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PS3 Video Game Review: Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate



“Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is the best “Dead or Alive” fighting game made so far! While I do recommend the latest incarnation of this game, its list of improvements over last year’s “Dead or Alive 5” is not groundbreaking and the fact that DOA5 owners can’t upgrade to DOA5 Ultimate via DLC is unfortunate. But if you area DOA fan, “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is an enjoyable game and I definitely recommend it!

Images courtesy of © 2013 TECMO. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate

TYPE OF GAME: Fighting

PLATFORM: Sony PS3 and XBOX 360

PSN DOWNLOAD SIZE: 6GB (two files need to be downloaded)




RELEASE DATE: September 3, 2013

DEAD OR ALIVE 5 ULTIMATE heightens the signature DOA fighting style with the inclusion of new modes from DOA5 Plus, dynamic new stages, and deadly new fighters to deliver the ultimate in fighting entertainment. Players will take on the roles of their favorite DEAD OR ALIVE fighters – as well as combatants new to the franchise – in an intense, action-packed brawler set in visually striking locations from around the world. The famed DOA hand-to-hand combat is enhanced with new content that extends the experience. Along with a rich array of single-player modes including story mode, DEAD OR ALIVE 5 ULTIMATE offers online options with arcade-style matches, tournaments, and social features making it the most definitive DEAD OR ALIVE experience to date.


In 2012, the release of “Dead or Alive 5” was highly anticipated as it had been 15-years since the release of “Dead or Alive” to be followed by “Dead or Alive 5+” for the PlayStation Vita. But a year later after the release of the first game, “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” for the PS3 and XBOX 360 has now arrived and not only is it a much better game than the original, it features five additional characters plus enhanced tag team mode and more!


Dead or Alive, the 3D fighting video game flagship title from Tecmo and developers Team Ninja has continued to go strong since its introduction back in 1996 when it was first introduced in the arcades and on consoles such as the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation.

Inspired with fighting gameplay similar to AM2’s “Virtua Fighter”, the games would emphasize on fighting mechanics, combos, air-juggles and most importantly, it’s countering system.

During the first game’s initial release, “Dead or Alive” was best known for its characters including Ryu Hayabusa from Tecmo’s “Ninja Gaiden” video game series, the series would also be known for its sexy female fighters and their bouncing breasts. While controversial at the time (note: There were other Japanese fighting games that incorporated the bouncing breasts), it would become the trademark of the series and to be less offensive, “Dead or Alive” would have a clever setting in the options to set an age of a person in order to give less or more bounce. The game would lead to a remixed version and allowed people to open up many unlockable costumes for the characters including remixed stage design and new characters.

“Dead or Alive” would introduce people to Kasumi and her half-sister Ayane, both are rivals. And for Ayane, she despises Kasumi for becoming a traitor to her own clan. While Kasumi, harbors no ill feelings towards her sister. The game would also introduce players to professional wrestler Bass Armstrong and his strict upbringing of his daughter Tina, who would follow in his footsteps.

The original plot of “Dead or Alive” would revolve around the first Dead or Alive Tournament and its main protagonist would be Raidou, Ayane’s biological father and the uncle to Kasumi. It is revealed that Raidou raped Kasumi’s mother Ayame, and Ayane was the daughter from the rape. In the first “Dead or Alive”, Kasumi was the winner of the tournament as she killed her father. It was revealed that Bayman would kill DOATEC chairmen, Fame Douglas and that Bayman was working for Donovan.

By 2000, with the release of “Dead or Alive 2”, Tecmo would introduce interactive stages and also showcase tag team mode. Released for the Sega Dreamcast and Sony PlayStation 2, another remake of the game titled “DOA2: Hardcore” was released and would be an update over its more inferior Dreamcast version and the game . But the second game would receive one more tweak in 2004 along with the Sega Saturn version of the first game which was released on the XBOX with the title “Dead or Alive Ultimate” featuring a new character named Hitomi and also online mode.

