Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate Review
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Dead or Alive 5 makes its way back to the console with the new Ultimate edition. Featuring new content and additional features from the Vita version, DOA5 Ultimate offers the most complete experience yet. But is it enough to stand out amongst the rest of the arcade fighters that have launched this year?
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is set two years after the fourth iteration of the series and follows each of the game’s characters along their individual storylines, which eventually begin to intersect as the Dead or Alive Tournament draws closer. The game seats you with a variety of characters as they follow their own path to the DOA Tournament in a number of chapters, where you’ll fight opponents as you progress through the non-linear story that feels out of context until you get about five or six chapters (and about 25 fights) into the game.
The game’s non-sequential storytelling is further hindered by a lack of substance in the writing, as most cutscenes often only offer a glimpse into the goings-on, leaving the player befuddled for the majority of the time. Subpar voice acting, complete with bad accents, further adds to the lackluster lore-weaving, further pushing you down the path of bailing out to head into the Fight modes that offer more fun for less headache.
In the Fight menus, you’ll find a series of modes to tickle just about any fighting enthusiast’s fancy. Versus mode is pretty self-explanatory, offering up solo or tag team play. Arcade mode is essentially a challenge tower mode that offers up the most straightforward and enjoyable experience. Time Attack pits you against the clock to finish the game as quickly as possible. Survival Mode pits you against a never ending onslaught of enemies to see how long you can survive for. And finally there’s Team Fight, a Royal Rumble style match-up that allows you to pit up to seven players against an opposing seven, where the winner is the team left standing. Training Modes, including the Combo Challenge, makes its debut on the console version from the PS Vita’s Dead or Alive 5 Plus, for those who need to hone their skills before taking the fight online in DOA5’s ranked or lobby (unranked) matches. We did find that online matches were far and few between, which is unfortunate, as online play is a staple in arcade fighters nowadays.
There are 29 characters available out of the box with all of your favourites from previous DOA games, as well as the return of Ryu Hayabusa and Momiji from the Ninja Gaiden series. Each of the characters’ fighting styles play to their different strengths. Some characters feature a more MMA style mix of kickboxing and regular hand-boxing, and are regularly more nimble, more easily stun opponents but deal light to moderate damage, whereas other characters can favour more heavy-handed combat styles that deal more powerful damage but are far less agile.
Controls are fairly straightforward and work well on the Xbox 360 controller. Where most fighting games that come out on the Xbox 360 suffer at the hands of a poorly designed d-pad, DOA 5 Ultimate seems to compensate for it nicely; however, it doesn’t say much when you’re making up for a lackluster control scheme. The camera also auto-adjusts to keep centred on the action quite well, giving you a panoramic view of the arena. However, the occasional graphical glitch occurs when objects pop in and out of the foreground – likely this is a mechanic to keep players’ view from being obstructed, but this can serve as a distraction during fights. Additionally, there are the occasional freeze glitches during the fights and loading screens as well as animation glitches that occur all too often when fighters are in close quarters – which is pretty much all the time.
In Story Mode, the game’s AI seems to adjust its difficulty in a way that allows you to progress through the story by toning itself down should you get stuck in a level with a problematic opponent. Don’t expect this to be the case in the far less forgiving Arcade modes, but fortunately for those with less talent behind the fight stick (like yours truly), there are eight levels of difficulty ranging from Rookie to Legend to give you some breathing room.
Like previous DOA games, each female character model seems to fit a subtype of every boy’s wet dream. Women are dressed in not much more than a negligee and robe or other garbs that accentuate the breasts and nether regions. If their standard outfit doesn’t meet the players’ needs, even breezier outfits can be unlocked or purchased as downloadable content. Aside from the overabundance of girl-flesh, character models and environments are graphically superb, even if the characters lack damage textures that you would find in other fighting games such as Injustice or Mortal Kombat. The arenas, however, are somewhat destructible and also feature multi-levels. It’s always satisfying to kick your opponent so hard that he/she bursts through a window and goes pummeling down into the gardens below.
In closing, DOA 5 Ultimate from a technical perspective is a fairly solid game. If you can get past the juvenility, misogynistic costumes, vague narrative, and graphical glitches, this can be somewhat enjoyable. However if you’re looking for more substance, you won’t find it here.
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