Dead or Alive’s greatest strength comes from its accessibility. Unlike many of its ilk, Dead or Alive rejects complex move-sets and combos for something simpler and purer. Two buttons do the majority of the work: punch and kick, combinations of which allow you to string together simple combos. A throw button and block button round off the face of the controller, leaving the shoulder buttons and triggers to dish out a more powerful punch and kick, a power blow, and a cheeky taunt. It’s wonderfully austere.
DOA is more about rhythm. Shifting the tempo of your strikes, keeping them varied aiming high and low on your opponent, being prepared to sidestep at a moment’s notice, and blocking in time with an incoming strike to counter and stun your foe. Indeed DOA isn’t complex but remains nuanced. Add to that gorgeous looking graphics, exciting transitions between areas within arenas, an intense soundtrack and impactful sound effects, and you’ve got yourself a superb fighter.
Dead or Alive 5: Last Round brings all of the aforementioned qualities together in the final version in the Dead or Alive 5 series, bringing together the previous version’s content, along with a few new things, to provide the definitive edition. The modes on offer are standard fighting game fare, not offering anything special but covering all the basics to allow you and the AI to fight it out in classic arcade mode or training, or for you and friends to beat the snot out of each other in one-on-one bouts or tag team locally or online.
The story mode is absolutely nonsensical and ridiculous, offering the flimsiest of excuses to pit two fighters against each other, but series fans will likely get a kick out of the lengthy narrative, and it serves as a good introduction to each character as your control shifts along the roster.
Over its previous generation release, Last Round offers an obscene amount of unlockable costumes, and unfortunately these primarily reveal more and more flesh of the female fighters, a Dead or Alive trait that the original fifth release had moved away from a little bit. It’s disappointing to see it return. The roster, meanwhile, has been increased to 34 fighters bringing fan favourites back as well as a couple of new characters, but unfortunately this dilutes the quality a little bit. More than a few from the roster clearly haven’t been given the time and care to make their move-sets unique or entertaining to fight with. Otherwise, an increased frame rate and resolution, some mildly improved lighting and particle effects, two new stages, and a basic but fast and stable online mode, rounds off the package brilliantly.
Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is a terrific fighting game. Although it looks very much like it did on the Xbox 360, the exaggerated, cartoon aesthetic has always looked stunning and it doesn’t look out-of-place on the Xbox One for a second. And despite some superfluous characters the highly accessible combat style and spectacle of launching opponents into other areas during a bout, is just as compelling and enjoyable as ever.
Editor’s note: During our time with Dead or Alive: Last Round we encountered none of the bugs or save data corruption that the title is apparently plagued by. However, Team Ninja have publicly acknowledged that there are some serious bugs being experienced and they are working on fixes.
Thanks to Tecmo Koei for supplying TiX with a download code
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