The plot for “Dead or Alive 2” would feature a storyline of the chaos that had taken place in the world since the death of Fame Douglas, the sponsor of the “Dead or Alive” World Combat Championship. And now a new person who is corrupt and evil has announced the “Dead or Alive Championship 2” tournament.

The main antagonist would be Dr. Victor Donovan who is responsible for the death of Fame Douglas. As the later of DOATEC’s anti-Douglas faction and head of the Development Department, he created a state-of-the-art military fortress where Project Alpha and Omegas were developed. For Project Alpha, he created a Kasumi Clone (who would be one of the bosses) known as Kasumi Alpha. But also featured is the evil Tengu who has escaped from the Tengu World into the human world to create chaos and rule the world.

In 2003, the third “Dead or Alive 3” would be released as an XBOX exclusive was a minor update from “Dead or Alive 2” but featured longer counters and less emphasis on juggling combos. The game would also introduced four new characters.

The plot of “Dead or Alive 3” features the aftermath of Ryu Hayabusa stopping Tengu, but the Tengu of Destruction lead to a dense cloud covering the whole planet in darkness. The corporation known as DOATEC has lead to the development of Omega Project: Project Alpha and Project Epsilon, courtesy of Dr. Victor Donovan.

Victor plans to create a superhuman known as Omega, based on Genra, leader of the Hajin Mon ninja clan and foster father of Ayane. Meanwhile, Dr. Donovan kidnaps Fame Douglas’ daughter, Helena (who would inherit the position to become DOATEC’s new chairperson). Helena is challenged by Donovan to win the third DOA tournament in order to gain her freedom. Bayman seeks revenge for Donovan for using him to assassinate Fame Douglas. It is also revealed that Hayate, brother of Kasumi and Ayane was subjected to experiments by Donovan for his Project Epsilon and that Project Omega, was an augmentation of Ayane’s foster father Genra into becoming the ultimate DOA fighter known as Omega.

In 2005, “Dead or Alive 4” was released for the XBOX 360. The game would feature 22 characters (including new characters Kokoro, Eliot and Lisa plus an unlockable character, “SPARTAN-458” from the “HALO” series) and feature six game modes including “DOA Online”. All moves were updated and tweaked and also become the first main series game to be rated M for Mature.

The game would feature Helena becoming the new DOATEC chairperson, while Donovan was working Kasumi clones for DOATEC as part of Project Alpha, a project to create the perfect fighter. The original Kasumi clone known as Kasumi Alpha has now been turned into the evil Alpha-152, the ultimate DOA fighter.

Which lead us to…


“Dead or Alive 5” is the first DOA game to be released via multi-platform since the second game back in 1999. Developed by Team Ninja minus “Dead or Alive” creator Tomonobu Itagaki, the new game would be directed by Yohei Shmbori.

The fighting game would feature 25 characters. 18 characters from the “Dead or Alive” universe and would introduce new characters Rig and Mila but also feature Gen Fu and Alpha 152 as unlockable characters. The video game will also feature three major characters from AM2’s popular “Virtua Fighter” fighting video game series, Akira Yuki, Sarah Bryant and Pai Chan.

The story of “Dead or Alive 5” takes place two years since the last “Dead or Alive 4” tournament. Despite the destruction of the DOATEC TriTower HQ, despite the dissoution of the DOATEC Biotechnology Division and the Projects Alpha, Epsilon and Omega that Dr. Victor Donovan had control of and most importantly despite Helena now being the chairperson of DOATEC, it appears that someone is still working on those projects. Who are these individuals?

Meanwhile, Helena plans to hold the fifth Dead or Alive tournament, hosted by Zack, in honor of the rebuilding of a new DOATEC.


Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate

For “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate”, the game now adds five more characters which include “Virtua Fighter” character Jacky, “Ninja Gaiden” characters Momoji and Rachel and “Dead or Alive 4” characters Leon and Ein.

