PS3 Reviews: Dead or Alive 5 Review

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Dead or Alive 5 Review

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Graphics:

 

8.5

Gameplay:

 

8.0

Sound:

 

8.4

Control:

 

7.8

Replay Value:

 

7.9

Online Gameplay:

 

8.0

Overall Rating:       8.1

 

 

Publisher:

Tecmo Koei

Developer:

Team Ninja

Number Of Players:

1-2

Genre:

Fighting

Release Date:

September 25, 2012

As was the case with Tekken Tag Tournament 2, comfortable familiarity is a key element in Dead or Alive 5. TTT2 tweaked a bit more but for the most part, both new fighters cater to the long-time franchise fans by remaining recognizable while upping the technical ante. Both still feel resistant to newcomers, despite strides taken to better educate the n00bs, but both are perfectly happy with retaining that which made them so popular in the first place. And I respect that.

As everyone remembers, Dead or Alive has routinely been a bastion of top-notch visual presentation. The lines have always been so clean, the animations so fluid, and the coloring and shading always so perfect. And it’s true that the character designs and animations in DoA5 stand out but in other ways, the game shows this franchise's age. The background textures are surprisingly mediocre and although it remains painfully smooth and even pristine, there doesn’t appear to be quite as much detail as one would find in TTT2. But of course, the girls are still awesomely hot. ...no problem for all red-blooded males, I'm sure. ;)

The audio doesn't just suffice; it's borderline impressive. The sharpness and clarity of each strike comes through your speakers beautifully, and the soundtrack – which I actually like, although my expectations were low – kicks things up a notch or two (pun intended). Other elements of the sound category might get a free pass in the eyes of the ardent series fans; voice acting has never been a highlight and it isn’t here, either. But really, with a solid and invigorating music selection and almost flawless effects, that isn’t much of an issue. Besides, such gorgeous ladies don’t need to talk.

It’s easy to make comparisons to the other big fighter, the aforementioned TTT2. And right off the bat, we come to one major discrepancy: Namco opted to ditch the traditional Story Mode in favor of the Fight Lab, which isn’t quite the same thing. But Tecmo has kept the Story Mode in DoA5 and as you might expect, it isn’t exactly well written or well acted, but it works. Helena has taken control of DOATEC, a major corporation that, as far as I can tell, is just a faceless corporation. Still not sure what it does. But hey, it’s celebrating something so here comes a tournament!

And yes, each combatant comes to the tournament for a different – and usually personal – reason, which is perfectly traditional. Just about every fighting game ever made utilizes the same formula and to be blunt, I’m fine with it. I really am. A lot of people might condemn the game for staying too much in the past, but these days, I’m more interested in developers who are in touch with their fans. As I said above, I respect game makers who understand that the fans they’ve accumulated want to play Dead or Alive, not some “modern,” ultimately bastardized version.

Anyway, moving on to a similarity to TTT2, DoA5 also has a tutorial of sorts. It’s part of the Story Mode, too; as you progress, you’ll learn more about how the combat works. You’ll also experiment with different characters, as each fighter has a chapter to explore in the story. The only problem is that towards the end, the tougher tasks assigned to your bout feel like added annoyances; all you really want to do is win the difficult match, and to hell with trying to finish it with a critical burst. Furthermore, much like TTT2, you’re not really told quite enough, which once again makes the learning aspect a little too frustrating.

But the combat itself is fantastic, and appears to be an exercise in traditional, in-depth fighting mixed with a sheer, almost minimalist presentation. The latter emphasizes those great character models and cool effects, while refusing to clutter up the screen with a ton of meters and bars and what-have-you. So even though many of the modes may feel generic (Arcade, Survival, Time Trial, etc.), and you’ve got the standard seven difficulty levels (hell, that’s old-fashioned; remember the seven stars in Street Fighter II?), it’s tough to call out the combat. It appears to be extremely well-balanced.

Basically, you’ve got your punches and kicks in one category, special holds in another category, and the third category consists of throws. As you might anticipate, one category neutralizes another; if your opponent is trying to hold you, execute a series of blows and combos. Chaining normal strikes together still inflicts the most amount of damage, while holding and throws can often be great counters and defensive maneuvers. There was a time when counters were more important in this series, but now they feel as if they’re better implemented and don’t take center-stage as they once did.

Then there’s the addition of the new critical burst and the power blow, each of which can leave your opponent off-balance and very much at your mercy. Critical bursts make combos last longer but more importantly, they cause your opponent to become dazed. During this time, you can’t be held and you can finish off the combo with deadly accuracy…you know, provided you’ve got it down. This game takes practice, remember. The power blow can only be used once per round and only when you’ve dropped below 50% health; it’s the flashiest of all the moves in DoA5, as it’s very cinematic and ends with a massive environmental bash-attack that’s quite the crowd-pleaser.

