Tecmo Koei’s Team Ninja faltered after losing its leader Tomonobu Itagaki in 2008 with Metroid Other M and Ninja Gaiden 3, but is the third time the charm?
While Team Ninja has stayed true to the formula of Dead or Alive with mostly evolutionary changes, everything’s been spruced up, made better than before. What I first noticed about DOA5 (bouncy physics aside--more on that later) was the slew of great levels in the game. This was an instant positive compared to my memories of Soul Calibur 2 which had only one inspired level. “Home” is a particular favorite of mine, allowing you to smash opponents through walls. The only downside is that almost all the levels are a large square shape, with nothing as unique as the narrow bridge arena of DOA2. However, there is at least more kinetic energy in each one, with tons of bouncing debris that lend a sense of being in a more complete world.
Speaking of bouncing, the series’ signature beauties (and their twins) are still in it and the character models have never looked better. Though I’m sure to the dismay of some, the age slider that adds additional...“physics” is once again missing (sorry Wes). Even without it, Team Ninja’s starting to push against my comfort boundaries, especially during the loss screens where the female fighters assume a bent over position while breathing heavily. It’s all a little much, but then again, I have a wife now and a TV viewable from most angles in the apartment.
But there’s more to the game than just looks, such as the story mode. Normally, this mode is something I skip for most fighting games as they are either absurd or reek of a lack of effort put into them. However, DOA5’s story mode’s--though primarily just a glorified tutorial--is a darn good one. Each fight in the story mode has a bonus mission tutorial, and they continue to show increasingly advanced techniques all the way to the very end. You can either try to complete the tutorial’s goal or simply win the battle and move on. I did experience a glitch through that reverted the game’s voices back to English from my Japanese setting, which was annoying.
The developers really do have fun with the story mode at times, such as in one scene where Brad and Eliot go at it with chopsticks for the last piece of dim sum. Add to that the one-man show that is Zack, who is always inviting fighters into the Dead or Alive tournament, and you’ve got some decent entertainment value. Because the story mode is only about 3 hours long, it doesn’t require a huge time investment and is well worth playing because of the well-executed tutorials.
The new characters, Mila and Rig, fit in well, besides the fact that they may actually outshine the older characters in terms of graphical fidelity. On the other side of the spectrum, Team Ninja’s inclusion of Virtua Fighter characters is well executed and even retain their classic sound effects, making it obvious they’re from a different game. Ironically, they fit in smoothly even with their stiffer VF animation.
There are a lot of entertaining modes in single-player mode, and even an achievement-like title system with over 500 titles to earn. This is definitely one of the better single player experiences I’ve played recently in a fighting game and most importantly, is as fun as ever.
Quick disclaimer: I was only able to play local multiplayer due to my original refurbished 360’s Ethernet port kicking it in.)
Dead or Alive 5 has been a local multiplayer game for me thus far, which of course meant fighting against my long time fighting game “rival” and seeing if the game stood up to our easily waned interests.
Well it passed the rival test as we managed to play at least a couple hours before mixing it up to get slurpees. Tag mode returns from previous games, providing an easy way to mix things up by switching characters mid-match and creating a fairly different fighting experience. In this mode, it’s all about managing health between both of your characters, which also has the side-effect of greatly lengthening each match. There are even some tag throws and combos that can be pulled off only in this mode. And in the true spirit of a fighting game, I managed to see some new moves and surprises later on that I had not seen before.
I only two grievances, and these are basically applicable to most fighting games. First, I wish the default option after a match was character select instead of rematch, as most people I’ve come across want to choose new characters to fight, and the less time that takes, the better. My other nitpick is that the select screen in DOA5 features fully 3D character models which take a noticeable amount of time to load, especially with two people choosing characters, even with the game installed on the PS3. It’d be better if the game loaded a 2D image at least until the 3D model was ready to go.
Super minor issues aside, this game was good enough that I paid standard retail price to give it to my friend for his birthday. As a fighting game and Dead or Alive fan, this latest incarnation has kept me fully satisfied, as I imagine it will for at least the near future.
Developer: Tecmo Ninja
Genre: Dead or Alive 5
Release: September 25, 2012
Available On: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Soul Calibur: Loved. SCIV doesnít count, SCV only counts a bit.
Virtua Fighter 4/5: Liked but didnít really get into it
Super Street Fighter IV: Hadouken!
Smash Brothers: Smashing good time.
Tekken: Never got into