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Dead or Alive 5 Review: Foot meet face meet fiery deathtrap

by unt1tled

posted September 26, 2012 @ 5:53PM
blog posts

filed under Games


There's no doubt that the Dead or Alive series has a pretty distinct style going for it, though one could argue it's been both a positive and a negative to its image and reputation. Not much changes for this Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 title in terms of its style, but Team Ninja does fix up the balance and tweaks a few key areas to bring players perhaps one of the best of the series since it began back in 1996.

Speaking of the Dead or Alive style, one only needs to see the bonus pre-order bonuses to know that Team Ninja is still just as obsessed with gifted ladies as ever. Some costumes include revealing swimsuits while another retailer provides a “Premium Sexy Costume” pack of sorts. It makes it that much more taboo given the little changes made to this iteration, such as the characters now sweating and becoming dirty from combat.

The overall experience also improves thanks to many new features immediately obvious from the main menu. For example, players can integrate their Facebook account with the game while also uploading and downloading replays to share experiences. The training mode is deeper than it has ever been before, even going as far as to detail real-time frame data in the middle of simple and complex moves alike. If nothing else, Team Ninja must be applauded for their efforts.

As for the actual fighting, Dead or Alive 5 stays true with its solid gameplay experience. The core mechanic the title relies on is essentially a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors as a player can pull off a fancy combo against his opponent only to be obliterated thanks to a chance opportunity that the player never counted on. Team Ninja also attempts to balance out the gameplay by greatly nerfing counter holds, shutting down the window of opportunity and lessening the amount of damage dealt on the return. This eliminates the problem of lucky wins.

According to creator Tomonobu Itagaki, ring-out opportunities in the series have been few and far between due to offering “cheap” wins, which is why the series has always featured multi-level stages for fighting, and Dead or Alive 5, even though Itagaki is no longer part of Team Ninja, stays true to this concept. The graphics have improved phenomenally, displaying incredible detail of every stage trap, from fiery circus rings to boxes of deadly electricity and more, offering an intense juxtaposition against the beautiful Japanese environment.

In addition to the story and versus modes, players can enter a spectator mode that, much like it suggests, allows them to observe a match rather than participate in it. This isn't a means to watch two skilled players have at it, either; this is purely to watch the AI combat itself. Other forms of entertainment in Dead or Alive 5 include time trial, survival and arcade modes.

The roster also deserves a mention as it hosts almost every single character from previous Dead or Alive games (sadly, Leon is not in the game), two newcomers to the series, Mila and Rig, along with Akira, Sarah Bryant and Pai from Sega's Virtua Fighter series. Having so many fighters on the board makes it well-rounded, affording better accessibility for those new to the fighting genre and allowing veterans a large stable of characters to master.

Dead or Alive 5 is likely one of the most balanced titles in the series so far, and it's very refreshing to see Team Ninja putting more and more effort into each release of the series.

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