Dead or Alive 5

This Is Hard. Core.

We take Dead or Alive 5 for a nice long drive.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: October 28, 2012
I want to be upfront about this. The last (and only) time I played a Dead or Alive game was right at the launch of the PlayStation 2 when I grabbed Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore on launch day because there really wasn’t anything else than wasn’t Madden. I probably played a few hours of it before saying “meh” and popping in my PS1 Twisted Metal 2 disc and playing that for the next 192 hours. So I’m coming into this review of Dead or Alive 5 somewhat cold. If you’re looking for an evaluation of the potential of DOA 5 in the tournament scene and how they’ve improved holds and throws from Dead or Alive 4 you should probably look for another review.

This review is for those of you out there who find yourself titillated by Team Ninja and their untamed titties. Because let’s be honest, no matter how much one professes to admire the two-button technique the series uses everyone is here for the gratuitous use of “jiggle physics” that are taken to a new level on modern hardware. It’s fine, you can admit it, we’re all guys here. Despite the departure of series creator Tomonobu Itagaki you’ll still going to find plenty of female fighter none too shy about letting the world see their assets.

Dead or Alive 5 marks the series return to a Sony console after a pretty lengthy hiatus. If you’ve skipped the last few iterations then you might need to be reminded that DOA is based around a rock-paper-scissors motif where the different attacks (strikes/throws/holds) all can be countered by one of the other attacks so if you can anticipate you opponents move you can turn it against him. You won’t find too much in the way of crazy projectile or magical attacks in this world. You will find some badass Power Blows though that can smash people across the screen and through various environmental objects. Almost all the moves can be performed with very simple combos and in the grand scheme of fighting games, DOA5 falls onto the casual Mortal Kombat side of the spectrum.

The story of DOA5 revolves around a conspiracy at DOATEC (really!) and if you play through the lengthy Story Mode (which also acts as a realllllly long tutorial) you’ll find out all sorts of insane details that can only come out of the most twisted sort of minds. Completing the entire mode will teach you even the most advanced techniques and get you prepared to go online where the heart of the game is. If you prefer to run in fear from the online hounds, you can always hit up arcade mode and fight the computer some more in a non-story based arena, battle endlessly in Survival or race the clock in Time Attack. Yawn!

Once you do hop online, you’ll find a great experience. The netcode was always solid for me and there were no shortage of players near my level (Ranked on a S-F scale) in any of the modes I checked out. You can hop into a simple match which doesn’t affect your rating at all if you are just looking to have some fun. If you need to prove your mettle you can jump into ranked matches that are exactly what they sound like. Finally you can get into a Lobby Match, which is the cool arcade experience where up to 16 people are in a lobby and watch 2 players go at it with the winner staying in and the loser heading to the back of the pack to wait his turn. It’s supposed to recreate the classic arcade experience and in many ways it really does.

Over 20 characters are featured in DOA5 which includes almost all of the series regulars and three guest characters from Virtua Fighter who make an appearance to lend a bit of crossover appeal. The graphics are excellent, with the characters being highly detailed with tons of little details and deterioration effects as the fight goes on. Framerates are excellent and even the environments are swarming with great little details.

If there is a serious fault with DOA5 it’s that it doesn’t fit into any one niche very well. The gameplay is definitely geared towards more casual players, but it lacks the cache of games like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter in that same genre. The basic moveset and simple flow of combat mean that serious players find it lacking and are likely to stick with stuff that is more accepted in the tournament scene. With the only real hallmark of the series being character design that is more likely to appeal to adolescent males than anyone else you are left with a game that is hard to recommend. What you’ve got here is a decent game that doesn’t really do anything differently from its own predecessors or its direct competition. It’s always nice to see a series return to the mother console after a hiatus, but there isn’t a lot to get into here if you aren’t already a fan of the series.
The Verdict

It's a return to the PlayStation for Dead or Alive, but not an especially triumphant one. This is a great looking game that fails to separate itself from a crowded field of fighters and relies a bit too much on a tired gimmick.


There is no denying this game looks great. The fighters are superbly detailed and pop with vibrant colors. The stages are richly appointed and complement the models.


The voice acting can be a little grating for some of the characters with over the top stereotypical inflections.


DOA has traditionally featured a simplified control scheme and they still do here. You can feel comfortable pulling off all the moves with just a d-pad on a Dualshock.


You'll find the usual range of modes for both on- and off-line play but nothing out of the ordinary (other than the narrative of the Story mode). The fighting style is rather shallow and you went spend a lifetime mastering this game.