E3 2012: Dead or Alive 5 Hands-On Preview – Fighting Dirty
Written Tuesday, June 12, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Earning a reputation for the bounciest bosoms in gaming, it's sometimes easy to forget that beneath Dead or Alive's pretty exterior lies a series with an enviable pedigree as a tactical, fast-paced fighting game with some of the best interactive arenas in the genre. Dead or Alive 5 is the first instalment to be developed without the guiding hand of Tomonobu Itagaki, but it doesn't show one iota. And with seven years since the last Dead or Alive, DoA5 has most certainly been a long time coming.
This is Dead or Alive in every sense, from the cast of scantily clad female fighters each with their own wardrobe of revealing outfits to the unpredictable environments and quick, responsive action. As ever, button mashers need not apply, as only carefully strung together combos win out in Dead or Alive 5. The traditional Dead or Alive control scheme remains intact too, with a button assigned to blocks and counters, one for executing throws, one button for punches and one for kicks. There's even a new, even more advanced critical system for veteran players to master too.
Unleashing a critical burst, you can temporarily paralyse an opponent, opening up all sorts of combo potential, which is something for the seasoned player to discover. As fighters go, Dead or Alive arguably inhabits a space between the arcade accessibility of Tekken and the relatively hardcore tactical edge of Virtua Fighter, albeit with an identity and unique quality that make it stand out on its own alongside the big names in the fighting genre (and we're not talking about the boobs). Dead or Alive 5 is no exception in that regard, and might just be the best looking and most exciting entry in the series yet, with what are some of the most dynamic arenas we've ever seen.
Picking up the controller for a bout between Tina Armstrong and Zack to begin with, Dead or Alive 5 is every bit as intuitive as it's always been, but with the added extra of the new 'Power Blow', which is assigned to the left bumper and can be charged to devastating effect. It's a move that can also turn the tide of a battle if timed correctly, potentially activating some serious health draining environmental impacts. It can take a second ot two to charge a Power Blow, making it a risky tool in your arsenal, but the reward can make the risk all the more worthwhile.
During our first hands-on fight between Tina and Zack, we fail to harness the power of this new special move, but that doesn't mean we don't still get to utilise our surroundings. Simple throw moves use scenery on the fly, so in one instance, Tina boosts off the front of a tank at the edge of the war torn Hot Zone stage slamming Zack to the ground. A Power Blow meanwhile can knock your opponent into a helicopter to bring it crashing to the ground, in turn creating a new danger wall, or you can strike a rival into a barrier with a Power Blow near the chopper and it'll launch a missile at them.
As you battle, clothes accumulate dirt and dust, deteriorating and tearing throughout the course of the fight. This shows up especially well on Virtua Fighter guest star Akira Yuki's pristine white karate uniform, which starts out Daz white and ends up tainted by muddy stains and rips by the end of the scrap. We enjoy a round in a comparatively calmer lotus garden stage, with a bout between Kasumi and Akira as blossom falls majestically, before deciding to take Hitomi and Christie for a spin on the rooftop Scramble stage, which is positively teeming with opportunities to inflict additional pain.
There's generators humming and crackling with electricity, precariously dangling girders and more as we soon discover. Kicking seven shades out of one another, the environment frequently comes into play, with concrete pillars collapsing, causing the entire stage to slant to an alarming degree, sending objects toppling off the edge. We manage to land a Power Blow on our opponent, sending her hurtling over the rooftop precipice onto a car below. The rooftop crane buckles, and a girder drops onto the car, resulting in an explosion that knocks Christie for six. We leap to the next level below with Hitomi to finish the fight in spectacular fashion.
After a quick hands-on consisting of only three fights, we're already rather taken with Dead or Alive 5 and thirsty for more. It looks utterly fantastic, it plays like a dream and the increased level of interactivity evident in the stages creates an even more dynamic element than previous DoAs. With guest appearances from both Akira and Sarah Bryant from Virtua Fighter, as well as other familiar DoA faces like Ayane, Lei Fang, Bayman, Bass Armstrong, Hayate, Kokoro, and of course, Ryu Hayabusa making for a strong roster, Dead or Alive 5 is looking to be another enticing fighting prospect to add to your collection.
Dead or Alive 5 is out on September 25th, 2012.