Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate released this week on the PS3 and Xbox 360 as the definitive version of DOA 5, after an earlier console release and the release of Dead or Alive 5 Plus on the PS Vita. If you like fighting games, and especially the DOA style, you’ll like this one.
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate combines characters from Sega’s Virtual Fighter series (Akira, Pai, Sarah, and Jacky) plus returning favorites like Ein and Leon, to a roster that also includes two new fighters from the Ninja Gaiden franchise: fiend hunter Rachel and shrine maiden Momiji, bringing the total number of playable characters to 29. Visually, DOA5 Ultimate is stunning, from the brightly colored and artistically varied environments to the little touches on each character’s outfit: as a fight progresses, you’ll notice dirt, sweat, and dampness (if you get wet) appear on your fighter’s clothing, something many fighting games don’t take the time to include. From a sheer graphical standpoint, you’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier fighting game, and I’m not just talking about the series’ famous females.
The main gameplay remains the same, so if you’re a DOA vet you’ll fit in just fine with Ultimate. Training modes have been brought in to help newer (or less skilled) players hone their skills. It’s well worth your time, with over 40 lessons to work through, and the AI (not to mention human opponents online) will decimate you if you don’t know how to evade and counter moves. Countering in particular, using Dead or Alive‘s “hold” system, is the most crucial element… I’m not very good at it, which is why I get my virtual butt handed to myself more often than not online. There are a number of single-player modes, ranging from the completely nonsensical Story mode that tries to give you a coherent timeline – and at times fails spectacularly through way too many things seemingly happening within minutes of each other — to the standard Arcade, Survival, and Tag modes. Most modes will allow you to accept an online challenge while you’re in the middle of another fight, and the online component was smooth for me on the PS3 version.
You’ll have plenty of reasons to replay the game as well, with each character getting a horde of costumes to unlock. Also unlockable are every character’s victory and defeat animations, which you can then view and take screenshots of, complete with costume changes, dirt and sweat modifiers, and more. I’m certain you’ll use this mode in a completely tasteful manner… unlike me.
My main gripe with Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate — aside from the silly Story mode –is the difficulty I alluded to earlier. If you don’t know how to counter using the “hold” system, you won’t get very far on any difficulty level above “Easy.” Story mode also throws you into the shoes of multiple characters, much like Injustice: Gods Among Us and Mortal Kombat did before, which can put you at a frustratingly big disadvantage in some cases. I know he has fans, but I hate Zack, so I hated it even more when I was forced to fight as – and lose repeatedly as – him a number of times. In some instances the Story mode’s difficulty seems to go way up after changing characters, only to go down when you change characters again, giving the whole thing a very inconsistent feel.
Oh, and there are options for how you want the female characters’ boobs to act as far as physics are concerned. So there’s that.
Overall, though, if you’re a fan of the Dead or Alive series, DOA 5 Ultimate is a perfectly viable choice, especially if you’ve got experience with earlier releases.
We were provided a copy of the PS3 version for this review by Tecmo Koei.