The story remains the same as “Dead or Alive 5” which is one major storyline and you can’t choose which character to play but you get to experience all fighters. But that is where arcade mode comes in and one can play solo or play Tag Team. While there is no upgrading from “Dead or Alive 5” to “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate”, the game does reuse your save, so you don’t have to play storymode or try to unlock every clothing item again. In fact, the last game ofered 114 costumes iwth the game, “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” will come with 231 costumes. Players will need to compete and win to unlock the entire section.

Ultimate also offers more in terms of character animations especially in Tag Team (Arcade), pair Hitomi and Leifang, Lisa Hamilton (or her wrestling luchadora persona “La Mariposa”) or Tina Armstrong, Ayane or Eliot, there are opening and ending sequences that allow interaction, otherwise pair people who don’t match or have no relationship and only the character that you played, actually does the speaking while the other just stands there.

There is a more intuitive training mode, for those who want to learn all the moves for the characters but also the inclusion of “Power Launcher” for juggle combos. Online mode also adds Team Battle and a slight variation of trophies in which 50% of them should be quite easy for most people to achieve, while the other 50% requires more time spent online (such as fight 1,000 matches) and on training mode (complete everyone move which is difficult).

But the biggest addition and for those who want to try the game is “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate: Core Fighters”. A free download (a little over 3GB) which allows people to play four characters: Kasumi, Ayane, Hayabusa and Hayate and the option to pay and download additional characters. While you can pay to own more characters, you’ll save money in the long run by purchasing the entire game (there are two download files available on PSN which include the Core Fighters and the DOA5 Ultimate which is about 6GB and can be need to be downloaded on PSN).





Gameplay modes are a slightly different this time around for “Dead or Alive 5”.


Story mode is no longer playing a single player for their storyline. Now, it features a chronicle story mode that features every character and duration of this storymode takes about 4 hours. In the beginning, you can select two types of modes for casual gamers or those who are very good at fighting games.

As for the story, while the main story focuses on the Dead or Alive 5 tournament, there is also an underlying story of someone continuing the project of Donovan. Other storylines revolve around one wanting to win the tournament or wanting to find someone and fight them.

While each character’s storyline tend to have a connection with others. Story mode features anywhere around three matches or more with each character. There are missions that optionally can be played that requires you to pull of a move 1-3 times (which gets more difficult as you progress). Missions include, throwing someone while in crouch mode three times or blocking a hit three times.



ARCADE MODE: Arcade is a mode where you can play a character and take on other characters. By beating the game with that character, you unlock new costumes and titles. There is Solo or Tag Team mode. The latter which is the best to use if you want to unlock one character’s clothing easily. During your match on arcade mode, the game will also alert you if someone had sent you a challenge/throw down (a blue symbol on the bottom right corner) or a chance to level up by going against a competitor online (via red symbol on the bottom right). You can turn the throw down alerts off for either solo or tag team modes if needed.

VERSUS MODE: You choose who you want to fight. Fight with a friend via solo or tag, up to four people can play.

TIME ATTACK MODE: How many characters can you beat in the shortest amount of time.

SURVIVAL MODE: Fight as many characters per stage (10 characters per stage). If you lose, game over.

TRAINING MODE: With a lot of moves, you can utilize the training mode to not only learn moves but open achievements. Ultimate now includes free training, command training, tutorial and combo challenge.

ONLINE MODE: You can fight against anyone around the world via a simple match which you can start fighting immediately, a ranked match, lobby match and enable spectator mode to chat with other players.

Online training mode now offers 2 vs. 2 tag mode. Players can also battle in ranked tag matches in order to become #1 in the world rankings. Separate from solo matches, in tag matches Grade Points (GP) are earned for both team members with each win counting as two toward unlockable costumes.