One of the reasons you have to practice, however, is due to that sheer presentation that focuses so keenly on the fighters and the action. At first, it’s difficult to tell if you’re even executing a combo after successfully performing a critical burst. Furthermore, because holds are almost purely used in a defensive mindset, the timing required involves a certain amount of experience. Then, at the end of the day, you realize that you still can’t bypass learning the more complex combos because ultimately, mastering them will allow you to win the majority of your matches. In this, there may be a slight balancing issue.

I do like the “danger zones,” parts of the environment that can cause you a big problem if you aren’t careful. They’re not overused and they add some flair to a game that already has an abundant supply. Beyond that, this is DoA, plain and simple, and some will complain that it’s too “plain.” Maybe Tecmo really hasn’t done enough with this series over the years, and maybe it feels a little too familiar, even for the fans. But I maintain that most will enjoy this new effort and on top of which, the online component seems to work just fine. Just make sure you’ve got a decent connection (denoted by a five-star ranking) so there's no irritating lag.

Dead or Alive 5 is, to be precise, a game without any identity issues. It knows what it is, it knows its fans like it that way, and it doesn’t want to change too much. The tutorial part really isn’t all that great, and a lot of it might make you go, “been there, done that,” but DoA is DoA. Plus, we’ve got some new mechanics that really work quite well, the environmental stuff is cool (if a tad underwhelming), and all your favorite characters are just waiting for you to master their movies. Me, I’ve always been partial to Helena and Hitomi; I still remember owning people in DoA2: Hardcore with Helena…yeah, back when I played fighters more.

The Good: Brilliant character models and beautiful animations. Crisp effects and a kickin’ soundtrack. Rock-solid combat that feels quite balanced. Plenty of depth without intrusive meters. Online multiplayer works well.

The Bad: Background textures are subpar. Tutorial aspects lacking. Could spark feelings of déjà vu.

The Ugly: "DoA? Ugly? NEVAH."

9/26/2012 Ben Dutka

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Comments (24 posts)

xenris
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 @ 10:20:16 PM
Reply

This is definitely my favourite Dead or alive game to date. Its much more balanced that the other ones and I like the character roster.

My only complaint is sometimes it feels like there is input delay of sorts but that is only because I'm used to VF5 which is just about the most responsive game I have played.

On the topic of Virtua Fighter another plus is that this game plays a lot like it so it makes me like it even more. The one thing that keeps me playing Doa and not just sticking with VF5 is the tag mode. I just really like how smooth it is in this game. I enjoy the tag fighting in this more than TTT2 :
All in all good game and a good review.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 @ 10:30:45 PM

Yes, I feel it's the most balanced, too. And the reason Control scored below an 8 is due precisely to that perceived input delay...I didn't mention it in the review because I was afraid it was just me. :)

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Knightzane
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 @ 10:28:37 PM
Reply

I played this at my friends house on the 360 and good god are the graphics bad. I swear the demo i got with my NG3 pre-order looked better than the actual game. Still fun though, just didn't think the graphics would look so... 2009?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 @ 10:31:07 PM

The characters themselves are great. It's the backdrops that screw things up. And the special effects are too gorgeous to ignore.

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xenris
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 10:15:13 AM

I wouldn't say the graphics are bad, but when Virtua Fighter 5 which is a 5 or 6 year old game looks comparable well...we have a problem :P

I'm with Ben on this one, characters look great, but there are some really low looking textures I noticed especially in some of the story cutscenes. I think the effects are great though, one level has cherry blossoms falling and it does look pretty spectacular.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 @ 11:00:09 PM
Reply

Sounds like exactly what I'm expecting, I just wish DOA had a character creator like Soul Calibur so I could make my own ladies. My copy should be showing up tomorrow and I can't wait to dig in, I hope there's lots of stuff to unlock in there.

Are the danger zones like they were in the first DOA? If so that's an interesting way to bring back an old element.

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xenris
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 10:20:55 AM

There are danger zones yeah. Some of them are pretty crazy like...you get hit with a missile strike. Of course you can turn these off if you want a pure fighting experience.

I also miss the creation mode in DOA games. Even if they just let you modify the characters like in Tekken or VF5 that would be amazing.

So far I am unlocking titles like crazy, not sure what they do really. Otherwise I have unlocked 2 characters and some costumes. Don't know how much is hidden in here, hopefully a decent amount.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 10:46:18 AM

That's what sucks about this DLC oriented generation, not many things are unlockable anymore because they force you to buy them instead.

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xenris
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 12:18:13 PM

I know. I really loved old games on the PS2 that just crammed so many unlockables on the disc.

On the plus side, I think they said no DLC characters for DOA5 so that is at least promising. But I have a feeling we will see bikinis and other skimpy outfits in the near future.

The Preorder bonus from gamestop had three bunny bikinis I think. If you go to gamefaqs and check out the cheats there are some customization options when you pick your character, like holding down certain buttons puts glasses on certain girls etc. Check that out when you get the game.

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Vivi_Gamer
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 12:09:40 AM
Reply

Breasts aside I have always respected the DoA series, the gameplay mechanics focused around countering was always strong one. I have thought this ever since the first game on the PS1. Mind you I think it was DoA2 on the Dreamcast where the series really hit off. Even as a long time Tekken fan I would take this over the juggling that has infested modern Tekken - I really would. So as I have not bought a fighter since Tekken 6... I'll consider it...

