Platform: Xbox, PS3
Release Date: 28/09/12
Dead Or Alive 5 Review
The humble one on one fighting game – made famous by Streetfighter II, with many franchises being born around the genre: Mortal Kombat, Tekken and of course Dead or Alive. It is a game that gave us unique counter moves, a simpler control system with just one punch, kick and guard button… a game that also gave us the female characters with big breasts! Now the fifth game of the series is upon us, but should it have stayed dead at 4?
I’ve always loved fighting games; the crazy-ass moves that you can employ, the subtle strategy you can smash your opponents with. DoA has always for me been a tongue-in-cheek series though, never taking itself too seriously – going way over the top with animations. Yet its subtlety and simplicity has always drawn me in, with its quirky humour making me grin like a cheshire cat. I’ve never really followed much of the story; for me a fighting game is all about the fighting. It’s simple, fun and downright addictive if done correctly in its most basic form.
With DoA 5 they seem to have spent a great deal focusing on the story, which is set two years after the last one. DOATEC is still being run by Helena, with her faithful employee Zach. She decides it’s about time for the fifth tournament to bring DOATEC back into the limelight! So Zach begins to travel the world to round up all of the greatest fighters for the tournament. Cue lots of cutscenes as the story unravels around you… in fact this is one of the biggest gripes I have with this game. I didn’t actually get into my first fight for roughly ten minutes after starting the story mode. Then it seemed to be a simple affair, as all of the fights last one round. You do have bonus missions to complete during the fight to add a little variety – this seems to be used as a tutorial on how to play. For instance, the first fight sees you having to land five medium punches, the second fight five medium kicks and so on. Teaching you as you progress is fine, however I found it a little annoying as all I really wanted to do was jump in, mix it up and lay the smack down! All the while more cutscenes appear and you end up waiting once more until the next bout.
The story doesn’t focus on one character either; with other games you pick your character and you get to see their whole story as you progress through. Being old and grumpy I like it that way – you get to know the characters a little more. For me it also adds longevity to the game as you complete with each character to see their individual stories come into play. With DoA 5 however, you unlock chapters in order; each chapter focuses on one character, wIth some chapters only lasting three to four bouts (each of just one round). I found myself getting rather annoyed! Good on them for trying to be a little more original and shake things up, but for me it just didn’t work. Just as I would get used to a character’s individual style of fighting – pulling off combos and learning their unique moves – the damn chapter would end and I would then be playing as a new character. I admit at times I really wanted to bloody well scream!
The story itself is rather bizarre to say the least, strung together on a very thin piece of string. The actual fights though are fast and fluid, with each punch and combo you pull off looking rather gorgeous. The controls have been kept the same from previous incarnations, with a punch, kick, guard and throw button. If you’re used to the previous games then you’ll feel right at home. In fact much is the same from DoA 4, with danger zones being present, the subtle depth behind the counter systems. One of the new features this time around is the new critical burst – land blows upon your opponent to stun them; get this right in an unbroken combo and you can then unleash some real damage using a critical burst move. This new move helps add a little more strategy to your bouts, especially once you realise your opponent can’t hold whilst grounded following a successful burst.
Various characters return to the ring including Tina, Helena and Brad Wong – these are joined by two new faces: Mila and Rig. Yet there are more surprises in store for fighting fans, for this time around you can play as a few characters from SEGA’s Virtua Fighter series. Akira, Sarah and Pai are welcome additions to the roster – it’s good to see them back on our screens and their moves are still as deadly as before!
Other single player modes include the arcade mode, compete for the highest scores. Time attack and versus modes are here along with the usual training room options, and to round it all off there’s also a survival mode. You can also take photos during bouts to show off in your album and there’s also 524 titles to collect.
Tag team action is back! Not much has changed since I played it last, with the ability to tag your team partner in to pull off some crazy combos. I was glad to see it had returned, but if I’m honest was hoping for some changes – to have it evolving would have been interesting and I found myself feeling a little disheartened.
Online options are your standard affair for any fighting game. From ranked matches to lobbies, to filterable fighter lists – everything you’d expect from a fighting game. They all play well but nothing stands out as evolutionary or ground breaking.
Good solid fast and fun combat.
Critical burst moves feel great to pull off.
Story mode can get tedious.
Too many damn cutscenes.
Nothing really new.