Title: Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate
System(s): PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Tecmo Koei (Team Ninja)
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, and Violence
There are two things that the Dead or Alive series is known for: big breasts (ba-dum-ch). Alright, now that that’s outta my system let’s get started. Team Ninja is one of those developers I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with. On the one hand, they are excellent in terms of graphical achievement and character animations, as well as frenetic gameplay that’s sure to give your thumbs a workout, but on the other hand, their competency in game design is largely buried under flashy eye-candy; it seems no matter how delicious a Team Ninja title is there’s always the bitter taste of sexism present. I don’t think this is really a shocking assertion, after all this is the same developer who popularized the term “jiggle physics” and conducted “hands on” research of natural breast movement for Dead or Alive 5. And let us not forget the utter train wreck that was Metroid: Other M: which I will never forgive them for. However, if one were to look past the large boobs and outlandish costume designs, they would find a passionate developer dedicated to producing not only a good looking game, but a game that plays good as well and perhaps this methodical attention to detail is best showcased in Team Ninja’s latest: Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate .
Some semblance of a story
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate continues the tradition of sporting a bare-bones storyline that is in reality nothing more than a series of loosely tied together cutscenes with a few one round fights intermixed. The narrative takes place after the events of Dead or Alive 4 in which the global weapons conglomerate DOATEC has been all but destroyed. Helena, now CEO of the “new” DOATEC, decides it is in the company’s best interest to hold a new tournament to promote the company’s new image. The tournament is to be held on a converted oil platform in the middle of the ocean. However, a new group comprised of the remnants of the old DOATEC has their own agenda and it’s up to Hyate, Kasumi, Ayane, Ryu, and the other DOA fighters to stop their evil plans.
As far as storylines go, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate’s is about as choppy and inconsistent as it you can get. Much of the “story mode”, if you can call it that, is spent watching cutscenes that make little sense while constantly switching characters and perspectives then having a single round fight between whatever character you’ve been drafted as, and whomever else happens to be present in a given cutscene. Each character has their own storyline and goals to achieve, but pretty much everyone ends up participating in the DOA tournament somehow. Beyond this, there isn’t really much more to discuss in terms of DOA5U’s story; it is a fighting game after all, they’re not really known for having a deep narrative.
Flashy and Fun
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is more or less an updated version of last year’s Dead or Alive 5 that adds a few new features and tweaks a few system/gameplay mechanics for a more balanced experience. Many of the new additions are ones that were present in the PS Vita version Dead or Alive 5 Plus, such as a more in-depth training mode and a “combo challenge mode” that aids players in learning specific combos. Many, but not all, of the DLC costume packs are now included as unlockables and there are five new/returning characters to play as. All known bugs and glitches have been fixed, while tag-team and online modes have been tweaked at the request of fans in order to provide players with the best experience possible.
While Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate’s story may suck, the same cannot be said for its gameplay. Players will most certainly enjoy the game’s arcade mode above all else. The combat is really where DOA5U shines. The character animations are very fluid and heavily stylized, and each blow to your opponent is incredibly satisfying. The way in which each fight plays out makes you feel like you are in an over-the-top kung-fu movie or and action packed anime. It’s actually quite impressive to see how much detail Team Ninja put into the subtle movements of each character.
Thinking on the subject a little more, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate’s controls are relatively simple and can be easily picked up by even the most novice gamer. What’s amazing is just how much depth and complexity can be achieved with such minimalistic controls. Different moves are tied to different combinations of punches and kicks combined with directional movement: just like any good fighter. You also have the ability to side-step in 3 dimensions and use this change in stance to initiate even more moves. The combat is incredibly fast-paced and very fun, and it doesn’t take much effort on the part of the player to pull-off some very cool-looking moves, making you feel like a total badass. The only issues preventing the combat from reaching perfection is that it there is far too much delay in switching between a high and a low stance, and occasionally you or your opponent can lock one another in an endless barrage of attacks that is nearly impossible to break free from.
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is played primarily on a 2 dimensional plane, but the act of side-stepping by either yourself or your opponent reveals fully realized fighting arenas. Some levels feature trash and other debris that gets whipped about the arena by either the wind or the combatant’s attacks. The way in which the junk dances in tandem with the character’s attacks goes a long way in bringing each level to life as well as making each blow dealt feel all the more powerful. Damage can also be inflicted upon the level itself and certain levels have breakaway scenery that you can kick your opponent through, either pushing them into another room or making them fall from a great height and sustaining heavy damage.
While Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate does look quite spectacular in motion, the same cannot be said when things come to a standstill. Aliasing is the biggest offender in terms of DOA5U’s visual blunders, with everything having and unbelievable amount of jaggies present. This isn’t noticeable on the characters so much but certain pieces of scenery are so incredibly choppy they look as though they were rendered in MS Paint or constructed out of Lego. The actual design of the environments combined with the vibrant color palette used makes the aliasing less noticeable but it can only mask so much. Overall, the game looks more like seventh-generation launch title rather than one that is released shortly before a new console era.
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is quite challenging; lower difficulty levels can be conquered by button mashing, but more finesse and more perfect timing is required to succeed as the game’s difficulty rises. Apart from the wonderful arcade mode and the horrendous story mode, are a few other gameplay options to choose from such as: versus mode, survival mode, team fight, and time attack. You also have the option to jump online and play against other players from around the world or attempt to reach the top of the leaderboards. While it is nice to have this much content in a game, everything but arcade mode is more or less padding to make Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate feel like more than it actually is. Oh, and lest I forget, you also have control over how much jiggliness you want: none, which I prefer; “natural”, which I guess would be true if the girls happened to be in space; and “DOA”, which is as if gravity were constantly switching direction very rapidly; so, there’s that.
Dig deeper…there’s fun to be had
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is, well, the ultimate version of Dead or Alive 5 that corrects many of the bugs and irons out the gameplay to produce a more balanced experience. While there is quite a bit of additional content over the original title, much of it is of little value to anyone but the most die-hard fans of the DOA series. The arcade mode is the clear standout that casts off all of the fluff and gets right into the heart of the truly fantastic fighting system. Character designs are great and there is fun to be had for novice and master players alike. While this is certainly a step up from previous entries in the series, it still doesn’t bring enough quality content to the table to be more than a brief distraction to anyone outside of the fighting game fandom. If you’re a Dead or Alive fan already, this one’s a no brainer, but if you’re new to the series there probably isn’t enough here to win you over.
Site [Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate]