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PS3 Video Game Review: Dead or Alive 5

“Dead or Alive 5” is the best “Dead or Alive” fighting game made so far! It improves in every category including gameplay, controls, stunning graphics and even delivers an entertaining and comprehensible storyline this time around! As a long time fan of the series, “Dead or Alive 5” is a must-own fighting game for fans of the series and even those who have never played a DOA game before. “Dead or Alive 5” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 TECMO. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Dead or Alive 5

TYPE OF GAME: Fighting

PLATFORM: Sony PS3 and XBOX 360

PSN DOWNLOAD SIZE: 5.6GB

DEVELOPER: Team Ninja

COMPANY: Tecmo

RATED: M for MATURE

RELEASE DATE: September 25, 2012

DEAD OR ALIVE 5 marries the signature fighting style of the popular DOA series with stunning new graphics, new online features, and new martial arts techniques to create a strong new direction for the franchise.

It has been over 15-years since the release of “Dead or Alive” and now, “Dead or Alive 5” for the PS3 and XBOX 360 is now here! Featuring a more coherent storyline, excellent gameplay and wonderful graphics, suffice to say, “Dead or Alive 5” is the best game in the DOA series thus far!

DEAD OR ALIVE HISTORY

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 now leads us to…

DEAD OR ALIVE 5

“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.

GAMEPLAY:

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

STORY MODE:

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.

FIGHTING MODES:

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.

VERSUS MODE: You choose who you want to fight.

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.

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. Including an Online Dojo where you can practice and train with other characters. Watch Mode allows you to watch replays of your match and take pictures. During my test of online mode, I personally didn’t notice any lag during matches. If you are competing in arcade mode and non-online mode, you will be notified if one challenges you in a match.

CONTROLS:

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 of 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”, control quite smoothly 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.

GRAPHICS:

The graphics for “Dead or Alive 5” 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”, the grunge typeface used for the text was a bit difficult to read. But I figure, this may be subjective.

AUDIO:

For the most part, “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 is very good. So, fore those wondering if Tecmo provides both vocal soundtracks, they do!

As for sound effects and ambiance, I would have loved the audio to be much more immersive and surround channels to be used much more. But for the most part, dialogue, music and sound effects are crystal clear and are front-channel driven.

REPLAYABILITY:

“Dead or Alive” games are known for replayability, due to the amount of costumes given for each character. For completionists, not only will they be playing “Dead or Alive 5” for long periods of time to get all clothing or titles but even the trophies/achievements require one to play up to a 1,000 matches.

I’m going to come out and say it… “Dead or Alive 5” is the best “Dead or Alive” game created so far!

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” is fantastic in every category I can think of. From the look of the characters, how smooth they play and the learning curve to learn other critical moves is impressive!

The amount of moves these characters have are quite impressive. As a big Helene, 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 also was shocked that three major “Virtua Fighter” characters were added to the roster. Sure, “Dead or Alive 4” may have seemed cool for “HALO” fans with the addition of SPARTAN-458, but for me, the character really had no place in the DOA timeline. Because I knew that “Dead or Alive” was inspired by “Virtua Fighter” (and also “Tekken”), I was very impressed that three top tier “Virtua Fighter” characters were included. As a fighting video game fan, Akira, Sarah and Pai is not only a big surprise but just the ultimate nod to fighting game fans, and I’m sure in Japan, fans greeted the addition of these three characters with amazing enthusiasm 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”, 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 this time around, you really need to figure out the arenas and how to take advantage of the surrounds. But overall, 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” such a visually stunning game.

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”.

And for those critics who say the game is not a big step from “Dead or Alive 4”, that surprises me because “Dead or Alive 5” improves in every category from it’s fighting mechanics, graphics and overall gameplay. I have to say that the fighting experience this time around compared to the last game is quite significant. I simply love this game!

Sure, If I had to be the most pickiest fighting gamer and what I wished was included in “Dead or Alive 5”, more characters and customization. “Dead or Alive 5” does have many characters at 25 including the added “Virtua Fighter” characters but in terms of original characters, there are only two, Rig and Mila (excluding Alpha-152). For a newer game, you tend to expect anywhere between four to six new characters. But once again, that’s me being nitpicky.

And in this day and age of modern fighting video games, customization is becoming a necessity for many gamers. “Virtua Fighter” has been able to achieve part of its efficacy through it’s engaging faux tournament battles but also the game’s ability to purchase items and utilize these items to customize and change the appearance of your character. And other fighting games started to incorporate that element. “Dead or Alive 5” would be one game, because of its many characters, that would have been perfect for item customization for its characters and also the ability to change a character’s appearance. I do feel that if “Dead or Alive 5” incorporated that element, it would have made this game close to being perfect!

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

It improves in every category including gameplay, controls, stunning graphics and even delivers an entertaining and comprehensible storyline this time around! As a long time fan of the series, “Dead or Alive 5” is a must-own fighting game for fans of the series and even those who have never played a DOA game before.

“Dead or Alive 5” is recommended!