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Dead or Alive 5 PS3 Review

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Dead or Alive 5

Dead or Alive 5

Image © Tecmo Koei
The fighting game may be glutted with product right now -- "Tekken Tag Tournament 2" just came out two weeks ago and people are still refusing to allow copies of "Street Fighter x Tekken," "Soul Calibur V," and "Mortal Kombat" to get dusty for good reasons -- but "Dead or Alive 5" is more than just another fighting game. It's the first non spin-off installment in this wildly popular and influential franchise since 2005's "Dead or Alive 4." Seven years is a century in video game time and one has to wonder how the sex-and-violence-with-a-smirk attitude of "DoA" plays in 2012. Will audiences jump back into a world dominated by large-breasted female characters and cartoonish combat (for a look at the style of the game, check out our screenshot gallery) or will they look at "Dead or Alive 5" as a product of a bygone era of gaming? Probably the former. It helps that "DoA 5" is not mere cash-in on gaming nostalgia. It's a fun fighting game, not without its flaws but with an addictive degree of style that will keep fans entering the ring over and over again.

Gameplay

  • Publisher: Tecmo Koei
  • Developer: Team Ninja
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Genre: Fighting Games
  • Pros: Great Character Design, Fun Fighting Levels, Consistent Controls
  • Cons: Awful Voice Work, Bad Screenwriting

How does "Dead or Alive 5" distinguish itself? From the background that's displayed while the disc in your system of a women's lips on a sweaty face, it's about a sexually-charged approach to the fighting game. If you don't remember "Dead or Alive," it's the franchise that built a lot of its popularity on bikini-clad women or those that wear skirts into combat. They've done spin-offs in which the "Dead or Alive" characters play volleyball for one reason. There's meant to be a lascvious charge to these games and while that distinguished the franchise, it also made a lot of players look down on it like it was the disastrous 2006 movie with Jaime Pressly and Devon Aoki. Many fighting game fans probably think they're above "Dead or Alive 5" but I'm here to tell you that the game is good enough to win them back.

Game Details

Dead or Alive 5

Dead or Alive 5

Image © Tecmo Koei

There has clearly been a developmental emphasis put on the elements outside of the camp and sexuality of the franchise like actual fighting mechanics, accomplished level design, and even a deep story mode. The "Dead or Alive" franchise has not just been resuscitated, it has been rebooted entirely with new mechanics, new online features, and new degrees of style. The result is an accomplished fighting game that doesn't feel nostalgic in any way. The "DoA" reboot works nearly as well as the beloved return of "Mortal Kombat" last year, proving that there's life left in a series that many people had considered knocked out.

The key to the success of "Dead or Alive 5" is in the character design and the attention to detail in the fighter animations. There's a remarkable amount of variety in the design that distinguishes the fighters in unique, captivating ways. Not only can you choose from a nice variety of fighting styles but the array of techniques makes for a game that keeps itself fresh from fight to fight both online and in story and arcade modes. As you get better and better at "Dead or Alive 5," you'll have to not only master your own combat techniques but adjust your strategy based on the style of your opponent.

"Dead or Alive 5" features an expected amount of modes like Online, Story, Versus, Arcade, Survival, Training, and Time Attack. There is room for a little improvement here if Tecmo Koei gets to producing a part 6 before 2019. First, the Story makes for a nice variety of gameplay but the screenwriting and voice work are downright horrendous. This is lower level than most Saturday morning cartoons. I also had some difficulty connecting to online fights on launch day although I suspect that will be corrected as servers are upgraded and patches are installed.

Ultimately, every occasional issue that I had with "Dead or Alive 5" (some awkward graphics, inconsistent opponent A.I., etc.) was off-set by something that just made me smile. In particular, the level design is incredibly fun from fighting in a ring of a circus to in the middle of a war. Many of the levels can be engaged with via combat as well. I particularly love the level on a raft that can be disengaged from its mooring and sent down a river.

Graphics & Sound

The characters are fantastically designed with a wide variety of costumes that can be unlocked by completing different modes even if some of the backgrounds could have used a bit more detail. The game isn't going to win any awards for graphics but the tongue-in-cheek style is consistent throughout and a lot of fun. The audio is less accomplished as much of the same banter is repeated too many times throughout and the voice work is pretty bad.

Overall

Dead or Alive 5

Dead or Alive 5

Image © Tecmo Koei
After the fourth game and the awful Hollywood adaptation, most of us assumed that the "Dead or Alive" franchise was over. Proving yet again that you can never count out a beloved series from finding life, "Dead or Alive 5" is one of the most straight-up fun fighting games of the year. The genre may be overcrowded but there's room for one more.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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