STAFF REVIEW of Dead or Alive 5 (Xbox 360)

Saturday, September 29, 2012.
by Brent Roberts

Dead or Alive 5 Box art The soul of a warrior may take upon different forms and lead one down different paths, but the fire and passion for victory that burns within is a constant reminder that every warrior must fight in order to achieve their goal. Tempered with both beauty and humility, there are very few moments in time when you can truly experience the unbridled fury of a warrior's spirit. Over the past decade many warriors have taken us down paths of both glory and despair, however, the time has come for one of the most iconic fighting games to return, Dead or Alive 5. Throughout history, very few fighting games have provided the strength and execution to deliver an unforgettable experience both inside and outside the arena and this time, Team Ninja have trained hard to ensure that Dead or Alive 5 will triumph over the competition and rule as the undisputed champion of the fighting game genre. Many fighters rush into battle, and are over eager to prove themselves in battle. Ultimately, in the end, this proves to be their downfall, however after seven years since the fall of DOATECH, Dead or Alive 5 is finally ready to show the world why good things come to those who wait.

One of the largest factors that will determine whether or not a fighting game can stand on its own two feet or get knocked out cold is the play control. Some games offer a direct system for controls, so if I were to say to you, "Perform a sho-ryu-ken" or "Do Scorpion's spear attack" you would instantly know what to do thanks to a very direct fighting system. Then there are those games that offer such an in-depth system of movement, fighting, and more that mastering such techniques requires almost as much discipline as mastering the actual martial art, and this is the category that composes the control of Dead or Alive 5. Early on, Dead or Alive 5 will be quite simplistic to just pick up and play, however, if you want to prove you're the best, then you must devote weeks, if not months (and maybe a controller or two) to the stick breaking training you will need to navigate in order to prove your worth in the DoA ring.

Such complexity can even be found in single categories within the controls, for instance, if your opponent does a high punch you have a couple of options for a counter. One option is to push back and press the hold button, but if you want to do more damage you could press forward, up and hold. It doesn't stop there because some holds will allow you to transition right into a combo hold where you can instantly turn the tide of battle in your favor and unleash unholy amounts of damage. All of this though, has to be done within tenths of seconds so this is where all your training will come in handy. Mastering the arts of all the warriors at your disposal will be your greatest challenge of Dead or Alive 5.

When a good fighting game comes out, it usually only carries with it enough content to be considered a worthwhile purchase. When a great fighting game comes out, it usually has a ton of characters and content that will keep gamers hooked for months and hopefully years to come and is considered a first day purchase. Dead or Alive 5 needs to be almost in a class of its own and considered a must have, for any fighting game fan. The amount of content is simply staggering. For starters you have multiple options to begin with. You have your fight menu which allows you to train, fight in time attack or survival mode, and fight either versus or in the arcade. After those five options in the Fight menu, you have your online gametypes which consist of: Simple match - this mode is your basic quick match. Ranked match - where you go when you want to get serious. Lobby match - This is where you can start hosting "winner stays" style tournaments and while the old lobby system is gone, you can still view each fight while waiting and the interface is much cleaner and more efficient.

Then you have your almost required Leaderboards, and to wrap everything up you have a new option which is the Fighters List. The Fighters List is a way for you and your fellow warriors to connect together easier when fighting online. You can add people who actually destroy you in a chance to beat your rivals, or add the person you just annihilated before for easier wins. Another new innovative feature is the inclusion of a spectator mode where you can view past replays of fights and during this you can actually take and save photos of events throughout the fight. If all of that wasn't enough, Dead or Alive 5 consists of a story that doesn't involve (on avg.) between 12-16 fights as we would normally have in a fighting game, but instead the story mode for DoA5 involves over 60 fights! Make no mistake, Dead or Alive 5 truly brings a continental amount of content and that alone would make any fighting game the biggest dog on the block, but there is so much more.

When you go through the story and you fight what seems to be an unending stream of fights, your eyes are treated to one of the best qualities that Dead or Alive 5 boasts, and those are the breathtaking graphics. A short, very beautifully done movie starts and finishes every fight, and sometimes these gorgeous movies can last for over two minutes which not only gives your heart time to return to normal beating, and your adrenaline to filter back into your body, but it also gives you a chance to see true beauty unfold right before your very eyes. Each fighter is rendered to look incredibly life like so every muscle, every strand of hair, every piece of clothing seems to have its own physical effect in the environment and all of this makes fighting with each and every character a joy all in its own right.

If the characters becoming almost life like aren?t good enough, every level you fight on is done in such a way that you can sometimes feel yourself losing focus as your eyes switch to the background and you miss your opponent flying in with a kick aimed right at your head. Always known for having multiple levels of stages, Dead or Alive 5 doesn't break this tradition, and instead offers more destructible environments than ever before. Now there are multiple paths to destruction that you can take, and even generate more carnage than you ever thought possible, and all the while seeing every second of splendor in smoothness unseen before in any fighting game. If Kasumi's sword doesn't take your breath away, the graphics of Dead or Alive 5 definitely will.

For fighting game fans, playing a game that provides a mountain of content while displaying it in a beautiful graphical art form and adding in an enjoyable, straight forward online gametypes, and topped off with an incredibly deep control scheme is a must have. We have seen years of pretenders, and very few contenders, but in Dead or Alive 5 we get our first glimpse at what truly makes a champion. For those who want to experience a fighting game, pick up something else, but for those who want to fight, and fight to win, without question you must own Dead or Alive 5.

Overall: 9.5 / 10
Gameplay: 9.4 / 10
Visuals: 9.8 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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