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Dead or Alive 5 Review

Joshua Vanderwall | 19 Oct 2012 20:00
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The controls are another unique aspect of the game. If you've never played a DOA game, it is important to note that the counter system takes center stage. You can know every combo in the game, but if you can't counter your opponent's attacks, you're probably not going to get very far. While it's not uncommon to have counters in a fighting game, to have them be so fundamental is a novelty of the franchise. While button mashing can be somewhat fruitful, don't expect it to carry you quite as far as you may be used to in other fighters. The controls are deceptively simple, but in order to truly master the game, you have to be able to read the opponent, knowing what they're going to throw at you so you can counter it appropriately. Naturally, you don't have to counter every move, but each time you do, you're going to be doing a good chunk of damage, while also saving yourself a little bit of pain.

The mechanics of the game are well-implemented, with many strikes causing a brief stun, allowing you to combo off against a largely defenseless opponent. I say "largely defenseless" because even while stunned you can still counter some attacks, and this is where much of the difficulty in mastering the game will come in. It's hard to avoid every strike, but if you know how to time it and which buttons to press, you can come out of a stun with your own counter-attack. If you're ever stuck in a corner while your opponent just wails on you, this will be an absolute life saver. Throwing just the right counter at just the right time to get out of an impossible situation is hands-down one of the most gratifying experiences in the game.

DOA5's graphics keep you immersed during the fight, with each character having very distinctive animations for their style. The cut scene graphics aren't quite as impressive as they should be, though, given the stellar presentation of the actual gameplay. The special moves are fairly low-key combos, with none of the wild and crazy animations seen in more stylized fighting games. You won't be lobbing fireballs from the corner in DOA5. Each fight looks like a well-choreographed scene from an action movie, rather than a string of special move animations.

The multiplayer options are fairly typical for a fighting game, with player matches and ranked matches differentiating the more casual players from the hardcore. In player matches, you can customize your settings, changing the time limit, the number of rounds, and the starting health. The most novel feature of DOA5's multiplayer has got to be the tournament option, which allows you to set up tournaments for up to 16 players. Team Ninja also provides a Spectator mode, where you can observe matches in progress, learning your opponent's wiles before you face them yourself, and even offers a Lobby Chat feature, which didn't seem to get much use. Online matches were, for the most part, a lag-free experience, which is crucial for such a timing-intensive title.

Bottom Line: DOA5 is fun to play, easy to pick up, and hard to master. Everything you want from a fighting game.

Recommendation: If you're looking for a Tekken-style button masher, this is probably not for you. For a seasoned fighting veteran seeking a small twist on the genre, however, this should be right up your alley.

This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Game: Dead or Alive 5
Genre: Fighter
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK), Play.com(UK)

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