Dead or Alive 5 (PS3) Review
Chance Asue / Oct 14th, 2012 No Comments
It’s been more than six years since the last release in the Dead or Alive fighting game series, and it shows with Dead or Alive 5 as we review the Playstation 3 version of the game. Take a step back; when Dead or Alive isn’t being called out for its jiggle physics, fighting game fans criticize it as a shallow fighter with a masher-friendly combo system. The counter system gave it a sense of identity in the arcades, but the ease in which counters were pulled off turned many serious gamers away. Combos were easily interrupted and the computer on higher difficulties could embarrass even the most hardcore. There is, however, a dedicated and loyal fan base for one of the most cinematic and entertaining fighting game franchises.
Everything in Dead or Alive 5 has been polished and tweaked to create a more fluid and balanced experience. With the inclusion of Virtua Fighter characters Akira, Sarah and Pai, along with new characters Mila and Rig, this roster is one of the largest in the series. The individual fighting style of each character are unique and give the player an idea of how best to use their particular abilities. Even in a game with four ninjas from the same clan, no two feel alike. New characters Mila and Rig add fighters specializing in MMA and Tae Kwon Do, respectively. If you don’t fall for one of the character’s personality, you will be able to find a fighting style that not only looks amazing, but can deal massive damage when used to its strengths. The triangle system of strikes, throws and holds is better than ever and can be incredibly rewarding for those who want to spend the time, while still being accessible to casuals and button-mashers alike.
[adsense250itp]Dead or Alive 5 has a built-in Training mode featuring a combo trainer, which lets you pick a fighter and go through their entire move list, one combo at a time. With an easy click of the right stick, the move will be shown to the player and control is then immediately returned. It’s incredibly smooth and helps you see how some of the most difficult moves in the game look, regardless of whether you can pull them off. Even as a veteran, I made sure to spend an equal amount of time with each character in training mode to see what moves had been added, balanced, and, in some cases, removed completely. Not only did this help when it came time to use them in the story mode, but made it easier to predict and counter their next move. This time around, there are more stuns per character that can be used to offset the amount of counters an opponent can attempt. The new Power Blow gives each character a charged, uninterruptable combo that not only deals massive damage, but also sends the opponent flying into the various “danger zones” hidden in each stage.
For those who would rather skip training altogether, the story mode in Dead or Alive 5 uses all of the Dead or Alive characters and gives players the ability to use each in a series of a few fights, bookended by the usual ridiculous cut scenes to string together the larger story before moving on to the next stage with new fighters. Scenes blend straight into fights and hide loading screens, a la Mortal Kombat. Most do little to explain the crazy story, but they are kept short and sweet and the ones featuring Zack will have you either rolling your eyes or laughing out loud. It’s a lengthy mode for a fighter, topping out around 3 hours, and features missions for each fight which add a layer of difficulty to completing them before knocking out the opponent. The missions run the gamut from making a combo of two punches to creating a combo that incorporates strikes, stuns and a power blow. They add a layer of replayability to the story, albeit a thin one.
Besides the Story mode, Dead or Alive 5 features the standard Arcade, Time Attack, and Survival with variable levels of difficulty. Fight replays can be saved and viewed in the theater, and with a single button press, a photo mode can be engaged. Whether you’re fighting, watching replays or taking photos, the game looks incredible. Female fighters have been redesigned to look more realistic. Faces look more lifelike, eyes communicate more emotion, bodies have more believable proportion and the hair and clothing flows realistically. Breasts are still, well, video game breasts, complete with the bounce physics that made the game famous. Clothing can become covered in dirt or become translucent from water and sweat, adding a new layer of realism to the fights. Narrow victories are punctuated by a characters covered in dirt with sweat dripping down their faces, making the victory smiles feel more earned than out of place. Fighters have less costumes than in previous games, which severely decreases the amount of time spent with each fighter and mode. Whether more will be available later as DLC or not remains to be seen, but playing through Arcade on the hardest difficulty to unlock a bikini feels better than paying money for one.
Online returns with a larger set of modes and filters. An unranked match can be filtered to someone near your location with a similar skill level, ranked matches pit you against the world according to your current skill level, and lobbies can be created for friends and players registered to a list for rematches at a later time. Replays can be saved and downloaded for viewing in the theatre and results from matches and tournaments can be posted directly to Facebook. There may be plenty of ways to fight online, but the network code doesn’t seem to be able to handle long distance fights. Even with full signal, some fights are riddled with stutter and lag. Filtering matches to nearby opponents resulted in smoother fights, but they were fewer in number and took longer to find. For those looking to take on the world, a wired internet connection is imperative and the experience should improve through future patches.
The sound in Dead or Alive 5 is the most obvious shortcoming of the game. The English and Japanese voices can be selected and sound fantastic. Punches and kicks sound devastating, while throws and holds make you cringe at every cracking bone. Each stage is filled with explosions, gunshots, roaring crowds, filling each stage with atmosphere and excitement. But all is not well. Menu music is quick to irritate and if you prefer the Japanese to the English voices, the language setting for vocals has to be changed each time the game is started. Akira and Pai from Virtua Fighter have their voices from their countries of origin and lack English tracks completely. Their voices seem to have been lifted directly from Virtua Fighter 5 and sound much more compressed than the rest of the roster. It can be jarring to have one enemy yell in Japanese at you when everyone else is speaking English, but in terms of both development and the authenticity of Virtua Fighter and its characters, it’s understandable as to why they wouldn’t add it in.
Dead or Alive 5 is the best entry in the series. The interactive stages and over-the-top fighting make it a joy to watch even when you’re being destroyed. While you’ll spend less time picking your outfit, the characters look beautiful, are highly detailed and animate silky smooth. Fans of the series will enjoy seeing their favorites with a new coat ofa paint and newcomers will enjoy an approachable fighter with hours of replay value.
tags: dead or alive , Dead or Alive 5 , fighting , ps3 , review