The Dead or Alive series has always been kept at an arm’s length for me. I know about it, but the steep learning curve and prominent “jiggle physics” stopped me from ever taking it seriously, and I’m not alone. Dead or Alive 5 looks to change that by going back to its hardcore roots.
With only one button each for punches and kicks, most of DoA’s complexity lies within its triangle system. Strikes can stop someone from throwing you but can be stopped with a hold. This rock-paper scissors system turns matches into more about reading your opponent than random pokes and jabs. I enjoyed the depth of the fighting engine but there were certain things I couldn’t ignore.
While the gameplay is wonderfully solid, the perverseness is still hard to ignore. Body parts wiggle with far too much excitement for me to truly enjoy the game. Even worse is after a fight the fighters collapse onto the floor in a sexy pose while you can control the camera, complete with heavy breathing. While this is skippable, you’ll be seeing it quite often when you first pick the game up.
Trying to learn the fighting system and mechanics can be a chore as the tutorial is interwoven into the 70+ fight story mode. The writing in this belabored mode is hammy at best so your enjoyment is entirely up to you. I found the guest characters to be a particularly great touch, even if Ryu Hayabusa doesn’t count at this point. Beyond that this is as bare bones as fighter’s get, without so much as a trial mode, furthering the “back to basics” philosophy present throughout the game.
DoA5 isn’t going to make you want to jump into the franchise if you haven’t already, but it’s got all the right ingredients to give fans more of what they want and then some.
DoA5 is out now for PS3 and Xbox 360 for $59.99. (Gameplay captured on the PlayStation 3 by Kevin Slackie using the Game Capture HD Pro from Roxio)