I don’t like most fighting games nowadays. I feel like the genre itself has dug itself into a hole and now just relies on gimmicks like stages with obstacles that get in the way of the fight and making the different character’s moves and combos more and more difficult and convoluted just to name a few. That being said, one fighting game from what will soon be the last generation that I did like was “Dead or Alive 4.” The fighting controls and dynamics were easy to pick up and worked far better than you’d expect and as anyone familiar with the series would know there are, well, other things you can find entertainment from in the series. It was by no means a perfect game but it was fun and overall a great early 360 game since it came out a near month after the release of the console. It was with this thought (and the fact that it was only $15) that I gave “Dead or Alive 5” a shot and while I still liked parts of it, I think Team Ninja has forgotten what makes the series great (besides the almost naked women in it…)
“Dead or Alive 5” tries to put more of an emphasis on story. This is apparent when you delve into the campaign mode and see that it’s got more cutscenes than every other fighting game ever combined. Unfortunately the story isn’t very good because it doesn’t make a lick of sense. Characters fight each other for the smallest of reasons and sometimes for seemingly no reason. There were several instances where the cutscene made it appear as if two characters were getting along fine, only to have the next fight be between the same two characters. When I got to the end, I was so confused. I had no idea how every character’s arcs were connected and what happened to each one, nor what the real significance of the conclusion was. A certain character even dies near the end, only to show up in almost every cutscene that follows. I appreciate that Team Ninja tried to actually make a fighting game with an good story (which is something that seems to never happen) but everything was way too convoluted and the writing (especially the dialogue) was far from good.
Speaking on the technical side of things, “Dead or Alive 5” impresses. Character models are by far the best the series has seen yet and just all around good for a late console era fighting game. While I did rag on the story mode for not having a good story to tell, the cutscene graphics are actually pretty damn good looking. The only issue is that at time the game’s physics and how it reacts with the character’s hair or dresses are kinda wonky. This is a pretty common flaw in most video games and normally I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it but when it’s a game like this where the look makes all the difference I can’t not take off points for it.
On the gameplay side, things are much more frustrating. Gone is the simplistic style of “Dead or Alive 4” and instead it has a much more complicated and annoying fight system just like every other popular fighting game. Thus learning the new mechanics is a pain in the ass, even with the tutorials during the campaign and training mode. Holds and especially throws are a bitch to pull off yet the computer can get them constantly on the harder difficulties. Keep in mind, throws were previously easy as hell to do but now, it just seems like the game is punishing anyone who either doesn’t have a fight-stick or whose brain works as fast as a supercomputer.
The load times are a minor annoyance. They’re long and pop up constantly though you are given the option to install the game to your hard drive. One minor thing I did like though is the cross-play option and how you can get invites to matches while just playing through the story or other offline modes and the near seamless transition (even if some of the online’s connectivity is rather lacking).
I’m sure the dedicated fighting enthusiast will ignore these issues and dive in but I miss when fighting games used to be fairly accessible to casual play. Now that “Dead or Alive” is out, the only game series I can think of that fits that description is the “Smash Bros.” series, the very same series that apparently thinks having the Wii Fit Trainer as a character was in no way an idiotic decision. I still enjoyed playing the game to a point, but it certainly hasn’t improved my outlook on the genre and even the traditional inclusion of Ryu Hayabusa and other “Ninja Gaiden” characters wasn’t really enough to change my mind.
“Dead or Alive 5” gets a 7/10.
*image courtesy of justpushstart.com*
- Dead Or Alive 5: Ultimate Trailer Offers Breasts Aplenty (escapistmagazine.com)
- Teams duke it out in Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate (joystiq.com)
- Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate: Arcade announced for Japan (joystiq.com)
- Tecmo Koei Reveal Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate Packshot (godisageek.com)
- Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate trailers showcase various modes & techniques (vg247.com)
- Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate includes seven-character team battles (vg247.com)
- Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate trailer shows off high-flying ninja battles (polygon.com)
- Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate New Features, Costumes, Pre-Orders And More Detailed (antdagamer.com)
- Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate trailer reurns in extended form (vg247.com)