DOA players can now attain the new “Prize Fighter” ranking. Four different ranks can be earned by winning consecutive ranked matches: Bronze Fighter, Silver Fighter, Gold Fighter and Platinum Fighter. Prize Fighters can earn extra Grade Points with wins and those who defeat another Prize Fighter receive a GP bonus. Grade Points have been updated to now allow for players to earn up to Grade U from S+. Bonus GP’s are rewarded when fighters move to the next grade level.

Also added to online competition is “Character Points” (CP) which displays a player’s skill level with each character. With the inclusion of CP, players can check if they are using their best character and see where they place in the world ranking.

Tecmo also made improvements to online mode enhance gameplay and provides a smoother experience regardless of a player’s network connection and also cutting search times to find opponents ranked matches and unranked throw downs.

EXTRAS: Now on Ultimate, one can be a spectator and watch a matchup online, take photos for your album, watch accessed movies from story mode or arcade, see your fight record and assign title(s) for your character during online matchups.



Controls are similar to previous “Dead or Alive” games. One button to hit, grab or throw a character. The game does include a power attack if you are under 50% health and knock them out (or into) a danger zone (and fall to another part of the stage). But there is a cliffhanger event, in which a character grabs on to an object on the stage before falling out and use it to activate an action sequence.

The game also utilizes a new critical system, such as critical stuns, critical combos and critical bursts. Which definitely affects gameplay and one needing to think quickly of how they would counter if a critical move is performed.

Overall, controls for a character in “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” are quite smooth during gameplay. I was pretty impressed of how responsive the characters were. The more difficult holds takes a while to get down especially the critical system, but the tutorial mode will help you through that.

During Online Mode, most matches went very well, surprisingly I did not have any significant lag of the many games I have played both DOA5 and DOA5 Ultimate, very few matches in which I had any experience with lag.



The graphics for “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is fantastic! There is a lot of detail in the character models. This is the best I have ever seen of Kasumi, Ayane, Hayate, Tina, Zack and others. When you fight, the characters get grimy and dirty, they also sweat and you can easily see the drips of sweat through their skin or falling towards the floor.

The stage design is also excellent and pleasing to look at. I felt that previous games including “Dead or Alive 4″ felt too repetitive when it came to the arenas. But this time around, with the interactivity of an area and how detail many stages loo, I was very impressed!

If I have to be nitpicky when it comes to graphics, it would be for some of the text in story mode. Even playing on a 51” 1080p TV, the grunge typeface used for the text was a bit difficult to read at times.

As for audio, “Dead or Alive 5” sounds great!

Audio is crystal clear and you can easily change the audio to Japanese or English. Dialogue is easily understandable and while I am used to the Japanese voicework, which is awesome! The English dub is very good. So, fore those wondering if Tecmo provides both vocal soundtracks, they do!

As for sound effects and ambiance, some states are more immersive than others. Especially one stage that involves tanks and artillery being shot out.

Audio in story mode is crystal clear and for the most part, dialogue and music are also very good.

“Dead or Alive” games are known for replay value, due to the amount of costumes given for each character. For completionists, not only will they be playing “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” for long periods of time to get all clothing or titles but even the trophies/achievements which one requires one to play up to a 1,000 matches or the new training sections which require quite a bit of a challenge to learn various moves. But because of the online competition, one will want to play the game over and over to master a character or characters in the game, so replay value for “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is high!


Having had a chance to play both “Dead or Alive 5” and “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate”, the latest game in the series is much better than its predecessor. But not a whole lot?

The additional characters, stages and songs are a major plus and they have beefed up the training mode considerably and you get the Power Launcher move in which people can do more juggling combo attacks. But “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” also introduces players who just want to test the game thanks to its free Core Fighters release on PSN.

With that being said, as a new game and not a game that could have been updated via DLC, previous “Dead or Alive 5” players have to purchase “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” and can’t just pay to download the additional characters. “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is a more enjoyable game with better fight mechanics over “Dead or Alive 5” but previous owners will have to repurchase the game.

