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Dead or Alive 5 Review

Dead or Alive 5

Following Tomonobu Itagaki’s departure from Team NINJA in 2008, the Toyko-based development team has irrefutably struggled. From the superfluous changes and reduction of viscera made to Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 as well as the critical and commercial disinterest toward both Metroid: Other M and Ninja Gaiden III, the studio’s post-auteur efforts have failed to cultivate much of a following. Between the developer’s deescalating momentum and a gaming landscape packed with an array of proficient fighters, it would seem the prognosis for Dead or Alive 5 might be woefully distressing.

Yet, by focusing on the franchise’s core tenets: taut, visceral mechanics and an indulging quantity of lascivious jiggle, the title is able to aggressively compete against its pugnacious-minded peers. Save for a few, intermittent problems with the game’s net code (edit: largely remedied with the game’s most recent patch) and some truly awful English voice-overs, the Yosuke Hayashi-helmed sequel suggests a critical recovery for Team NINJA.

Dead or Alive 5

Unmistakably, the studio carefully studied the accomplishments of their competitors. The game’s seventy-one chapter Story Mode recalls the engaging main campaign provided by the 2011 reboot of Mortal Kombat. Blending delightfully cheesy cinematics which unite the game’s curious roster of competitors, players sporadically square off to settle their differences on the journey to the fifth Dead or Alive tournament. Functioning as an orientation to each character’s play style, the mode is also elevated by the addition of secondary objectives, which covertly instill the virtues of combos and counters during the four-hour journey.

This component also helps to impart the fundamentals of DOA 5’s Rochambeau-like Triangle System, which endows every move with an inherent strength and weakness. Here, strikes overcome throws, holds take priority over punches and kicks, and throws overwhelm holds. When combined with nuances such as a quartet of hold positions and the ability to sidestep, Dead or Alive 5 attains the franchise’s recurrent sweet spot, blending lightning-fast fighting with an intuitiveness not exhibited by title’s with more convoluted combat systems. Masterfully, clashes in DOA 5 often resemble carefully choreographed filmic fight scenes, rather than hysterical matches of unruly marionettes.

Dead or Alive 5

Augmenting the intensity of most rounds are the changes made to the game’s milieu. Most stages are multi-tiered, allowing players to send opponents on imposing, damage-dealing drops. Other locales are loaded with spots which issue up additional suffering- from a demoralizing shock issued by an electric fence, missile strike incurred by bumping into a tank and even getting pummeled by a plunging car. While there’s certainly sadistic exhilaration to be found when pushing other players into these ensnarements, DOA purists have the option to turn these elements off.

Yet, even when players are on the receiving end of devastating amount of damage, the title permits the possibility of riposte. DOA 5’s Critical Burst system is a technique that when landed puts opponents into a helpless state, providing the possibility of inflicting a match-winning combo. There’s also the Power Blow which can only be initiated when a player is blow half of their health. Utilizing this tool, players can easily turn the tide of battle as they combo foes before propelling them into an environmental hazard.

Dead or Alive 5

Beyond the supplements to combat mechanics and the sophistication of stages, Dead or Alive 5 gives players additional reasons enter the fray. New faces to the schedule include MMA prodigy Mila, and an off-shore foreman, fatefully named Rig, as well as Akira, Pai, and Sarah from the Virtua Fighter universe who are available for play in both regular and tag matches. Advancing the series’ trademark fluidity, DOA 5 is tirelessly lithe, flaunting some of the most graceful animations in any contemporary fighter; save for the rare dropped frame the game is a sumptuous looker. Even the game’s emblematic breast physics have been enhanced, eliminating the eyesore of independently moving mammaries. The title’s sole aesthetic blemish is its audio output. The game’s voice-over track should be immediately switched to the native Japanese option. Regretfully, no adjustments can be made to the game’s driving, but ultimately forgettable musical accompaniments.

Dead or Alive 5’s real virtue its scalability, accommodating novices to fighting game fanatics. From a variety of skill levels and tunings that remove much of its predecessor’s inhospitality to a practice mode which offers enough information to gratify tournament-level players, the game is capable of captivating a wide audience. Although Team NINJA’s post-Itagaki output have been decidedly mixed, DOA 5 proves that the studio has the potential to produce games which match their previous, paramount efforts.

Dead or Alive 5

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Good, maybe great review. But why wasn’t this posted two weeks ago?

  2. C’mon for the DOA reviews, stay for the ads which promise erotic fiction filled with tales where men are forcibly transformed into Shemales.

  3. Who is this “Robert Allen” guy, and what did he do with “Desert Eagle”? Next, we’ll be calling CheapyD “David” or something…

    I always like the DOA games. They’re not a deep at VF or even Tekken, but I don’t have to spend days with them to be average. Is it still like that or is it more technical now?

  4. The fact that this game turned out legit is pretty amazing. When I heard they were downplaying the titties, I thought DOA was going to be DEAD ON ARRIVAL for sure.

  5. The fact that the limited access to the demo really sucked. I depend of demos to make my buying decisions.

  6. I managed to play about an hour of this and really liked it lot. Typical DOA style- cutscenes look nice as hell but make no sense, but who cares the fighting was top notch.

  7. How many different fighters are they all together?

  8. I saw they messed with the Hitomi model in an alpha. Did they fix her and make her like old Hitomi?

  9. How many costumes are there? Also, I heard there’s free DLC. Any new characters?

    • All DLC is free.

      DOA Angels: White rabbit-theme strapless bikinis made from faux fur, with a tail on the shorts, ear accessories, and beach footwear for Kasumi, Hitomi, Lei Fang. It was through Gamestop.

      DOA Devils: Black rabbit-theme strapless bikinis made from faux fur, with a tail on the shorts, ear accessories, and beach footwear for Ayane, Christie, Tina Armstrong. Amazon and Wal-mart.

      There’s also the first time pack and the premium suits that came with the collector’s edition.

      • Uh, it came out today for real money. $5 each. That sucks.

        • Team Ninja announced three new DLC packs for their fighting title ‘Dead or Alive 5′. The new DLC will hit Xbox 360 and PS3 today and will be available for download. Here are the new sets that are available to purchase.

          All of the DLC packs will be available for download on both consoles and give players the ability to dress their fighters up as either sexy cats, strange beings or glammed-out fighters. Here is the rundown for the three new packs as described by Team Ninja in a recent press-release:

          Kitty Pack ($4.99 / 400 MSP) – Helena, Christie, Tina and Lisa all receive a set of delightful and playful cat ears – and sexy outfits to go with them!

          What a Character ($4.99 / 400 MSP) – Hitomi and Mila each dress up in maid outfits; Rig puts on his bartender britches; and Lisa has a ball in her masquerade gown!

          Special Set ($4.99 / 400 MSP) – Kasumi slips into some comfy overalls; Leifang gets her signature panda shirt; Hayabusa appears as a fiend version of himself; and Lisa gets sultry in a revealing black dress.

          • No Ayane costume and Street Fighter IV prices? Remind me again why I should get this before Tekken Tag Tournament 2?

          • You should get TTT2. If you’re part of Best Buy’s club, you can get it for $40 which is about right.

  10. You’re neglecting DOA Dimensions. Team Ninja did a great job with that one. It’s one of the best fighters on the 3DS and has plenty of free content.

  11. I’m glad the fixed the online lag. My friend who bought it last week said matches were pretty bad and almost unplayable.

  12. I want a review that focuses on nothing but boob physics. NOTHING!

  13. What platform did you play it on? How are the load times?

  14. Ben from Barcelona

    WTF did they do to Hitomi, she’s Caucasian now?

  15. Are there any deals on DoA5?