It’s been six years since the last full-fledged DOA game was released. While the trademark eye-candy is still as jiggly as ever, there is much more to this fighter than what meets the eye. Dead or Alive 5 (DOA5) strives to be a fighting game that gamers of all skill levels can enjoy.
DOA5‘s fighting style may not be quite as intricate as say, Virtua Fighter or Street Fighter, but it really isn’t supposed to be. Tecmo Koei has come up with the vision of “fighting entertainment”, and they deliver exactly that. This game is flat-out fun, even if it lacks the intricate power meter bars of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter X Tekken. The combos feel fleshed out and carry a good amount of force behind every impact. The controls are responsive and straight-forward, providing the gamer with a clear understanding of how and why certain moves can be combined into a string of hits. The combo animations aren’t lighting fast like other fighting games. This makes the combos easy to remember, since your eye can catch all the little details as your character strings each punch and kick together. It is far from a button-masher, but the moves are far more accessible than the finger gymnastics required by other fighters.
Forget Heavy punches and kicks. DOA5 breaks its combat into strikes, holds and throws with a button for each. Holds are the most difficult to perform, but learning to execute them is crucial; they allow skilled fighters to turn the tides in battle. Each character has their own skill-set, adding depth and a bit of a learning curve – even if the learning curve is a friendly one. Two universal moves, Critical Bursts and Power Blows, also give gamers an edge in battle. Critical Bursts help you continue a combo – essentially knocking your opponent senseless. Power Blows, meanwhile, can only be used when your health meter is down halfway, providing an equalizer in battle.
In a genre full of health and power bars, DOA5 remains simple; a health bar is all that clutters up the HUD. This not only makes it stand out among its competitors, it allows you to fully enjoy the backgrounds, character models, and their, ahem, assets. Most of the environments are interactive, and occasionally they can affect the flow of a fight. Knocking your adversary through a flaming background or having missiles shooting through the fighting area just add one more layer of fun to the combat. Naturally, the character models are intricate, and while one can truly admire the amount of detail and work put into them, you can’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of the female models. This has been a staple in the DOA series, and really is a trademark, so there’s no reason for anyone to complain about it by now. If you didn’t know DOA likes their ladies with jiggling and swaying T&A, then you’ve been living under a rock. You’ve now been informed.
DOA5 intends on being extremely user-friendly, so there is a lack of an intricate tutorial like so many other fighting games provide. Instead, DOA5 incorporates the training into a Story Mode. At first, it seems long and drawn out, providing a silly plot and some less than believable circumstances for a fight to occur. Over time though, you begin to enjoy the campy rhetoric. Unless you are a HUGE DOA fan, you probably won’t have any idea what in the world is going on with the stories and characters, but do those ever really matter in fighting games? Nope. It is a very interesting way to provide a light tutorial mode and allow players to try out different characters and new moves against a wide array of opponents.
The replay value of DOA5 is extremely high, given the large character list and a multitude of standard modes, like Time Trials, Survival, and Arcade. The online versus is smooth and solid with very little loading/delay issues. Of course, like any online fighting game, be prepared to have your butt kicked. The challenge rests in using those whippin’s to learn from your mistakes, becoming a stronger fighter over time.
Many of the more hardcore fighting fans will lean toward Street Fighter or Tekken for their intricacy and depth of moves and combos. This will undoubtedly leave DOA5 as an underrated addition to the genre, but shouldn’t be overlooked. Naturally, DOA’s niche fans will enjoy this addition to the series. But those looking for a fun, accessible fighting game that has plenty of character without sacrificing a decent fighting layout should pick this one up, for sure.
I give Dead or Alive 5 4 “Totally Legitimate Fighting Outfits” out of 5