After a long hiatus, Dead or Alive is set to return to consoles later this year with Dead or Alive 5. It’s the first game in the series to be given a simultaneous release on multiple platforms and the first home console instalment to make its way to the PlayStation, since 2000’s Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore, but is this the sign of a new, reinvented Dead or Alive game?
The short answer is no. After the time we spent with the game’s demo, we can confirm that Dead or Alive is still Dead or Alive, but that isn’t a bad thing. Combat is mostly focused on punches, kicks and one button combos, rather than the long, skilful combos you find in other fighting franchises. Your hands aren’t your only weapon though and the game will let you interact with the environment, by throwing bricks and kicking your opponent into a wall or object.
The demo we played gave us access to the game’s Construction stage, which seems to make heavy use of these interactions. As the name suggests, the arena is set around a construction site, so there’s bits of rubble on the floor, which is surrounded by temporary fences and generators. Kick your opponent hard enough into one of these and you’ll deal a substantial amount of damage to their health or, if you pick the right point, send them flying out of the arena, and down into a second area.
Varied character animations help the action to flow and fights look less like a street brawl and more like a choreographed scene from an action film, which is greatly impressive. Especially in the alpha build of a game.
There’s no point in hiding the fact that Dead or Alive has always been about busty female characters, as well as fighting mechanics and interesting arenas and although Team Ninja and Tecmo Koei have added a few more clothes into the mix, the franchise’s trademark breast physics are still here.
Through its accessibility to players who aren’t hardened to the genre and explosive action and thanks to its interactive environments, Dead or Alive is set to return with a bang. If Team Ninja use the time before release wisely to fix the few issues and bugs we encountered during our time with the demo, Dead or Alive 5 could become one of the most polished and entertaining fighting experiences in recent years.
Dead or Alive 5 is set to release this September for Xbox 360 and PS3. You can pre-order a copy of the game here (360) or here (PS3), for £38.86