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Dead Or Alive 5 review

Dead or Alive 5 Screenshot - 1095023

Now that Itagaki and most of his crucial team members have departed the company, we were wondering just what the remaining folks at Team Ninja would be able to do with the Dead Or Alive franchise.  In the past, Itagaki-san and his crew relied on heavily bouncing boob physics and the kind of fighting system that would send someone into a maddening frenzy if they didn't "get" the counters figured out just right.  

Apparently those who were left over decided to tinker with said formula, not making the focus so much on the boobs and instead relying on solid fighting action in general, where everyone could stand a fighting chance.  On that note, Dead Or Alive 5 may not overwhelm you in the same way as, say, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, but this is easily one of the best entries in the series to date…and a fighter that shouldn't be disregarded.

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The main thing that weighs the game down is its own Story Mode.  Set across a number of separate characters, this takes a while to get through, mainly because of the ridiculous amount of cut scenes and occasional lacks of logic.  Still, you'll want to get through it to unlock a few Trophies and Achievements, and maybe have a chuckle or two at how badly Ayane continues to stalk Kasumi – but obviously not in a sexual way.

As for the other options, they're plentiful enough.  You can take on a string of continuous enemies in Survival; do your best to clear stages in Time Attack; and fight people both locally in your home or online through Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.  Typical modes, but Tecmo continues to make them click.

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What works here is the fighting itself.  No one is overpowered, and everyone seems to have balance when it comes to counters, combos and grab moves.  Even someone as Bass could easily be overpowered by the likes of Helena, and big-boobed Tina isn't always a powerhouse, even over new characters like the nimble construction worker Rig.  Anyone can win over anyone, and that's rare in a fighting game, even something like Tekken Tag Tournament 2, where Unknown will wipe the floor with you every time.

Some new additions keep things in check.  If you drop below 50 percent in energy, you gain access to a Power Blow, enabling you to land a Super Move that gives you a chance to come back – which is awesome for those facing off against constant jugglers.  And the Critical Burst is great too, as you can overcome most counters and really stun someone off-guard, nailing them with a well-timed combo.  And of course, the stages themselves play a part, as you can knock someone into an exploding object or, better yet, into a 50 foot drop to a new part of the stage – always a fun staple of the Dead Or Alive franchise.

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Along with gameplay improvements, Dead Or Alive 5 is the most graphically efficient sequel to date.  The fighters look amazing, animating with flair and yet not really going "too far" over the top with the jiggle physics.  And as weird as it is to see them in a franchise outside of Virtua Fighter, Sarah Bryant and Akira are natural fits for the game, just as vicious as Ryu Hayabusa and Tina are.  The backgrounds are nice too, from a military backdrop where you can get blasted by a tank, to a cool jungle raft that goes floating down a real-time river, only to come to a halt in front of a waterfall.  The camera cutaways are a little drastic, but hardly worth complaining about.

As for the music, it's typical Dead Or Alive with cheesy rock tunes, but you'll get over them.  The sound effects and voicework are solid too, though some of these characters are too dramatic with their taunts.  Kasumi almost sounds like she's contemplating a lot on her plate over whether to fight you or not.

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No, Dead Or Alive 5 doesn't change much in terms of formula, but it's the most balanced product in the series to date, something that's well deserving of a few fans.  And, yes, the boobs continue to jiggle (especially in the bikinis), but a number of other options are well worth exploring here, such as getting better with a certain fighter and mastering not only counters, but Critical Burst and Power Blow as well.  Who would've thought there would be an untamed beast behind those beautiful...eyes?

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Robert Workman
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