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Review

Dead or Alive 5 Review

  • Game release: September 25, 2012
  • Reviewed:
  • X360

Dead or Alive 5 is a deceptive game: behind all the gorgeous women and explosive areas rests a dynamic and enjoyable fighter.

The Dead or Alive series has always had an enthusiastic appreciation for the fairer sex. Dead or Alive 5 is no exception. Katsumi, Hitomi, Tina, and the rest of this top-heavy cast have returned as full-figured as ever. But DOA5's exaggerated brand of beauty is only skin deep. It's the foundation of solid fighting mechanics that gives this game its true appeal.

Combat in Dead or Alive 5 is divided into strikes, holds, and throws. These attack types form an rock, paper, scissors relationship: strike beats throw, throw beats hold, and hold beats strike. Strike has a good chance at beating hold as well, since the defending player must execute the correct hold with perfect timing. Strikes also have the greatest potential for damage because you can combo them together--while the majority of holds and throws end with a hard knockdown. This damage potential is further enhanced by one of DOA5's two new techniques, the critical burst.

Critical bursts are a new tool designed to extend combos and guarantee damage. Visually, they are almost indistinguishable from normal strikes, but successfully landing one puts opponents into a helpless state. From here, attacking players can finish out their combo unhindered by the possibility of a hold. The second new technique is the power blow. You can perform this highly cinematic attack only once per round, and only when you are below half health. Landing the power blow triggers a brief combo, and then the recipient is slammed into the environment, which deals substantial damage.

Mila assaults Juan Lee after a successful cliffhanger event.

Moment-to-moment fighting in Dead or Alive 5 carries with it a satisfying feeling of weight and brutality. While difficult to perform consistently, holds grant quick-witted defenders an active way to influence the fight. However, being on offense has a definite advantage. The addition of critical bursts gives skilled fighters a means to maximize damage, making matches more lethal than ever before. Throws and holds have their uses, but are simply not as potent as punches and kicks.

Dead or Alive 5 still has plenty to offer for those unconcerned with the relationship between throws and strikes. In a fighting landscape filled with meters, gauges, and hyper combos, Dead or Alive 5 masks some of its complexity with a minimalist appearance. Take the critical bursts discussed earlier. There is a very subtle visual cue that indicates when you can successfully perform one; however, it is so slight that you would miss it if you didn't know to look for it.

Without a cluttered HUD, this fighter draws the eye toward its outrageous visuals. What starts as a friendly sparring match between friends could easily end up causing a massive train car pileup or a raging oil fire. Dubbed danger zones, the environmental hazards can give you an edge (so long as you're not the one getting your head slammed into an electrified barrier), and their over-the-top violence adds some extra excitement to the fight. These design choices let newer players pick up and enjoy the game, while still feeding seasoned fighters the information they need.

Zack may act goofy, but he's just as deadly as the rest of the roster.

For players new to the Dead or Alive series, the best place to start is the game's Story mode, which doubles as its main educational mode. In brief, series veteran Helena has assumed control of DOATEC, a corporation that does something and is hosting another tournament to celebrate. Each fighter has his or her own reason for entering, but it's difficult to keep track of when (and why) events are happening. The plot is entertaining in its ridiculousness, but not so much that you stop laughing at the story and start laughing with it.

At the start of each fight in Story mode, a challenge is presented that is designed to teach you about the game. These start out simple enough: land five punches, block 10 strikes. A counter at the bottom of the screen tracks your progress, and success unlocks new titles (and occasionally characters) for your use.

Can you untangle Dead or Alive 5's web of intrigue?

In later fights, when more complex or technically difficult tasks are introduced, it becomes too easy to ignore these tasks. During the more difficult fights, your desire to win the round supersedes trying to figure out how to use a critical burst, so you could miss that whole lesson. And because there's no indication which matches correspond with which lessons, it's difficult to go back and retry the one's you've failed (or ignored).

Outside of Story mode, there are numerous single-player modes in Dead or Alive 5. Arcade, Survival, and Time Trial are all present. Each mode is divided into seven difficulty levels, ranging from rookie to master. Completing a play through on one of these difficulty levels could earn you a new title or costume, as well as a slot on the leaderboards.

Tag matches let you control two fighters or team up with a buddy.

On your journey to becoming a master, you need to spend some time in Practice mode. Two especially helpful tools are command training and move list. Command training takes you through the selected character's move list one move at a time, while the move list tool displays a short list of commands in the bottom corner of the screen that dynamically update as you perform combos. If you throw out a low kick, for example, the list updates to show which moves you can follow up with.

Once you feel confident in your abilities, you can test your mettle against new opponents online. Ranked matches improve your online standing, while joining a friendly player lobby does not. You can also pair off with a friend and practice sparring online. Replay support is the only area that is severely lacking. Finding a replay means diving into the general leaderboard and searching for an entry with the replay icon. Even then, you don't know which characters will be fighting until you download the match.

