|System: Xbox One, PS4*|
|Dev: Team Ninja|
|Pub: Tecmo Koei|
|Release: February 17, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Dead or Alive 5 is out! Hey, wait—wasn’t this game already released once before? And again before that? Wait a minute, how many times has this thing been released?
Yes, welcome to Dead or Alive 5: Last Round, the latest in Dead or Alive 5 remakes and re-releases, pretending to be a sequel. Sorry if that’s a bit too direct for you, but that is Last Round in a nutshell. It's a repackaged update patch at best, and while Dead or Alive 5 still stands fine as a fighting game on its own merits, being repackaged for a fourth time will understandably start to wear on your patience.
Let’s start with the basics. Dead or Alive 5, if you haven’t read our full review, is an interesting fighting game for casual players. Essentially, it operates on a rock paper scissors style of gameplay with strikes, throws, and holds. Strikes are physical attacks, the bread and butter of a character’s repertoire, and they beat throw attempts but are vulnerable to holds. Holds consist of both normal blocking and an array of counter attacks that turn an opponent’s strike against them. Every character has access to these counterattacks, and they can easily dismantle predictable players. Holds beat strikes, of course, but are vulnerable to throws. Throws, basically do what they say on the tin. They are grapple moves that beat out defensive maneuvers, but lose to any form of attack. Other than that, the game operates on a Tekken or Virtua Fighter-style combo system, where you dial in strings of moves that then execute on the opponent, and successful comboing involves linking these strings together.
Dead or Alive 5 isn’t the most balanced game out there. The roster has pretty clear-cut tiers of good and bad characters. Not to mention that the always controversial stage hazards rear their ugly head in a big way, with “danger zones” causing extra damage if characters are knocked into them, and sometimes triggering long cutscenes with quick time events in the middle of battle as characters are knocked off a ledge or into a passing train or something strange like that. Long story short, the game is a ton of fun to watch and plenty of fun to play if you don’t mind turning your brain off and button-mashing a bit. Just don’t expect this to be the next big tournament fighter.
The thing about Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is that nothing has really changed as far as the gameplay goes. Yes, the game has been “rebalanced” and, when you drill down to the frame by frame level, its arguable certain moves are less exploitable. Still, that feeling of clear cut tiers hasn’t gone away. In the end, Last Round still feels like a casual fighting game at best, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I find it hard to believe people would buy a casual fighter for a fourth time.
This new update adds only two new fighters, which is depressing considering the game’s fourty dollar price tag. The first new character is Honoka, a schoolgirl. Considering Dead or Alive’s proud history of boob physics, this isn’t surprising at all. The second is returning Dead or Alive 1 boss character, Raidou.
On the upside, both fighters are rather unique and fun to play. Honoka is a kind of amalgam character that combines moves from all the other fighters in the game into one move-list, which is always a blast. Raidou is similar but is built more for power than for speed, and even has projectiles to throw around. Unfortunately, the whole “amalgam” style of gameplay does feel a bit lazy and can turn some players off, but I still think they are fun to control.