The Average Gamer

Dead or Alive 5 Review (360)

The last time I played a Dead or Alive game was nearly 7 years ago. It’s difficult to remember exactly. I’ve delved into Tekken and become obsessed with SoulCalibur but never explored Dead or Alive as a series. What I do remember is probably the same as most hormone-filled 16 year old males at the time; it was very focussed towards stirring up the whirlpool that is adolescence. Now as a twenty-something year old, has the experience changed any? Is it still all boobs and dodgy failing shots. Not exactly.

To start with, there is no denying that Dead or Alive 5 is marketed on its sex appeal. This is not something that separates it from its kindred fighters but rather, it holds it in line. SoulCalibur V’s controversial advertising springs to mind as a prime example, I’m not here to argue whether it’s the right kind of marketing or even if it’s a good or bad thing to have in the industry. However it is something that is prevalent throughout the genre. From half-naked guys, women in barely any clothing to noises that sound more like they are from the bedroom than the boxing ring, DOA5 is no exception. Thankfully, it’s also a bloody good game to boot.

Stories and fighters are an interesting mix. A fighter can have good narrative but how do you wrap multiple characters into one long story while still focussing on the fighting. DOA5 manages to pull it off with a great deal of class. Its story mode is huge, spreading across a detailed timeline which is then split down into smaller character sections.

With each character lasting 3 to 4 fights, it manages to encompass the majority of the titles roster in one fell swoop. Tutorial-style missions accompany each fight, starting with the simpler mechanics and then going into the more advanced techniques and combos of each fighter. By the end of the 4+ hour campaign you should be more than well versed in its methods.

The detailed story and tutorial missions aren’t just a nice touch, they are essential. You see underneath the layers of glamorous, sexy and sometimes downright weird costumes is a deep and technical fighter. Control wise it follows the age-old face buttons + direction system; depending on your choice, either the directional buttons or the analogue stick can be used. Punches, kicks and holds are chained together for combos that are mostly mind blowing.

There is a handy move teacher you can activate when in practice mode which will run through the combos from simple 1-2s to lifebar-obliterating mega-combos. Mostly these require the perfect setup, and that’s where DOA5 comes into its own. Using the environment against your opponent, forcing them into a position, hitting them with a low kick when they charge for a crushing mid strike – it’s fun and easy to use for a beginner while responsive and destructive in the hands of an expert.

When not blitzing through the enticing campaign there are a host of other modes available, arcade, survival and traditional dojo modes sit side by side with Versus and tournament style online modes which can hold up to 16 players. DOA5 holds more than enough fun for any fighting fan, the cast of fighters available are varied enough in style to provide a challenge with each character selection, Ninja Gaiden star Ryu Hyabusa is fast and agile in comparison to the slow lumbering Bass, Mila and her MMA background is a stark contrast to the unpredictable Drunken Fist of Brad Wong. Regardless of your preference there is someone here for you.

Adding to the DOA5 cake is some occasionally amusing voice acting and scripting. It’s difficult to tell if voices like Helena’s over the top French/English are intentional, but they do make for interesting watching. The topping of this all are the event areas themselves, from forests to multi levelled oil platforms they are full of destructive and destructible items, whole floors collapse, towers crash down, tanks explode. With the right planning the environment itself is just as dangerous as the weaponised fists you control and twice as fun to use too.

But how do you solve a problem like Dead or Alive 5? Taking the time to dig into all the available options reveals a game that conveys the sheer love Team Ninja have for their series. It is clear, even for someone that isn’t too familiar with the early entries that DOA5 is an evolution through years of making fighting games. Despite all this there is nothing to truly set it apart from other fighters once you get past the scantily clad fighters and suggestive camera pans. Dead or Alive 5 is a game aimed towards a market already entranced with its assets, however anyone that does take the time to explore its layers will find a rewarding system.

Dead or Alive 5 is out now on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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