|System: Xbox 360, PS3*|
|Dev: Team Ninja|
|Pub: Tecmo Koei|
|Release: September 25, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence|
Unfortunately, these environmental hazards also tend to break up the flow of the game, interrupting the battle with long cutscenes that seem like they are taken right out of an action movie. Don't get me wrong, seeing your opponent get run over by a train is fun, but by the tenth time you really just want the damage to be done and get on with it. Luckily, you can turn hazards like this off in the game options. In fact, you can simply choose to fight on a featureless wall-less stage if you really want to.
The game controls smoothly and responsively, and even though it's welcoming to newbies, someone with better timing and more thorough knowledge of their character's move list will still probably prevail in the end. Still, there are certain aspects of DOA5's fighting system that feel random and cheap. Certain strings are blatantly abusable and hard to punish while new Critical Bursts leave your opponent unfairly open. Also, new Power Blows do absurd damage, once again through cinematic cutscenes. All of this comes together to give the game a certain feeling of cheapness, though that's nothing new to the DOA franchise. You can eventually master your character to an extent that these spammable tactics are child's play to avoid, but in the beginning expect a lot of frustration as you lose to simple overpowered moves over and over again.
Speaking of characters, the DOA5 roster is absolutely spectacular. Not only will you see classic DOA faces and some totally original newcomers enter the ring, you'll also see some guest combatants from Virtua Fighter 5 like Pai and Akira. Since Virtua Fighter is built on a three-button control scheme that is very similar to DOA's, these characters essentially control exactly like their Virtua Fighter incarnations, right down to their strings and strategies. Heck, even pro tactics like Sarah Bryant's flamingo stance cancels carry over perfectly.
Of course, any fighting game worth its salt has to include online play, and DOA5 is no exception. It includes the typical options you'd find in a fighting game's online suite, including ranked, unranked, and lobby matches. Spectator mode is included, which at this point has become somewhat of a necessity in the online fighting world. You can even take the game into online training mode to practice your most damaging combos on your friend.
As far as the game's netcode goes, it's a bit of a hit or miss affair. I've played in matches that were completely smooth with no perceptible lag whatsoever, but I've also played in matches that would freeze and skip at the worst times. Apparently, the DOA5 team is working to improve the game's online play even as we speak, which is a good thing. Overall, I'd say that the netcode is competent with a few unfortunate hiccups that prevent it from being perfect.
The last thing I want to mention here is the story mode which, frankly, is rather horrible (even for a fighting game story mode.) However, it's magnificent as a tutorial. The folks at Tecmo Koei have learned to integrate their tutorials into the gameplay itself, and this is a great help to anyone who is just learning the game. You have to go through story mode to unlock characters, so just about every player will be compelled to give it a shot. This way, everyone will have experienced the tutorial and no one will have an excuse for not learning the game's mechanics. That being said, the plot is absolutely ludicrous. Some scenes are entertaining but most are just poorly written excuses to set up a fight. I'd actually suggest skipping through most of them, as you'll learn the game and unlock characters quicker that way.
DOA5 lives up to the phrase "fighting entertainment" by being a game that trades mechanical depth for accessibility and flash. It's very friendly to mashing, boasts a very simple fighting system without any hidden mechanics, and wraps every match in a dazzling spectacle. It's almost like a Michael Bay version of a fighting game; you don't have to think about it too hard but that's why it's so entertaining. Sure, you might feel dirty for enjoying it at the end of the day, but at least you can say you had fun.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: September 25, 2012