Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Developer: Team Ninja
Release Date: 9/25/2012
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Dead or Alive is one of the longest-running fighting games dating back to the PS1 era. It is also one of the fighting games that probably adds the least amount of features or changes through each sequel. DoA 5 doesn’t really add much, so fans of DoA 4 will be a little disappointed here. The fighting system is nearly unchanged, and all you will notice from the beginning is a new story and a graphical upgrade. The game looks pretty good, and there’s a long 65 mission story, but is it worth the $60 purchase if you are just happy with DoA Dimensions or DoA 4?
The only new additions to the fighting system are the Cliffhangers and the Critical System. Both are underwhelming and just add to the already complicated fight system. However, it is more enjoyable to button mash than other fight games that rely on things like jump canceling, jump this, cancel that, etc. DoA is based around a triangle fight system that is based on holds and counter-attacks. This means you have to be quick and read your opponent’s moves, most fighting games aren’t like that. This is also a problem because predicting moves is very hard in this game, and having counters and holds for high, low, and mid strikes is just ridiculous and create a very high learning curve that will turn most new players away.
The Critical System allows you to do extra damage when the word pops up on the screen, when it turns red you can do even more damage, but the timing for this is a serious pain. You spend more time trying to read and predict all this stuff than just button mashing which is a lot more fun. Some fighting games are more fun when learning the moves and the fighting system (Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs Capcom), but Dead or Alive isn’t. You have to focus less on the fight and more on the animations and things that pop up on the screen. I spent hours trying to learn all this, but in the end, just resorted back to button mashing which I felt more confident in.
Cliffhangers are cinematic events in which you Power Blow (a super-powerful charged attack) into a certain Danger Zone and a quick time event coming up. This was fun, but it is hard to figure out the special Danger Zone in most stages and leads right back to that issue where you are distracted from the actual fight. DoA 5 just adds too many distractions, but for people who don’t mind (probably hardcore fans) then you may like these new ideas. Despite all of this the fighting system is very fun and fluid and is all martial arts with no fancy fireballs or magic attacks.
The story mode is back and is pretty well developed, but is confusing for newcomers. You had to have played past story modes because they pick up after each other. Kasumi is just trying to stop Alpha 152 again and the Mugen Tenshin clan (Ayane, Ryu Hayabusa, and Hayate) are after her. In the meantime, Zack is trying to recruit people for Dead or Alive 5, and most people will find the story mostly uninteresting. It is better than most fighting game stories though. The graphics look great and pretty much push the consoles to their limits. There is a new dirt and sweat feature added to characters, but you can only guess why. Dead or Alive is 70% female fighters with large breasts that jiggle with every move in very little clothing. This isn’t a bad thing because most of the characters are well known and very well developed with unique personalities. One of the features in every Dead or Alive release, for me, are the new costumes I can unlock in the game because they are so well done and make the women look even more beautiful.
The story mode also has bonus missions, but after halfway through starts becoming impossibly difficult. Dead or Alive isn’t really a combo type of game, but pulling off 7 and 10-hit combos can be a serious chore. Online modes are fun as always, but most players will get discouraged at the good long-time fighters. This just proves that you must master the triangle system because once you get locked into a combo you’re stuck. Health bars deplete quickly in this game so fights can last only a minute or two.
Overall, DoA 5 doesn’t bring much to the table to call this a true sequel, graphical upgrades, a new story, and just a couple of new additions to the fighting system, but they hamper it down. There are also no new characters just a few cameos from Virtua Fighter. Plus, the stages are actually pretty boring. Construction site, a street, a Japanese house. Yawn. DoA 5 is solid and fun but wait for a price drop.