of some other review grades DoA5 has received:
Edge Magazine UK: 6/10
Game Informer: 6/10
Game Over Online 95/100
Gaming Age: B+
Official Xbox Magazine: 8/10
Official Xbox Magazine UK: 7/10
Planet Xbox 360: 8/10
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