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Temjin001
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 2:19:02 AM
Reply

Ive spent about 3 hours with the game so far. While I really enjoy it and think its a worthy DOA I'm still coming to grips with the lower quality Team Ninja. Gone is the high production cg FMV from last Xbox entries. Oddly, it seems weird too that there's no Aerosmith. The graphics leave some to be desired. I nearly forgot what aliasing issues were this gen until now haha. And the textures can be muddy and poor, which is strange because Team Ninja had amazing texture work in DOA4. BUT many other elements are clearly improved.. The faces are way better and the polygonal build of all the models are clearly improved over past DOA's, especially cloth and hair. It's also nice just seeing cast shadows and a lighting model that is much enhanced over Doa4. I sort of miss the more bright and anime colors. The animation is still real solid. I love that the counter holds are much more distinct in their animation so a player can more clearly tell the level their opponent is trying to counter at. I really like that they put a lot more effort into telling DOA's retarded story. This is something I thought needed to happen a long time ago. Some stages are ultra awesome, like the water raft one. Other stages kind of suck. I dunno. It's good stuff and I'll play it forever. I'm just still trying to get used to a Team Ninja without Itagaki and many of its key members.

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xenris
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 10:17:38 AM

Yeah I agree with what you're saying. Do you notice a bit of input delay? I said it in my post but my main draw to DOA is the tag mode. If VF5 had this..I wouldnt need another fighter ever lol.

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Temjin001
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 6:35:05 PM

input delay or lag is a naughty PC-centric word. In Playstation console world this coverts to "weighty" (Killzone 2) controls. It makes it more realistic this way =p

I can tell Akira's timing is different for certain coming over from VF5(argh and what did they do to his nose and face?). It's nothing major, just different, nothing I can't adjust to. VF is definitely tighter in play, as it is over any 3D fighter I've played, especially Tekken. Tekken is much more loose feeling than VF.

btw, playing via wireless DS3 does increase a few ms of lag. I usually use a fight stick through a direct USB connection. Tightens things up this way, too ;)

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xenris
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 7:33:59 PM

Nice, I will make sure to plug in the controller next time. All I meant was it felt slightly delay from when I was pushing the button, but waaay less than tekken tag 2 felt for me. I'm sure if I play it enough it will go away I'm just used to the slickness of VF :P

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Temjin001
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 8:13:24 PM

I don't sense anything unusual myself.

On a related note, DOA's average fast move is slower than VF. FOr example, while both operate on 60/60 clock, the average quick jab in DOA ranges from like 9(Kasumi) frames all the way up to 15 frames(Bass). The character select screen shows a speed rating to give you an idea for this, too.

This is pretty neat, actually. VF's character clock the standing quick jab at either 11(Kage) or 12, no matter how big and heavy the character is.


Definitely go into training and turn on the move detail for frame data. I LOVE THIS FEATURE!

btw, I'm not sure if the DS3 will defer to USB if it's plugged in. It may just be a charge cable, nothing more. The difference btw is really really small ;)

ANyone know if there's a way to SHUT OFF that annoying online match invite? Every time a challenger is about to connect the entire game HALTS for a split second. THis is very annoying. I'm tempted to disable PSN while I play solo =(

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 2:32:04 AM
Reply

People still play fighting games? I consider myself a gamer but I've never been able to get into these types of games outside an arcade.

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Oxvial
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 3:47:19 AM

I'm more impressed with the people that still play current FF games...okay just joking ;D

Yes there are still people doing them and even 2D ones like Persona 4 Arena, Arcade was always the cool thing to do with them and the console versions were the way to train alone or with my circle of friends in order to own other dudes on the Arcades, sucks that there's barely Arcade sites now on my city.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 10:49:19 AM

You just have to pretend you're in an arcade having old school fun again.

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Temjin001
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 7:19:30 PM

THey sure do. YOu haven't noticed SF x Tekken, TTT2, VF5: FS and now DOA5 this year alone?
Remember Mortal Kombat and Soul Calibur and UMvsC last year?

People win money at this stuff, too ;)

http://www.tkplayers.com/Home/tabid/41/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/352/DoA5-Launch-Event-Tournament-Results.aspx

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MadPowerBomber
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 5:10:47 AM
Reply

I like this review 'cause you used the word 'bastardized'.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 10:48:24 AM
Reply

Did they add English voices this time? Can I leave them on Japanese if I so choose?

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Arvis
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 2:58:12 PM
Reply

I missed the part where VF characters joined the roster. When did that happen?

Anyone know why this is M-rated? For the boobies?

-Arvis

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 4:17:49 PM
Reply

Damn, Amazon sent me one with a busted up plastic case. That's not cool.

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Temjin001
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 6:36:11 PM

Here;s a trick, Grab a case from a less loved PS3 game and swap out the innards. It'll have that new game shiny feel for longer.

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