Punch, kick, block…it starts out with simple mechanics, but don’t let the simplistic format and easy-to-learn controls fool you. Under the accessibility lies a fairly deep and engrossing combat system. Dead or Alive 5 may be getting all the attention for certain ‘assets’, but it deserves to be praised for so much more. Having gone quite a bit into the story and messed around fighting the CPU, I can confidently say that this is the best DoA to date, and also one of the better fighters on the market.
Dead or Alive has always had one of the easiest-to-use fighting mechanics. This feature allows for more casual fighting fans (like me) to join in the fray and play a few rounds. At the same time, there are plenty of more complicated moves and counters to keep hardcore fighters in the ring. DoA 5 continues the tradition by keeping much of the core gameplay consistent and refining the details. On one hand, this approach guarantees that the strengths from the previous entries carry over, but it also means that there aren’t any drastic changes or improvements. The latter is more of an issue due to the recent influx in quality fighting titles. Even so, it’s comforting to know that DoA will always have the same charm.
The story mode is still a lot of cheesy fun. Newcomers Rig and Mila are lots of fun and the Virtua Fighter cameos are icing on top. In addition, the vibrant and action-packed backgrounds really make the fighting look dynamic and feel immersive.
However, none of the above is discussed when a new DoA game comes out. Instead, breast mechanics, discussions of sexism, and the limits of fan service become the focal points. It’s unavoidable that the viral topics are the outrageous boob physics. I don’t mind the developer Team Ninja striving for realism or even a goofy over-the-top effect, but when the boobs look like they have their own gravity fields, and even when the character is standing still, that’s where I draw the line. It’s more disappointing to me because the rest of any character’s appendages feels stiff and robotic. If half the time spent on the boobs was put into some realistic facial expressions, it’d make all the difference to me.
Perhaps the most disappointing issue I have with DoA 5 is that everyone is so focused on the boobs and girls that they overlook a very good fighting system. As a game, DoA 5 is a very refined fighter. It doesn’t deviate too much from its predecessors, but it’s always been a pretty polished experience to begin with. Boobs or no boobs, DoA 5 is a prime example of more than meets the eye. This game is more than just a pretty face; it has brains, too.