Performance-wise, Dead or Alive 5 keeps pace with genre standards. Against online opponents with three connection bars or below, there is noticeable input lag between when you enter a command and when you see it performed onscreen. In contrast, matches with four- and five-star connections run without serious issue.

Dead or Alive 5 is a deceptive game. The subtleties of its solid fighting mechanics are easy to miss under all the flashy visual effects layered on top. It is a game new players can pick up and enjoy without feeling overwhelmed by too many options, while still offering complexity to those who know where to look. It's a dynamic fighter that can be enjoyed by players of all skill types.

The Good
Complex and hard-hitting fighting mechanics
Stable online play
Smooth character animations.
The Bad
Poorly executed educational mode
Sorting replays is a chore.
7.5
Good
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Discussion

0 comments
Stardust7
Stardust7

I received my DOA 5 yesterday ...I have to say the game is amazing....too much better than DOA 4 ....The story mode is just great, english voices ( acting) are very cool too...the fighting mechanics was vastly increased as the graphics and character designs....All characters are really cool and fantastic  ....I really loved DOA 5. :)

painkilla357
painkilla357

This game is one of the best fighting games ever hands down.. online is a beast!!!

megakick
megakick

So nothing bad about this game? If I had to pick Tekken or DOA DOA, Tekken fight mechanic is so clunky. Im not getting Tekken or DOA ATM neither game looks worth the full price.

 

IMO DOA is smooth and fun like Virtue Fighter.

 

datca
datca

i get  this game yesterday .graphics r amazin, sound effects terrible

 

datca
datca

this game s graphics are better than tekken tag , but  punch and kick hit sounds are so bad.

DarksjeiK
DarksjeiK

Team Ninja games are top notch, pollished products. It's just that their franchises don't evolve, playing the original DOA feels exactely the same as DOA5. 

shinigamikid
shinigamikid

I'm surprise that the reviewer did not mentioned anything bad about the story mode? It is whack, dreadful and all over the place, but this is what expect from a fighting game. However, is a awesome game no matter how you look at it. I wonder we will ever see this on next year on EVO 2013. That would be awesome seeing tournament level player going at it.

y3ivan
y3ivan

anyone notice that Counter is difficult to pull off this time? Its much easier to pull strings of combo against someone than DOA4

DSkinMasque
DSkinMasque

Why would any kind of person get this?

 

Fighting game enthusiast : Wow they really haven't added anything to this game since the last.  Casual fest.

 

Perv: The girls still look like Barbies. Also IT NEEDS MORE BOOBIES.

 

Casual: A fighting game that has how many characters? 

 

Me: ... I'd rather play DLC bitch with Capcom. Okay no, gonna wait for a better fighting game series,

maddog555
maddog555

It's not sexist at all. For hundreds of thousands of years, humankind has evolved to appreciate beauty. There is that recognized as the general ideal when men look at women, and there is an general ideal recognized when women look at men. Just because the women in DOA are beautiful doesn't in any way make looking at them sexist, it's simply human nature to appreciate people that are not old, not fat, not ugly, not in shape, etc. Attraction to the physical ideal is the norm throughout the animal kingdom. It's basic evolutionary genetics. In fact, when you consider that in real life, females would have zero chance of winning a fight against a male, just be happy that DOA allows any female character to beat any male character.

 

You don't hear men whining, "Oh no, I feel so bad, all the men in video games are 6 ft tall, have rock hard muscles and are handsome, boo hoo".

 

The bottom line with DOA, is that along with Virtual Fighter, Tekken, and SoulCalibur, DOA is at the top of the 'realistic fighting game' genre (ie: martial arts or weapon based). VF has obviously suffered from presentation and conent issues in the past of course.

charlesdao
charlesdao

READ THE REVIEW GUYS, DONT SEE THE SCORE!

blackace
blackace

I didn't get this one. I might get it later, cause I do like the series, but the games have seemed very similar in the past. I just don't think it's worth $60. Maybe $40. Developers need to realize, if the game doesn't have a huge amount of content and significant changes, gamers aren't going to pay full price or buy it at all.

Gamod
Gamod

This was really a bad review, seriously? 7.5? I think a 8.5 would be what it should have. Really bad reviewer...

maroon7
maroon7

bla bla bla!

just go and buy the game gentlemen.

oflow
oflow

75-percent of the comments here are just talking about the boobs.   Some of you guys need to put down the controllers and go play with some real boobs lol.

Warsilver
Warsilver

I think 7.5 is a bit generous...

capaho
capaho

Great! Just what we need, another sexist game.  Will game developers ever grow up?

Atermi
Atermi

@megakick Tekken is a perfect fighting game. Not in terms of fighting, but in terms of game. It has a huge number of chars with their own styles, is easy to learn and hard to master, it is a benchmark of all fighting games whatever haters  would say.
DOA is a very narrowly-vectored game with very few characters and very short fights, it has only realistic styles, no superhits, and overall is a much lesser game compared to Tekken.
 


