- Publisher: Tecmo Koei
- Developer: Team Ninja
- ESRB Rating: “M" for Mature
- Genre: Fighting
- Pros: Incredible graphics; deceptively simple fighting system has lots of depth; good training mode
- Cons: Awful story mode; steep learning curve; not a ton of modes
Features and Modes
Dead or Alive 5 packs more than 20 series favorite characters along with a handful of guest fighters from SEGA's Virtua Fighter series. The cast includes a lot of different fighting styles and abilities which keeps things nicely varied and interesting despite the large roster. A handful of characters are locked at the beginning - the VF characters and Alpha 152 - but they are fairly easy to unlock through the story mode (other than Alpha who requires you earn 300 titles). There are also lots of hidden costumes that you find over the course of play that all have different unlock requirements, including bikinis that pretty much only super skilled players will ever be able to unlock.
As far as modes go, DOA5 is a little light compared to some other recent fighting games. It has a 3 hour long story mode where you briefly play as most of the cast in a match or three each, but the story is really bad and it is odd that the difficulty definitely ramps up as you play, yet you don't play as any character long enough to actually learn anything so you'll get to the end bosses and struggle a bit. The other odd thing is that the story mode also takes the place of the lesson mode / fight lab from Persona 4 Arena or Tekken Tag 2 where it tries to teach you the basic moves and abilities over the course of the story. Each fight will have a mission you have to complete - specific moves you have to use - but you don't actually have to do the missions to advance. You just need to win, which is a good thing since using the moves they want you to use for the missions makes the matches a lot harder than they would be otherwise. A separate mission mode and story mode would have been a lot better here.
Other modes include an arcade mode where you just run though a ladder of opponents to try to earn a high score, but there are no ending movies or anything. There are also survival and time attack modes as well, and these along with arcade have multiple difficulty modes for you to try out. You can play any of these modes in solo or tag team modes, which does add some variety though we stuck with solo matches most of the time since we were a little burned out on tag stuff due to another big 3D tag fighter hitting this month. There is a training mode as well where it will take you through an entire character's move list one move at a time which is very well done. It makes learning moves and combos pretty easy and interesting. Other than that, though, there aren't many other offline modes to speak of. There is a spectator mode where you can set up a fight and then move the camera around wherever you want and take pictures (see the pervy old man comment above) but it isn't anything special.
There are also, of course, multiplayer matches to play locally or online which is where most of your time will likely be spent. We won't comment on online play because, frankly, it is entirely dependant on individual connections between and there won't ever be a definitive verdict on how it performs. Some fighting games compensate for this better and the experience as a whole is better overall for everyone. And some games don't. We'll leave it at that for now.
DOA 5 has some other tricks as well. Stages have walls to juggle opponents against as well as stage specific danger zones where part of the stage will explode or collapse or something, doing extra damage to your opponent. You can also still knock opponents down stairs of over cliffs for extra fall damage, just like DOA4. New to DOA5 is a comeback mechanic called critical burst which is a super move each character has when their health gets below a certain level. It isn't quite a surefire as similar mechanics in other games (Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur V), however, and seems to be a bit more risky in DOA (they are very slow to activate, leaving you wide open), which is a good thing. All in all, DOA5 is deep and complex, yet fairly accessible for those willing to learn, and is a blast to play.
Graphics & Sound
The sound is also very solid with great sound effects that really give every punch and kick impact and a nicely varied soundtrack covering a lot of different music. The voice acting is kind of mediocre, but that might have more to do with the goofy story and bad writing than anything else. My favorite voice actress (Laura Bailey) voices my favorite character (Christie), though, so I can't complain too much.