Fighting games are currently experiencing a golden age. Capcom's fighters are at the top of the roost, while a flood of other quality fighters are gathering ardent fan bases.
The world of 3D fighters are owned by the recent top-notch entries in the Tekken and Soul Calibur series, plus Virtua Fighter’s hardcore mechanics have stayed enjoyable for this generation.
Tecmo Koei’s 3D fighting game installments come in the form of the action packed, over the top and female packed Dead or Alive series. The fifth main game made its way to consoles in 2012, and now it has made a comeback with some important additions and tweaks. The finished product that has come from the game’s developers is the definitive version entitled Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate. This update up’s the ante of its “vanilla” entry and fills it out with more characters, modes, stages and even more customization options.
The most noticeable addition to this ultimate edition is the added fighters who have thankfully joined the fray. A new guest character from the Virtua Fighter series now includes the cocky Jeet Kune Do master, Jacky Bryant. Ninja Gaiden’s leading ladies, shrine maiden Momiji and the fiend hunter known as Rachel, also join the tournament. Dead or Alive favorites Leon and Ein are the last two add-on’s to the game, which brings the total roster count to a plentiful number of 29. Jacky, Ein, Leon and Momiji are the best of the bunch thanks to their fresh play styles. As for Rachel, her brute force feels all too familiar since her fighting style is based off of Dead or Alive 4′s Spartan-458. Four awesome characters and one lackluster character out of the bunch is still a fine present for purchasers of this full release.
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate makes an attempt to ease players into the hardcore intricacies of its triangle fighting system. The Tutorial and Combo Challenge modes are perfect for beginners who are looking to master the game’s overall mechanics and the entire moveset of their preferred combatant. Outside of the training mode lies the return of Team Battle mode, where two teams of various characters fight it out until there’s one man/woman left standing. Familiar modes such as Arcade, Time Attack, and Survival make a return here as well.
If you’ve already completed the Story mode from the previous version of the game, this update will recognize your progress (if you still have your Dead or Alive 5 save file) and won’t force you to play through it a second time. This has to be considered a blessing, since the Story mode’s corny dialogue, ham worthy cutscenes and C-movie action plot are not worth experiencing again. Another perk for players who kept their old save files is the carrying over of costumes and other unlockables that have already been attained.
Speaking of costumes and unlockables, there’s a healthy abundance of them here. Completing several modes will score you some traditional fighting outfits, casual wear and sexy swimsuits for several members of the roster. Plus, there’s online titles and bonus musical tracks from the series’ history available to those who dig deep enough. An awesome feeling of nostalgia will wash over players as they listen to old character themes from Dead or Alive 2, 3 and 4. Past stages, such as the Lost World from Dead or Alive 3, also pay respects to hardcore fans’ requests for this edition.
The Power Blow technique and the climactic scenes that potentially followed them made their way into the first installment of this game. Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate brings on a new maneuver that’s ripe with combo heavy potential – the Power Launcher. This new move lifts players high into the heavens and opens up a new slate of flashy combo opportunities. Expert players will experience a lot of joy now that they have access to two variations of power moves. The simple yet surprisingly complex gameplay is still as fun as ever, so longtime fans of the series have nothing to fear about this ultimate rendition. The bugs have been abolished and the right tweaks have been made to everything that matters.
Everything about this game seems to have gotten a face lift and the proper fix, except for the online mode. It took entirely too long to enter a ranked match in the last game and sadly, that still applies here. The disappointing net code will annoy impatient players as they’re forced to wait 5-10 minutes for just a single match-up. Players are better off heading into the lobby mode if they’re craving some online action. The long waits for your turn in a lobby and the excruciating wait for a ranked match hurt the online potential for this great fighter. The online battles run smoothly most of the time, though; it’s just having to wait and get to them that sucks the most.
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate does all the right things that a fighting game update should do. There’s new fighters, costumes, modes, stages and plenty more additions that represent its “Ultimate” moniker proudly. The lame Story mode and flawed online components stain this beautiful game’s image, but the hot ‘n heavy fisticuffs and awesome collectibles shine a brighter light on everything.
Trade in your edition of Dead or Alive 5 and take the plunge on this worthy upgrade.
Developer: Team Ninja and Sega AM2
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Find it at Amazon