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REVIEW | Dead or Alive 5

By
Posted on September 25, 2012 AT 12:00am

DOA 5 KasumiEvery time I get a new video game in my hands it feels like Christmas morning and somehow Santa realized I was amazingly good this year (all things considered, of course). This time around, I got my hot little hands on a copy of Dead or Alive 5 developed by Team Ninja and published by Tecmo Koei Games.

Dead or Alive 5 – a.k.a DOA 5 – is the latest installment in the multi-platform franchise. I first started playing DOA games in 1998 when it was released in the U.S. on the Playstation. I had fallen in love with DOA during a visit to a small arcade while home on holiday break, and being a broke college student at the time all I could do was dream about one day having a Playstation 2 and owning the game. As time went on, I came to own DOA, DOA 2: Hardcore, DOA 3, and DOA 4 – and almost all of which on were on different platforms. (I miss you, Sega Dreamcast.)

When it comes to video games, Fighters have always had my heart. For me, they are easy to pick up and play at a moment’s notice, and games that spur fun and healthy competition among friends. Just about everyone is even when they first pick up a fighting game, it’s one of the main reason I gravitate toward them. As you continue exploring a fighting game and playing with the various character types, you start to develop some skills, a sense of comfortability with certain character types, and inevitably, the desire to be better each time you pick up the controller. At least, that’s what a good fighting game inspires you to do and, for all the hype about bouncing, sweaty boobies, this outing from Team Ninja is a breath of fresh air.

I’m a Fighter, Who Are You?

DOA 5 features a sizable roster of playable characters – 24-ish and counting as of this writing – all of whom vary in fighting style. From the Hajin Mon ninjutsu of kunoichi Ayane, to the Jeet Kune Do of Jann Lee, to the pro wrestling (grappling) style of Tina Armstrong, and everyone’s favorite drunken master-style courtesy of Brad Wong, there is a character to fit nearly every type of player. Like to play games fast and loose? Blocking not your thing? There’s a character for that. Christie.
DOA 5 ChristieHer snake-fist style Shequan is quick, damaging, and allows a player to counter-strike an opponent effectively if they watch their foe closely. Want to play it cautiously?  There’s a character for that too. Bayman – he’s one of your close quarters fighters, and one of the few characters in the game who can hold offensively as well as defensively. Many a time has my ass been handed to me during online play by someone who knows what he’s doing with this guy. I could go on and on (at least 22 more times) but I won’t. Just trust me when I say that you’d be hard-pressed not to find a character in this game who doesn’t fit your own personal style of play. It just might take you more than 20 minutes to figure that out.

What’s It All About

The DOA franchise is infamous for having hyper-sexualized female characters which overshadowed the deep counter/defense system of the games. While the pyramid of priority has not changed (holds are greater than strikes, strikes are greater than throws, throws are greater than holds), because the game moves at a faster pace with environments that play a much more active role in the players’ health, mastery of this pyramid and your own timing will be key in completing the various solo gameplay modes.

Unlike your Mortal Kombat‘s and Tekken‘s of the world, button-mashing will get you only so far my friends. Neglect the pyramid and the power of a timely block and be prepared to see the words, “You Lose” a lot. Never fear, DOA 5 features both an offline (you versus the computer AI) and online (you and an online buddy) training mode to help you master counters, blocks, timing issues and even Ryu Hayabusa’s devastating Izuna Drop. (It’s a whole bunch of circles. Sounds easy, right? HA! I say, saying, “HA!”)

DOA 5 Jann Lee and LeifangThe game keeps one of my more favorite modes of play, the tag match, back and in full glory. My favorite tag mechanic – tag combos, where you and your tag partner team up to deal double damage to one of your opponents characters – has received a bit of an update as well. Tag combos still deal a great bit of damage when they connect, but more combos are available as you pair up characters. Finishing off a nice combo-hit series with a combo hold that connects will tickle the kid inside you and make you giggle with joy. Every once in a while I’ll pull off a tag-combo hold that makes me want to talk smack to someone, and as I start to yell, “DAYUM SON!” aloud, I realize I’m by myself, no one is listening to me, and I should shut up before the neighbors call the cops on me.

That’s how much fun I’m having.

5 Is The New 1

DOA 5 Virtua Fighter Crossover Character Sarah Bryant

You don’t have to be a fan of the franchise to follow along with the story of this game. While each of the DOA outings has featured a storyline or plot of some kind, anyone entering the DOA world with this title will find that the Story Mode in DOA 5 provides more than enough character exposition for the player to grasp what’s been going on through the past few games. The only piece that will be a stretch is the inclusion of a few of Sega’s Virtua Fighter iconic characters in the game, including my favorite, Sarah Bryant.

Sometimes you don’t need to know why something is, just appreciate that it is.

Like I said in the beginning, I love fighters, but more importantly, I love good fighters. I want to work to make my skills better, but need a character than I have some inherent skills with to develop. I want a legit way to beat the computer without having to be cheap – you know, beating them senseless in a corner over and over again. I want a balanced multiplayer experience that allows me to talk some smack with my friends, lets me walk away from it when the day-job calls, and easily pick up right where I left off when I get back. DOA 5 does just that for me. Even though it’s been nearly 7 years since the last fighting DOA title was released on a console, it feels like I only put the controller down and paused the game a few minutes ago, and I like that.

Of course, I’m a fighter.

For solid gameplay, simple to understand but deep combat mechanics, strong stable of characters, unlockables and online/offline modes of play, I give DOA 5 a 5 out of 5.

Dead or Alive 5 standard edition is available today from Tecmo Koei games on the Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms for $59.99 MSRP. The collectors edition which comes with artbook, soundtrack, poster, and swimsuit outfits for the ladies will set you back $20 more at $79.99.

Next week on the ESH Podcast, I’ll share my thoughts on the online modes. I’ll also mention boobies a lot more.

Rochelle has been writing about, talking about, and arguing with anyone who will listen to her about video games –professionally – for more six years. Co-Founder, Designer, and Podcast Co-Host at ElectricSistaHood, Rochelle fancies herself rather geeky. Follow her on twitter @NinJaSistah


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