ForceofNature9
ForceofNature9

@DarksjeiK 

Just like how every Tekken game pretty much feels the same or Soul Calibur, or Street Fighter, etc. Fighting games don't need to evolve. They just get refined. Can you imagine if Hockey, Baseball or Football evolved every few years?

Jonny-Two-Delta
Jonny-Two-Delta

 @DarksjeiK If you'd said DoA2 is the same as DoA5 I'd have agreed that it hasn't changed much since then. The first DoA is very different though.

Stardust7
Stardust7

 @DarksjeiK You are clearly not a doa fan n know nothing about DOA games. DOA has nothing to do with DOA 5. 

Swideswipe101
Swideswipe101

 @shinigamikid Did you play with English voices or Japanese? The Japanese original stuff is a bit better than the poor English dubbing and translating.

Swideswipe101
Swideswipe101

 @DSkinMasque You talk about casuals yet you're a defining example of one. You really don't understand how fighting games work. Almost all fighting game series' mechanics are going to be the same between games, this is normal. Also, I didn't buy this game for boobs, although boobs are great (Also, your profile picture seems to involve a lot of boob). Furthermore, this game is great and isn't casual (You should've realized Team Ninja doesn't make casual games). You want something casual, go play Street Fighter, or Tekken, which has terrible fighting mechanics.

Ninja_Kittycat
Ninja_Kittycat

 @ice_cream_soda haha omg i agree, i saw that and though "they didn't play it enough, or spelling error" so fail both ways <3

Gamod
Gamod

 @blackace I think the most notable fighter was MK, it had good amount of content... but if you think about the capcom games, they dont have that much content and they always sell expensive and always get nice reviews... why?

Altazen
Altazen

 @Gamod This was really a bad user review, seriously? 8.5? i think a 7.0 would be what it should have. Really bad user reviewer...

oflow
oflow

@capaho its not just any developers its the Japanese in particular.  Their culture is sexist and racist (notice how the black character is like a clown/pimp) against non-Japanese. Doubtful that will change anytime soon. 

starduke
starduke

 @capaho You do realize this is DOA 5, right? The series has always been like this. I, for one, appreciate that they didn't change their art style to suit people like you who are complaining about it. Also, the ladies may have huge unrealistic breasts, but they fight as well as the men.

AzathothMetal
AzathothMetal

 @capaho the target group is males from 15 to 25 years who likes beautiful women and big breasts, it was never meant for gays and women, you dont like? dont play :)

PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

 @Gamod  @blackace When I played MK9 I was converted. Even all the unlockables, long story and a pile of modes didn't save the clunky gameplay I didn't like. I rather play SF4, MVC3 or SFxT even if they have a lot less stuff.

 

But like COD some brands are so huge they sell even without changes. Resident Evil, Halo, Street Fighter, GTA etc. are pre-ordered even if people have seen no to little gameplay.

capaho
capaho

 @oflow  @capaho Sad but true.  Japanese culture is ethnocentric and nationalistic.  They have yet to grasp concepts of diversity, human rights and human compassion when it comes to the way they view those who "aren't one of us."

capaho
capaho

 @starduke So when are they going to come out with a version that features young guys with big baskets wearing hot pants?

DSkinMasque
DSkinMasque

 @AzathothMetal  @capaho Beautiful women? You must be joking. If you are into polygons that look like Barbie you need to get help.  Also as dull and stale the gameplay happens to be the only one that likes this game are two chicks and my sister...so...lol.

capaho
capaho

 @AzathothMetal Well, that justifies it.  What responsible mother wouldn't want her teenage son to be encouraged to objectify women by a video game from a sexist culture?

DSkinMasque
DSkinMasque

 @capaho  @starduke 

...ALL of the males portraited on videogames are unrealistic even more so than women. Guys don't bitch about that we don't give a fuck.

starduke
starduke

 @capaho They won't it doesn't fit the style of DOA. If you want a game like that, then you'd have to make it.

CrossChecked
CrossChecked

 @capaho  @starduke And to this comment, I thought the male equivalent of sex appeal were huge muscles and bare chests? Because I see alot of ridiculously large muscles and bare chests in the screenshots. 

CrossChecked
CrossChecked

 @capaho  @AzathothMetal If someone is going to objectify real women from a game as obviously ridiculous as this, they really need to get out more, or the parents seriously need to talk to them.

Dead or Alive 5 More Info

  • Released
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation Vita
    • Xbox 360
    Dead or Alive 5 incorporates a variety of martial arts fighting techniques into its signature fighting style to create a new generation of intense DEAD OR ALIVE combat.
    8.2
    Average User RatingOut of 410 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Dead or Alive 5
    Developed by:
    Team Ninja
    Published by:
    Koei Tecmo Games, TECMO KOEI GAMES CO., LTD., Tecmo Koei America Corp.
    Genres:
    Action, Fighting, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence