DEAD OR ALIVE 5 REVIEW
More breast meat than KFC.
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Nov 8, 2012 14:15 (Nov 8, 2012 14:15)
Written by: Alex
A new dawn?
"Dead or Alive 5" continues Tecmo Koei’s legacy of breast physics filled fighting. With a fluid combat system and interactive arenas the series has always been a favourite of mine. With the series’ previous development lead, Itagaki, now gone this is Team Ninja’s chance to show that he was not the sole inspiration of the franchise.
As I seem to be receiving the majority of Playdevil’s fighting games, I am always grateful when thought has been put into some kind of story mode. After about two years of playing every new fighter however, I have started to see three clear models of single player/story offering; none, verbose, and expedient. ‘None’ is simply the standard tournament option (sometime bookended with some kind of cut scene), ‘verbose’ goes for lengthy unnecessary explanations, and ‘story’ keep the action moving while adding texture to the experience. DoA5 for the most part falls into the later of these categories. While it layers on the Japanese melodrama at the start with some lengthy cut scenes, it soon builds up a head of steam and moves through its tale at pace. Set along a confusing timeline each character has their time as the lead with their motivations for fighting explored. Some fight to win the DoA tournament, while others are involved in a shadowy battle between a ninja clan and two companies (DOATEC and Mist), tying together events of the previous games. This path through events manages to offer some entertaining context, while also giving all the characters time to shine.
DoA5s story mode also introduces a mission system. This is a simple addition to the standard fighting that requires certain conditions be met. These range from easy to incredibly complex, but completing them is never necessary to continue through the story, with the missions working as a mix of tutorial and additional challenge.
The strong tutorial offerings within the story extend into the training options. First of these is DoA5’s inclusion of mode that requires you execute each of a characters moves in succession. Moves are presented on screen one after another, with the option for an instant demonstration of the current move. It may not be complex, but it is a useful feature that with the less complex move sets of DoA5 proves both informative and satisfying without ever stalling progress.
DoA5 also adds the option to have a short move list constantly onscreen. This displays a number of moves at all times. This works incredibly well due to how the list evolves with each input. Apart from being able to move through the displayed moves using the right thumb stick, it also changes with how you begin each attack. If you tap forward and kick at the same time the move list will instantly turn to moves and combos that continue the chain. Further inputs continue this evolution allowing you to see every attack possible, and how to construct it.
As a result of the tutorial, and a straightforward combat system, DoA5 is incredibly accessible. The basic rock-scissor-paper mechanic (strike-hold-throw), that has always formed the bass of the franchise’s combat, is still in place and continues to make for exciting and changeable fights. Shorter combos also serve to make DoA5 an experience that is easily picked up. Part of this comes from the fact that the so-called ‘Triangle System’ makes everything very reactionary, so the majority of combat is based on speed rather than lengthy combos.
The series’ volatile combat arenas also return in 5. Dead or Alive has always had some of the most interesting arenas, but the fifth instalment really ratchets it up. With a circus filled with attacking tigers, destroyable building sites and the burning streets of Tokyo (I still don't get that one) all making an appearance, the areas not only manage to look great they also bring important positional strategy.
New characters Rig, Mila, and four members of the Virtua Fighter cast, also add new play styles to proceedings. All mesh well with the familiar cast, especially the Virtua Fighter members who slot in perfectly. The only real down side is that the majority of new characters lean towards speed, leaving the fast end of the character pool over weighted. This feel especially unfortunate when playing in tag team mode, as most pairings end up being fast and fast. That said it doesn’t prevent tag being entertaining with a range of tag specific moves and combos available.
Personally I have always enjoyed DoA’s combat. Something about the way characters move makes the action feel more flowing, even when learning. Though lacking some of the depth of other fighters, and feel of the combat goes a long way to making up for what it lacks in complexity.