Dead or Alive 5 Review

  • Posted September 26th, 2012 at 11:28 EDT by

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Dead or Alive 5

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Dead or Alive 5 has enough to please fans and newcomers with game mechanics that are easy to learn, but difficult to master.

We like

  • Improved visuals and story plot
  • Dynamic and lively characters and environments
  • Training tools

We dislike

  • Not enough evolution
  • Graphical shortcomings
  • Poor storytelling

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

(continued from previous page) ...voice or a sound from DOA5 and at first believing it was in my house.

Gameplay stays relatively the same as previous entries in the franchise plus a few additions. Attacks still follow a rock-paper-scissors system. Strikes beat throws, throws beat holds, and holds beat strikes. Hence, players benefit from reading your opponents moves. Out of the three attack types, the hold has been tweaked the most. The timing required to execute a hold against your opponent’s strike is the pickiest it’s ever been. This is probably for the better - in the past it was not an uncommon site to see a player deal out an unreasonable amount of damage by using hold after hold. Several new characters are added to the DOA series, whose styles include MMA and Taekwondo, along with three Virtua Fighter characters. New gameplay moves are side-stepping, “Power Blows” and “Critical Bursts.” Sidestepping is a quick dodge to your character’s left or right. A Power Blow can be executed when a character’s health is below 50% to help turn the tide of a battle by dealing a large amount of damage. While this may sound like it could harm the balance of the game, a full Power Blow is not easy to pull off and the timing has to be right. While attempting a Power Blow, a character is fairly exposed to attacks. A slow motion cinematic animation occurs that allows you to deal damage and control where your opponent is thrown to. The key is to trigger the Power Blow and send the opponent into destructible objects or a Danger Zone. A move with “Critical Burst” leaves your opponent absolutely defenseless: he or she is unable to block or hold.

Dead or Alive 5’s story is the best one yet, filled with intrigue and surprises. Set two years after Dead or Alive 4, the story sees Helena Douglas rebuilding a new DOATEC that is rid of the evil influence of Victor Donovan, a former DOATEC leader. The campaign is setup in a linear fashion where you switch between characters in a set order. Almost the entire main cast is included as characters you play as for at least 3 matches each. Each match has a “bonus mission” which involves pulling off a specific move as an effort to educate the player. A large part of the story is spent on the Dead or Alive 5 tournament in order to facilitate this structure. Beyond the tournament lies a tale of corporate espionage that is at times nonsensical, but interesting. The ending takes an unexpected route and is like one found in a Metal Gear Solid game. Regardless, DOA5’s story is far from perfect and gets dragged down by choppy and confusing storytelling. There are a lot of time jumps and re-watching of the same cutscenes here and there due to playing as multiple characters.

Offline game modes include versus, arcade, time attack, survival, and training. Training definitely is the most improved with features such as a command training to assist you in learning your characters moves. Another new setting in training allows setting a virtual Network Speed to practice as if you were facing less-than-ideal online conditions. In all the offline modes, Move Details can be turned on in the Fight Screen Info of the pause menu that displays real-time stats like stance and even frame numbers. The online mode is what you would expect with unranked and ranked games. Lag seems to be a problem but is less common when selecting to fight players in the same region. Any matches played in DOA5 can be saved for further review to help the player improve.

When I spoke with Dead or Alive 5 Director Yohei Shimbori and Team Ninja Studio Head Yosuke Hayashi at E3 2012, they emphasized their key goal was to make “fighting entertainment” that could be enjoyed by hardcore and casual gamers. DOA5’s tagline, “I am a fighter” continues this theme. Overall, I would say they succeeded in what they set out to do. There is not a whole lot of complexity yet the depth is there. All the new training tools will encourage new and long-time players to keep improving. Despite its shortcomings, DOA5 is the best Dead or Alive period.

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    Release date (US):
    September 25th, 2012
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