Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate

October 6, 2013

Though not as well-known as other fighting games such as Street Fighter, Tekken and Soulcalibur, Dead or Alive is very much a popular series due to its fast-paced combat and, ahem, interesting female characters. Since bursting onto the fighting game scene in 1996, developer Team Ninja has released over 10 games in the series on a multitude of platforms, including the infamous, jiggle physics fiestas of the Xtreme games. The latest game in this long line, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, is not a brand new title, but rather, a re-re-release (the other being Dead or Alive 5+ on PlayStation Vita). As the name states, Ultimate aims to be the definitive version of Dead or Alive 5 (the whole shebang, if you will), with additional characters, stages, costumes and gameplay tweaks.


The combat system from the previous DOA games remains mostly the same in Ultimate. Unlike most fighting games, which rely on complex combinations of button presses and directional inputs, DOA‘s assigns one button for each ‘type’ of move (i.e. Triangle for punching, Circle for kicking, Cross for throwing and Square for parrying). From there, a rock-paper-scissors-esque formula is applied, with strikes (punches and kicks) beating throws, throws beating holds and holds beating strikes. This makes the game much more about being able to read your opponent’s moves and at high levels results in faster, more technical games. The vanilla version of DOA 5 introduced power blows, powerful attacks that can be executed once per round when a character’s health is under 50% and sends their opponent flying. Ultimate goes one step further with power launchers, which sends opponents into the air allowing for juggle combos, and adds a little more style and speed to matches.

Tag mode has been given a do-over, with the game now featuring unique tag throws dependent on the tag team, new tag poses and two-on-two tag battles for online multiplayer. Snapback attacks have also been worked in, which forces the current opponent out of the ring and forces them to use the other tag partner for a certain period of time. Other modes, like the game’s rather shaky story mode has been left untouched. Ultimate also attempts to smooth out the learning curve for newbies, with an excellent and in-depth tutorial now separate to the rest of the game. More experienced players can jump right into practising their combos with the new Combo Challenge mode.


However, it’s the other, more superficial changes which are likely to be the major drawcards for fans of the series. Firstly, Ultimate‘s roster is the largest in DOA history, thanks to the addition five new characters: Jacky from Virtua Fighter, Momiji and Rachel from Ninja Gaiden and fan favourites Leon and Ein, previously seen in DOA 4. Secondly, the game packs in five new stages, including the brand new, uneven ground Desert stage and additions from old games such as the Forest stage from DOA 3. Last but not least, Ultimate adds a huge range of costumes for each character, including some that were only available as DLC in the vanilla version of the game (although there are yet even more new ones that are DLC). However, unlocking all the costumes is no walk in the park – to do so, you have to either beat arcade mode on Legendary or play 200 ranked matches online. There is a way around this, with players able to purchase a complete costume pack  on the PSN Store for AUD$58.95. Are you willing to plonk down that much to play dress-up with virtual characters?

Overall, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is a decent package, although those who coughed up the money for the vanilla version of the game or Dead or Alive 5+ might find it hard to part with AU$69.95 for a game that is not that much different. For those who have resisted temptation thus far or are new to the series, Ultimate is a good one to pick up and will have you hooked on trying to master its combat for a while.


Enjoyable combat | New in-depth tutorial modes


High price | Costume DLC is a grab for money

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