- 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.
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.