With the incorporation of “Virtua Fighter” characters, one would hope Tecmo Koei will someday add accessory or clothing customization. While it’s great to have these unlockable costumes and some that need to be purchased online (which are mostly bikinis and Christmas outfits), people are going to want to see more if they are going to have to repurchase the game for another $39.99. Other upgraded versions of other games did not cost as much and with the fighting game genre so competitive, you really need to stand out. And I believe clothing and accessory customization and more than five characters would be a welcomed by fans.

As a long time fan of the series, one who has put a ton of hours into this series since the game has first came out, “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is the best DOA game made so far! From the look of the characters, how smooth they play and the learning curve to learn other critical moves is impressive!

As a big Helena, Ayane and Kasumi fan, I simply love the gameplay and how I was able to to chain combos and after getting beat after a string of hits, being able to counter right back and just barely win. And it’s one thing to be able to be excited about how smooth the game plays during offline mode, but then going online and taking on many people and seeing how smooth gameplay was online with these characters, I was very pleased!

And on the topic of characters, I love the fact that “Virtua Fighter” characters and “Ninja Gaiden” characters have been added. I’m still waiting for the “Dynasty Warriors” and “Fist of the Northstar” characters hopefully show up but Koei definitely has a characters they can tap into and bring to the DOA universe but also room for many new characters to be created as well!

And let’s discuss the stages. When “Dead or Alive 3” was released, it definitely broke new ground with the multiple level within a level scenery and with “Dead or Alive 4”, while the scenes looked amazingly beautiful on the XBOX 360, for me, the stages were very good and improved in graphics tremendously. But with “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” (and DOA5), I love how different the interactive arena’s were. Some levels could take a good amount of beating or certain move to really knock someone out to another level. Nothing is too easy, you need to learn those stages where as previous games, you pretty much knew that if you can sidestep and knock a character to a certain direction, they were going to fall. But the cliffhanger moves definitely bring some excitement to the stages. But this time around, you really need to figure out the arenas and how to take advantage of the surrounding environments.

Graphically, I love the detail of the stages and how the lighting effects were done. I felt the arena’s in tandem with the beautiful character designs really made “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” such a visually stunning game. Audio was also well-done!

And as the game is visually stunning and gameplay is the best so far in a DOA game, for those who did care about the story of the series, Team Ninja, went all out in crafting a storyline that is much more easier to understand and makes sense than prior games.

To tell you the truth, past “Dead or Alive” games were getting near “King of Fighters” status in terms of storyline forgetfulness. But this time around, because of how the story mode was presented, you know what is going down with each character. And there are some twists and turns in the storyline that make you wonder who is truly “dead or alive”. Is the story much more coherent after playing Story Mode? Well, this is “Dead or Alive” afterall.


So, the big question now is if this game is worth purchasing? The answer is “Yes!”. And the good news is that if you want to try the game, you can download “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate: Core Fighters” on PSN for free and start playing immediately. You won’t have Story Mode but you will be able to utilize four characters and see if the game is worth your time.

But what if you owned “Dead or Alive 5”? The answer is also “yes” but also depending on how important the new stages and five extra characters are for you. There is also more added to training mode, new animations, new music and other changes included to online gaming mode.

Unfortunately, there is no DLC to upgrade your game or purchase the additional five characters or modes, you simply have to buy a new game and I know this may be disheartening for some, but it’s where a lot of companies are going with their fighting games, albeit it would have been much better if “Ultimate” was offered for a much cheaper price but that is subjective.

Overall, “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” is the best “Dead or Alive” fighting game made so far!

But is “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate” a major step up from “Dead or Alive 5″…slightly. But it’s still an enjoyable fighting game but is definitely in need for newer enhancements, more new characters than the five and beefed up training mode provided for its pricepoint.

Still, I love playing this game and wholeheartedly recommend “Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate”!