Google+   Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | DS | PS3 | PS4 | PSP | VITA | WII | WIIU | X360 | XB1 | All

Dead or Alive 5 (Xbox 360) artwork

Dead or Alive 5 (Xbox 360) review


"The petite Leifang no longer looks like she might easily win an arm wrestling contest against the hulking behemoth that is Bass, for instance, which lends encounters between certain characters some of the impact that they lacked previously. Even among the girls, newcomer Mila (a sexy and confident MMA boxer) appears much taller and lankier than diminutive scrappers such as Ayane and Pai. The female characters in particular seem to have received more detailed texture work, particularly where their arms are concerned, so that the models in Dead or Alive 4 seem almost like animated Barbie dolls in comparison."



Donít hate them Ďcuz theyíre beautiful. The ladies (and gents) from Dead or Alive 4 are back, most of seven years after their last console outing, and very little has changed. That means more bouncing boobs, more rippling muscles, more gratuitous panty shots and all of the usual tension between the various members of the ninja clan. If youíve always loved that stuff, odds are good youíll like it once more, while gamers who feel that theyíre above the whole affair will have no reason to see things any differently the fifth time around.

Dead or Alive 5 definitely isnít the sort of sequel that you buy if youíre looking for drastic changes. The name of the game here is ďiteration.Ē The visuals are more impressive, the arenas more interactive. Thereís more content available early on--in terms of the quantity of fighters and unlockable costumes and such--and the online mode is pleasingly robust. Still, a lot of the changes donít really call attention to themselves. Dead or Alive 5 is better than its predecessor, but not to the extent that you should buy it at full price if youíre already sick of Dead or Alive 4.

Dead or Alive 5 asset


Iíd have a tough time saying which of the minor tweaks to the standard core experience is the most important, but the visual upgrades certainly have to be in the running. When I started playing Dead or Alive 5, it had been a few years since I had last touched Dead or Alive 4. I wasnít sure what to expect, but I remembered everything being very pretty. Thatís still the case this time around, but now to an even greater extent.

Environments pop with color, and thereís a lot of background activity. Some arenas are truly spectacular. My favorite is one that begins as a wooden cage that has been constructed on a raft. You can knock it loose from the location where it is moored by smashing your opponent against a wall, which starts the raft on a ride down a river that eventually ends in a lower area that you may have seen in other modes but not even realized was connected to something. In another environment, you can smash a control panel to make a construction crane go berserk. Itíll swing iron girders around as you battle your opponent in the foreground. The resulting scene is chaotic and a great deal more impressive than anything Dead or Alive 4 offered. Most environments have something similarly amazing to admire, to the point that youíll need to brawl in each arena several times to spot everything. Itís all over-the-top, but thatís the point.

One game element that seems to have been toned down a bit is the amount of bouncing, swaying flesh. The ladies in this game are still endowed with some of the most amazing digital bosoms in existence, and that is still emphasized at nearly every opportunity, but now at least the characters are capable of turning without it looking like raccoons have started wrestling inside their blouses. The more subdued breast animations displayed here are more effective, and they help the character models to feel more genuine overall.

Dead or Alive 5 asset


Some of the other visual improvements werenít as obvious to me at first. Then I gave Dead or Alive 4 another spin, and differences became clear. In particular, I noticed that the characters are more fully defined. Thatís particularly true where size is concerned. The petite Leifang no longer looks like she might easily win an arm wrestling contest against the hulking behemoth that is Bass, for instance, which lends encounters between certain characters some of the impact that they lacked previously. Even among the girls, newcomer Mila (a sexy and confident MMA boxer) appears much taller and lankier than diminutive scrappers such as Ayane and Pai. The female characters in particular seem to have received more detailed texture work, particularly where their arms are concerned, so that the models in Dead or Alive 4 seem almost like animated Barbie dolls in comparison. Skin maybe is shinier now than it was before, but I guess Iíd sweat too if I were duking it out with ninja assassins and MMA fighters.

