It has been almost an entire console generation since fans have received a new entry to the Dead or Alive series, Dead or Alive 5.
But finally, it’s here. Dead or Alive 5 busts onto Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with all the sexy characters and gorgeous visuals we’ve all come to expect from the series. But what does the new game do better than the last? And was it worth the wait?
Read on to find out!
Let’s first start by getting the story out of the way – which is exactly what you’ll do when you boot up Dead or Alive 5 for the first time. The story follows all characters as they gravitate towards being involved in the 5th “Dead or Alive” tournament. Kasumi is, meanwhile, on the hunt for her clone “Alpha-512″.
The story isn’t much to write home about, but it’s there to serve to train you up, unlock some unlockables such as new characters and give you a general sense of why you’re beating all these good looking people to death. The story mode is extensive, though – you’ll have a fair few hours under your belt, but in general its marred by terrible voice acting and a wishy-washy plot that requires dedication to keep up with.
If you still require more practise after the story mode, the Training Mode is an excellent tutorial mode which gives visual details on the buttons you need to hit in succession to pull off all the combos. The options on offer in Training is superb and all newcomers should give this a look to hone their skills.
Fighting is what the game is really all about, and to that end Dead or Alive 5 serves as the best entry to the series yet. Fans of the series will tell you the fluid motion of the battles is the big drawcard when compared to something like Street Fighter or even Tekken, and DOA5 feels great to play.
Sure, most of the time you’ll be button mashing – but that’s part of the fun of the series. If you’re a novice, you’ll still pull off some cool combos by randomly bashing at the buttons. If you’re a pro, you’re going to appreciate the delicate balance of the characters, the responsiveness of the controls, and the ability to use the stages to your advantage.
Dead or Alive pioneered this feature in fighting games. Most stages are interactive – you can throw a character off a cliff, or onto an exploding wall, or through a doorway into another room. In this edition, there have been some enhancements – such as being hit by bullets from the stage itself, or fighting on a raft as it drifts down a river – but in general, it’s the same cool feature we’ve come to know and love.
For the first time, some characters from SEGA’s Virtua Fighter series have been included as unlockable characters. Akira Yuki, Sarah Bryant and Pai Chan are all included and can be unlocked by playing through the story mode. These characters do not feel out of place when it comes to fighting, though purists will notice.
One of the standout features of the Dead or Alive series has got to be the graphics. The game looks beautiful. Character’s costumes have fantastic textures, you’ll notice the embroidery on Kasumi’s outfit, for instance. The development team have paid massive attention to detail – when your character gets pushed into the dirt, they become dirty. If your fight is intense, you can see the sweat beading off their face and body. If you throw a character into a pool of water, their clothes and hair will be wet.
Most of this is pure fanservice – in fact, after each match you’re free to rotate the camera around in any direction you deem appropriate (or inappropriate, if you fancy), but I don’t think you’ll hear many complaints. Dead or Alive 5 is sexually suggestive in nature, but it’s one of the features of the game, rather than a cheesy excuse for smut. For its part, it is done tastefully enough and doesn’t really get in the way, but there is a reason this game has been rated ‘M'; it’s for mature adults who can appreciate the humor in it all.
For hardcore fans of the series, you’re going to be satisfied with the amount of content of offer in Dead or Alive 5, but probably disappointed if you’re expecting some quantum leap in innovation the series once boasted. There are improvements, but no major overhauls. It’s not a game changer, but a comfortable entry to the already fantastic series.
For those who are just getting stared, you will be pleased to know that if you have never played any Dead or Alive game in the past, DOA5 is accessible enough and indeed enjoyable enough to dive head first into.