Game: Dead or Alive 5
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Available On: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Reviewed On: PlayStation 3
BREASTS! Yes that may be a childish start to this review, but the elephant in the room is now out of the way and hopefully we’ll only mention mammaries once more…hopefully. The Dead or Alive series is now on its fifth outing, in terms of its main fighter genre, and this Japanese title has quite a niche following all over the world. It will be hard to keep hardcore fans from flaming my butt with this; but here goes.
Dead or Alive 5 is the newest addition to the massive influx of fighting games we have had this year, with the likes of Street Fighter X Tekken and Soul Calibur V being the main culprits, but the question on all our lips is, can Dead or Alive 5 be the best fighter out there or will it get knocked out by the competition?
STORY: The story mode is not the usual “pick a character and complete the game” style but is now more akin to the way Mortal Kombat conducted their story. You have a few fights with each character and then move on to the next, with each arc intertwining, twisting and weaving through the storyline. The storyline in general has a good sense of humour about it and is quite interesting to watch, but at first it can be a little scattered, which will have you wondering what the hell is going on. However, in an attempt to avoid the storyline confusion, a visible time line will pop up with each character to show you where you are in the story. With a little patience and concentration the whole thing starts to come together.
The cut-scenes at the start and (occasionally) between each fight can be quite long, in fact sometimes bordering on Metal Gear Solid length. You will see some scenes repeated as the timelines come together, which sometimes works well, but not always. When this happens you will find yourself starting to get impatient and just want to fight, but apart from these points, as a story mode, it is well executed that will draw you in and keep you entertained with its humour and action.
GRAPHICS: An immense amount of effort has gone into the character and level design and it is gorgeous to look at. All of the characters look amazing and highly detailed, with some looking almost too beautiful. They include all of the old favourites with some new additions which include some characters from the Virtual Fighter universe. Another nice addition to the visuals is that the characters also visibly sweat, and as you increase the movement during a fight, more sweat will be produced, which is a nice touch. The sweat also seems to make the character’s outfits damp to give it a more realistic look.
Right, it’s time to get the obvious out of the way. It is no surprise that most of the graphic attention is based on the female characters boobs, and if that floats your boat you will be very happy, as they bounce all over the place, but they also move according to what they are wearing, so in loose clothes or bikinis they move a lot, and less movement with tighter clothing. Why they have gone into so much effort is really beyond me, but if that’s what fans want, then fair enough. In all honesty, I haven’t felt this ashamed of looking at computer generated breasts since playing Leisure Suit Larry on the Xbox!
The level design is amazing to look at and very highly detailed, with many danger zones. Similarly to the previous Dead or Alive outings you can smash through walls or floors into different areas, with the transition between them looking painfully good, yet exciting. The frame rate for this game – it has to be said – is very solid and a technical achievement, it doesn’t suffer from any slowdown when the pace of the fight increases. Team Ninja have done a sterling job on this front and all of the graphics in general.
SOUND: The soundtrack accompanies the game very well, whether it be on the title screen, cut-scenes or in game fighting. It encapsulates the mood nicely and also makes the fights more intense. The voice acting is executed well and quite funny, because the script writing clearly is in a Japanese style, similar to other games from the east (Shadows of the Damned and Lollipop Chainsaw are good examples). It gives the game a charm and fun feeling during the humorous bits and can be quite gritty in the serious moments.
The Sound effects give you that extra feeling when you hit your opponent hard, which makes you feel like you are smashing your opponent in the face repeatedly with what feels like a hammer (a really big hammer), so everything here and the sound in general is top notch stuff.
GAMEPLAY: Nothing has really changed from its previous outing in terms of the gameplay but, to be honest, the fighting system was pretty strong to begin with. You have your usual punch, kick and throw, along with the hold button to counter your opponent which is the main bread and butter of your arsenal. You can have single matches and tag matches as well, which can lead to some pretty interesting tag manoeuvres.
The game is quite fast paced so getting your moves in can be a little tricky, but it is possible to counter when you are getting slapped around by your opponent. The problem with this is that it is so fast, you have half a second when you realize that you are getting your arse handed to you, and by the time you react, you will probably be a snotty heap on the floor. With a lot of practice and some concentration you will be able to nail it and then pit your skills at harder difficulties and online.
Apart from the aforementioned story, there isn’t really anything new mode wise. You still have the usual modes such as Verses, Time Attack, Survival and Training, and it does have arcade mode which is essentially score attack, but is more akin to the old style of fighting games. There isn’t really anything new that can set itself apart from any other fighting game. The only real addition is that you can save your fights as replays and then take photos, so you can either get some great action shots or, if you so desire, release your inner pervert.
In general though, even if gameplay hasn’t really changed, it is still an enjoyable and solid fighter that will definitely become more satisfying as you progress your skills.
MULTIPLAYER: The online features are fairly simple, you have a quick match for a fast fight or ranked match if you wish to grade yourself and pit your skills against the worlds best, but you can also lobby 16 people together and watch or compete in fights against each other and it won’t affect your overall grade. You also have access to leaderboards to check where you stand in the world or against your mates, as well as registering your favourite character and see how your online record stands with those.
Not only that, you can attach titles (in similar manner to Call of Duty or Street Fighter IV) which you can gain by completing tasks during fights in story mode. A full list of these titles is available in the extras part of the Missions menu. Whether or not the online modes prove to be more popular with the community than the previous Dead or Alive outing remains to be seen, but they have definitely included some more features that should keep fans entertained.
LONGEVITY: If you are new to the Dead or Alive series you will probably play this for a couple of weeks and maybe come back to it depending on how much you enjoyed it. For the die hard fans of the series, you will probably adore this title due to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” gameplay, stunning graphics and sound that accompany the game. With the online modes however, if you have no experience with the Dead or Alive games then you will find it frustrating due to the big following this title has, so you will have to get some practice in before attempting an online match and see how you fare when you are becoming a fighting badass.
VERDICT: Dead or Alive 5 is a very good fighter that is most definitely a worthy contender that will likely keep the fans happy. It is graphically beautiful and holds together well, with its smooth frame rate and fast pace, it is enjoyable and can be satisfying to play due to its solid fighting system (especially if you get some practice in). The only thing that Team Ninja missed out on with this game was that fact that all of the modes are nothing that hasn’t been done before. With a few more interesting modes/mini games, cutting down the cut scenes and touching up on the storytelling, it would have given it that extra shine and potentially overtake the competition. Well worth your money, if you can provide the dedication required to master it.