Dead or Alive 5 Review!
Overview:Systems: PS3, XBOX 360
Pros:Fluent fighting system, great visual detail, solid online component.
Cons:Unnecessarily confusing story mode.
The Dead or Alive competition returns in the fifth entry to the series, attracting new challengers to the lineup. Step back in the arena and prove your supremacy as a fighter!
Originally released in arcades in 1996, Dead or Alive showcased unique gameplay based on speed and the ability to counter-hold opponents’ attacks. Since fighting games at the time were centered around special moves and complex combos, this new style of 3D fighter attracted large amounts of attention from both casual and hardcore gamers. Throughout its long history, the series has stayed true to this formula of easy to learn, faced-past fighting action. DOA 5 is follows suit gracefully and offers a pleasing sequel to an already respectable franchise.
Plot has never been a large part of the DOA experience, usually offering a shallow glimpse into each fighter in exploring their reasons for participating in the tournament. As your chosen character fights his or her way through the other participants, short events occur between fights that serve as a sort of bridge to the next fight. This game changes the traditional arcade-style story progression by presenting a fully encompassing story that unfortunately tries to cover too much information and ends up more confusing than anything. Rather than allowing the player to focus on one character at a time, the story mode follows one timeline that covers each character and their interactions with each other from both perspectives. As you progress, events are revisited and details from previous games are completely left out, often leaving you scratching your head. Overall, this method of storytelling offers a fresh way to present the events of the ga me, but just isn’t executed properly to be coherent in this case.
The unique fighting system is the main attraction of the entire series, and is executed perfectly in this iteration. The standard punch, kick, throw, and guard are all there as expected, but where this game truly shines is in its counter-hold system. Using the guard in combination with the back button allows you to counter your opponent’s attack with proper timing, causing you to gain the upper hand and escape from a chain of attacks. To keep this from being abused, a 3-point counter system is used up through DOA 3. The defending player must modify their counter to match a high, medium, or low attack by pressing up-back, back, or down-back respectively. The fourth and fifth installments have evolved this concept into a 4-point counter system, adding a separate command for medium punches and medium kicks. While this may sound complex in writing getting used to this system of simple attacks and quick-reaction counters is a breeze, and very accessible to those unfamiliar with the past games.
There are a plethora of different game modes to test your skills including story mode, arcade mode, survival mode, tag team battles, and a spectator mode that allows you to watch two computer opponents battle it out while snapping photos of the action. Also available is an online competitive mode that allows players to go head to head with other people from around the globe. In my 20 matches played online I never had any lag issues or disconnects, leaving me very pleased with the solid online performance.
The visuals have been completely overhauled in this release, resulting in more realistic faces, more detailed environments, and to the dismay of many fans, more realistic body proportions. Dead or Alive has long been known for its scantily-clad women and upfront sexuality factor, furthered by the beach volleyball spinoffs in the series. This entry tones down the oversized “assets” and focuses more on realistic character models. This is a welcome change, as this exceptional series often gets a bad reputation when judged by the female characters alone.
The fighting animations are noticeably smooth, transitioning from one attack to another in a natural manor. Each character has their own set of techniques and fighting styles from all over the world are exhibited, offering a wide range of fighting styles from the quick striking ninjas to the slow powerhouse grapplers. The game does a great job at visually conveying each strike to give the opponent just enough time to react to the type of attack without slowing down gameplay at all.
The sound effects are masterfully executed, giving each strike a pleasing smack that lets you know your attack connected. I often find myself relying on the resulting sound from my strike to know if my hit was successful or blocked, leading me to my next action. The game’s music is a soundtrack you’d expect to hear blaring from a cabinet in any arcade fighter; high energy and very repetitive. Most of the soundtrack blends into the background of the action and never stands out above the hard-hitting sounds of combat.
The voice over work is done surprisingly well, a vast improvement over previous games where the voices were nearly painful to listen to. Similar to previous entries DOA 5 allows players to switch the voices to their Japanese recordings, offering that extra mile for those who prefer that setting. For some reason the unlockable characters are of somewhat lower audio quality than the main characters, but this is completely forgivable given the improvement in the rest of the voices.
Although the story mode is less than stellar, Dead or Alive 5 succeeds with flying colors in every other department, and is a definite must for anyone that appreciates a great fighting game. While the various game modes and unlockables including characters, uniforms, and awarded titles keep the replay value of the game moderately high, the fantastic fighting system combined with smooth, detailed graphics boosts it even further. When you throw in a successful online component you’ve got a game that’s going to keep you coming back for more time after time.