Besides providing a graphical update that some gamers may never have even realized was needed, the developers also tweaked the Story mode. Instead of providing each individual character with his or her own campaign, Team Ninja rolled everything into one longer story. I really enjoyed individual character videos at the end of previous Dead or Alive games, so the change disappointed me a bit. A lot of the random insanity (remember Christieís pole dance in Dead or Alive 3?) is tossed, and in its place there now are a lot of dull conversations in an oil rig bar or near the top of a construction site. There are still moments where familiar fare makes an appearance--including a fresh take on Leifangís traumatic encounter with the groper that is worth seeing--but the plot jumps around a lot and is sufficiently convoluted that itís often difficult to follow the events, let alone care about them.

The good news is that the updated Story mode makes it easy for franchise newcomers to catch up with the series. There are numerous chapters, which really are just brief fights with attached cutscenes, and each new chapter walks the player through a selection of new moves. There are a ton of grabs and throws to learn about, plus character-specific combos and juggles, so the smooth introduction to so many of those elements is a nice touch. I didnít like that itís possible to complete stages accidentally (without satisfying objectives) and then you have to waste a minute or so just to make another attempt, but thatís really just me nitpicking.

Dead or Alive 5 asset


Additional single-player offerings include a Spectator option, so that you can pit two computer opponents against each other and see how they fare (which makes it easier to admire the scenery and to study techniques), and more standard fare like Arcade, Survival and Time Attack modes. You can also spend as long as you like training to learn the many, many moves most characters are able to execute by this point in the franchiseís lengthy history.

If multi-player action is more your speed, itís also easy to take the game online. Youíll need to provide an online pass key when you first do so, but youíll find one printed on the back of the instruction manual that comes with new copies of the game. Once you are cleared to venture online, you can join lobbies and invite friends, if you want to have a proper get-together, or you can seek quicker matches with random opponents. I liked that it was possible to watch strangers fight online and basically queue myself up to play the winner, but the interactions donít feel as human as I think Team Ninja must have intended. Text chat is possible while you watch the matches unfold, but most onlookers are more interested in studying moves than exchanging niceties.

Iíve always enjoyed the Dead or Alive series, but Iíve never been particularly good at playing them. The last boss in each new installment has typically left me quite frustrated, but that wasnít the case here. There are a variety of difficulty settings, including an absurdly easy Rookie setting. Basically, thereís an option so that you can beat the game if you have any talent at all. The Easy setting provides a stiffer challenge, and the Normal setting is actually rather difficult (more in line with the standard experience Dead or Alive 4 offered). You can keep climbing from there and unlock some brutal settings that match your own elite skills, if you wish. Team Ninja really deserves props for making the experience so accessible for everyone.

Dead or Alive 5 faces stiff competition from the variety of other fighters available on the Xbox 360 now, much more than Dead or Alive 4 did at the time of its release. Gamers arenít impressed as easily these days as they once were, either. If youíre looking for an enjoyable fighting game that doesnít push the envelope but which does offer a solid experience throughout, youíve found it. If you have sampled a wide variety of recent fighting games and youíre looking for something new and refreshing, though, continue your search elsewhere. Dead or Alive 5 is more beautiful than ever before, but it hasnít learned any new tricks.

Rating: 8/10

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (September 27, 2012)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

More Reviews by Jason Venter
Super Toy Cars (Wii U) artwork
Super Toy Cars (Wii U)

The mini-car racer is still a fun concept, but Super Toy Cars is neither refined enough nor interesting enough to justify your time and money.
Shovel Knight (Wii U) artwork
Shovel Knight (Wii U)

An attempt to revive old school sensibilities that works much better than similar efforts often do.
ReignMaker (PC) artwork
ReignMaker (PC)

It's a real shame the quality of the hybrid gameplay doesn't match the genius of the game's clever title.

Feedback

If you enjoyed this Dead or Alive 5 review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Info | Help | Privacy Policy | Contact | Advertise | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2014 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Dead or Alive 5 is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Dead or Alive 5, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors.