Dead or Alive 5 Review

The hottest fighters in gaming are back – Tecmo Koei’s Dead or Alive 5, is a promising addition to the series that includes more than twenty fighters (some from SEGA’s Virtua Fighter 5) and interactive stages. Knock your opponents off an exotic waterfall, into an exploding oil rig and experience the story set two years after the events of Dead or Alive 4…

Part of what makes the Dead or Alive franchise so unique, is that unlike a lot of other fighting games that present themselves more of an arcade alternative or port – this game uses a fantasy story to portray purpose to the role of the characters and why you’re fighting in the first place. It uses plenty of cut-scenes to introduce to you the characters and you’ll soon want to get stuck in to see how the plot pans out, but you better get your button mashing fingers to the ready.

In Dead or Alive 5, it’s been two years since the mighty Ninja attack on the DOATEC headquarters, and if you haven’t played this series before, they are an international weapons research organisation who serves as a base group for some of the genetic experiments carried out as they try to create the world’s greatest fighter. Following on from the Dead or Alive 4 story, this sequel – or better put, pentaquel (did we just create a word) follows DoA character Helena Douglas who has taken on the primary task of rebuilding DOATEC. Helena wants to use the organisations new technology and research for peaceful purposes this time around and she herself intends to hold the fifth Dead or Alive tournament, under the new DOATEC principles.

The story mode is one continuous tale broken down in chapters where you will be challenged by the games fighters. It is only after successfully winning a fight or series of fights that the next chapter unlocks and it saves your progression. The game may not be as highly graphically polished as Tekken, or even Street Fighter, but it’s insane Japanese-esque fantasy-military story has a way of making you feel involved. So, it may not feel like a modern fighter, but it’s far more entertaining than most others on the market right now – it doesn’t disappoint in entertainment value, but lacks visual appeal.

Aside from the Story Mode, comes as you’d expect – a variety of different Online and Offline Modes to keep you playing away for hours on end. A simple Fight option allows you to play an offline game of Versus, Arcade, Time Attack, Survival and Training sessions, best used for when you want to play a game locally with another player, or practise some moves without hindering your campaign. Ideal for a quick jump-in-fight, using the modes in this offline selection you can combine characters, customise outfits and fight a stream of opponents to see how many you can defeat.

If you do have access to Xbox LIVE Gold and an Online Pass included with the game (yes – another one of these!) you’ll get to experience all of the online modes available where you can hook up online over LIVE and battle it out with real people the world over. This makes for a more competitive fight as it’s down to skill and playing techniques, putting into practise everything you’ve picked up from the story and training modes to put your name on the Dead or Alive leaderboards. You can select from a Simple 1-on-1 match, a Ranked Match to improve your fighter Grades, and finally a full Lobby Match to fight with up to 16 people and using the rules you choose!

What I do like about the Dead or Alive series is the simplicity in attacks, using just two buttons of Punch & Kick combined with how you move your character you do not really need to memorise set combo’s and you can button mash your way to victory. The best way to play is to counter attack and time your moves just right – keeping an eye on when to successfully block your opponent and you can go a long way without the frustration of failure you can get from playing something like Tekken Tag Tournament 2 – even though it outshines this visually.

Touching back on to the visuals again, Dead or Alive 5 looks and feels very old school, not to the point where it borders on Playstation 2 graphics, but more like an early Xbox 360 game without hardly any improvement visually than Dead or Alive 4. Some of the battle arenas are outstanding, but many others simply basic – it’s hit and miss and feels like different time periods of the Xbox 360 life cycle – just odd. The camera also angles itself many times over to try and raise a dramatic feel when it sometimes comes across too overpowering ruining your greatest fatal blow.

As always depending upon your connection, online can suffer some serious lag issues, but the variety of online gameplay modes available and the massive lobby fights can ensure that you get more than your money’s worth to keep you hard at it long after you’ve completed the Story Mode. Dead or Alive 5 outshines the competition in many ways, but lacks the polish and visual appeal you’d come to expect in 2012 from games.

Good, but not enough to blow you away!

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