Game: Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate Developer: Team Ninja Publisher: Tecmo Koei Release Date: Out Now Available On: PS3/360 Version Played: PS3
Dead or Alive 5 goes from laughable to bizarre, and the storyline never seems to make sense, nor be taken seriously. After the success of Mortal Kombat, I had hoped that fighting games COULD tell a semi-coherent story, yet, here we are with Dead or Alive 5. The prospect of the Dead or Alive Tournament is what groups the characters together, told out of chronological order, with sideplots and strangely confusing jumps from one event to the next, while the ongoing threat of clones and Alpha-152 occupies Kasumi and co. Old favorites return, such as father-daughter combo Bass and Tina Armstrong, or my personal favorite, Ryu Hayabusa, and it’s impressive to note how recognizable they have become. That said, the story is a complete wash, and I blew through the 70 stages in record time.
Despite producer Yosuke Hayashi’s promise to tone down the sexuality, it remains blatant here. Sex sells, it really does, but I’m starting to feel uncomfortable with the unrealistic presentation of the women (and men) in this game series. It’s juvenile and it’s AIMED at a younger audience, and its giving them unrealistic expectations of how real women should be. It’s an almost pornographic nature and it’s a shame that this series is 100% selling this, and its clear that they have no notion to change. Maybe I’m just causing a storm for no reason or maybe I’m just trying to up my word count, but I believe that a better message could be sent to gamers. I noticed how when they did alpha testing that players requested even larger proportions of breasts, but maybe I’m thinking they should test outside of Japan…
In terms of performance, the DOA engine runs very well, and Ultimate is polished to near perfection. Bugs and glitches have been ironed out, the FPS is very smooth and the animations are incredible. Each fighter has a unique fighting style, and it’s mindboggling to see how much effort went into the amount of comboes and different moves for each character. You really feel the differences between each fighter, and the pros/cons that go with them. DOA5 wasn’t about innovation, it was about perfecting. Team Ninja really pulled all the stops for this one.
Gameplay is the crux of the fighting genre. An insane amount of balance and tweaking has been done for this installment, and DOA5U is the most polished entry yet. It’s all about strikes, holds, throws and counters, and it’s an incredibly deep system that pays out in spades. Button mashing will only get you so far. Like many of the superior fighting and action games, taking a precise and methodical approach to fights will let you walk away the winner. The timing and strength of counters have been tightened (one of the main complaints of DOA5), and the precise nature of hitting full combos is incredibly difficult, yet satisfying to pull off. DOA has always focused on a more fast paced style of combat, chaining together combos of increasing lengths, while maintaining a balance between offense and defense, the old saying ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ remains true here.
Ultimate comes with 4 new characters, more than twice the amount of costumes (114 to 231), a huge overall cleanup of bugs and known exploits, new modes and new offensive gameplay features. Needless to say there’s a wealth of content, and this truly is the ‘Ultimate’ version of Dead or Alive. Tag team battles make for a return, and now feature online as well. The arenas feature an insane amount of destructive aesthetics, both interactive and non, and it’s just a blast to fight in a steadily crumbling battlefield.
The animations are a delight to watch. Every fighter has a unique fighting style, and you can just tell between them. Each fighter has their own moves, their own combos, and even if some of them share the same button inputs, they will look different enough to be unique. The whole thing comes together nicely to form some of the most fluid and better looking fights I’ve seen in the genre, and the faster and harder the fights get, the more you realize how ineffective button mashing and repeating similar moves becomes, forcing you to change up and vary your combos. DOA5U offers some of the smoothest, fastest and entertaining fights I’ve seen this side of 2013.
All in all, it comes down to a matter of value. If you already invested in DOA5, I don’t see enough to justify buying the Ultimate version unfortunately. Spending the full 80 bucks for DOA5 then another 60-70ish for this version isn’t worth it. Despite the bevy of improvements, the tightening of gameplay and ironing of glitches+additional modes and costumes, I have trouble recommending it to people who already spent money on the vanilla DOA5.
However if you’re someone itching to play a fast paced fighting game, and you don’t mind the blatant childishness and immaturity of the presentation of women and men in a game that clearly will never grow up, I do recommend giving Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate a shot.