Dead Or Alive is the fighting game series that has been around since before the Playstation 2, but most fans will remember it from Dead Or Alive 2 on that system. Since then, the title has gone on to appear on the original Xbox with Dead or Alive 3, the Xbox 360 with Dead Or Alive 4 and finally the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 with Dead Or Alive 5, and it’s re-release, Dead Or Alive 5: Ultimate. Dead Or Alive 5: Last Round takes the latest Dead Or Alive 5, increases it’s graphical abilities, throws in a bunch of extras and releases itself on our current generation of systems, the Xbox One and Playstation 4. Team Ninja and Tecmo Koei will also be releasing it later on the PC.
The storyline in Dead or Alive 5: Last Round takes place in the Story Mode option in the main menu. The storyline follows a group of characters and their interactions with the DOATEC corporation that hosts the yearly Dead Or Alive tournament. These characters stories revolve around training for this tournament, their sometimes run-ins with the Tenshin Ninja clan and a continuing conspiracy at the highest levels of the DOATEC corporation. People that have played the previous games will know about this companies history with creating weapons and weaponising martial arts.
What I really liked about the story in Last Round was that it focused (mostly) on my favourite characters within the franchise. Characters like Kasumi, Kokoro, Hitomi, Helena, Hayabusa, Zack, and a bunch more had their own little storylines and purposes within the narrative of the story. The story has a pretty straightforward narrative, but the way that different characters had different perspectives throughout the events was a pretty neat idea. Although we’d change Jan Lee being the champion and instead have Hitomi as the champion.
When comparing Dead or Alive 5: Last Round’s story mode to the one in the original Dead or Alive 5, we found that there was no difference whatsoever to the storyline itself. At points, it did feel like a lot of the assets were recycled from the original game without being polished over for the re-release, in particular the storyline scenes where Bayman is in that desert area, which has this effect where you can see the newly revamped models for the characters being displayed against lower quality backgrounds. This isn’t too big of a deal though, as the storyline sequences in this game are pretty much excuses to see characters duke it out.
One of the things that remained annoying with the story was that it tended to drag on for some of the most inconsequential parts, and that the main story involving the ninja characters was placed too far back in the stories progression. Even more, you didn’t get to play as Kasumi enough, which was a disappointment to this player that mains Kasumi. Seriously though, while the story on the whole was pretty awesome, and it had some hilarious moments, that drag does take hold at points. However, it does get pretty badass, and fun, so it’s all worth it.
Dead Or Alive has always had this reputation for being a fighting game with an easy to learn combat system that is hard to master. What’s more is that the roster of, something like 34, characters each has their own Martial Art for players to master. This means that the majority of characters have a different kind of rhythm and feel to them, and even the ones with similar moves, like Bass and Tina, play pretty differently. We’ll take two ninja characters for this example, we have Ryu Hayabusa (Ninja Gaiden!) and Kasumi. Kasumi tends to be more focused on strikes than mysticism, while Ryu has a lot more Ninja-esque moves that feel like they’d come out of a ninja film. And while both of their moves might be similar, the two have different playstyles because of their differences in abilities.
Fighting in a Dead Or Alive game has been pretty standard since Dead Or Alive 2 and has only really evolved in a way where characters are getting new and different moves, rather than a major reinvention of the fighting system in every iteration, like in Mortal Kombat. Characters can use punches and kicks, as well as holds and throws. Holds, in particular, feel a lot more harder to do in Dead Or Alive 5, in comparison to previous Dead or Alive games. However, if you’ve played a previous Dead or Alive game, getting into Last Round should only take a few rounds to get used to.
Much like in previous Dead or Alive games, by default, Normal mode is pretty difficult. However, I found that going down to Easy was a little harder than Normal, and that hard was a little easier than Normal. I mean, the opponents did less actions on Easy mode, and they certainly did more actions of Hard mode. Maybe it was just something personal where I’m better when I’m constantly on my toes. There are a whole bunch of difficulty levels available, from Rookie to Legend in eight difficulties. Game modes like Arcade and Survival hold records on the players score on each difficulty, which is always fun and challenging trying to one up yourself (or your friends) scores.
The majority of improvements in Last Round are visual improvements and content improvements. Dead or Alive 5: Last Round features some kind of skin engine that is supposed to make characters skins look more vibrant and realistic. It does do this, which is pretty cool. It’s really, really, nice seeing characters in a higher definition and using more detailed models.
There are also a bunch of small things that make the package feel like it’s worth getting on a current gen system (or PC if you wait). If you go through the options menu far enough, you’ll find a toggle for boob physics. I’m not making this up, you can choose one of four presets for the jiggle physics. You have none – which turns it off, Realistic – which is supposed to be realistic boob jiggle (it isn’t), DoA – which is boob physics we’ve all come to love, and LR – which is some kind of super-physics model that makes regular movement look like a painful deed for some characters (in particular Helena, with her DD’s that bounce almost the length of her torso). As a lover of boobs in general, I welcome this feature and would love to see more games with a boob toggle. Other things that you can mess around with includes a music menu that allows you to listen to the cool songs in the game, as well as change where and when they play. As you progress through the game, you can also unlock more and more songs, which continually allows you to get more out of the game.
I would say that Dead Or Alive is becoming some kind of dress-up simulator at this point. Each character has a wide-array of unlockable costumes for players to dress their characters in during a match. A wide-array is an understatement though, as it is more of a wide-array of a wide-array of costumes. I have no idea how to unlock most of them. There are costumes that are available to purchase as DLC, but these are purely costumes, and there really aren’t that many of them (for each character).
Playing online for us has been a pretty good experience when we can actually play online with the game. The online mode is actually really enjoyable, which is pretty neat. It’s also really smooth and the lag isn’t too bad either, even on red bars. However, some players might find that the stuttering caused by latency might throw them off their game a little, at least initially. It takes at least 30minutes to an hour to build a tolerance for latency. However, the online part is incredibly addictive. In fact, I was supposed to publish this review an hour ago, but I logged in one more time for more notes on this section and ended up playing it for too long. However, I will admit that online is no substitute for having someone playing next to you.
Overall, Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is probably the most content-filled Dead Or Alive game to date. It’s also the most technically impressive and prettiest, which is always great. As a Dead or Alive fan, I’d definitely advise to pick this up soon. If you already have DoA5U, grabbing this in HD on a current gen console would be a nice little upgrade. If you already own it on a previous gen console and have no plans on grabbing a current gen console, you can upgrade your copy of Ultimate to Last Round for ~$15 by purchasing the character pack.
Rating: Jiggle Physics /10
Dead Or Alive 5: Last Round is released by Koei Tecmo and Mindscape here in Australia. This review is based on the Xbox One release of the game with the review code coming courtesy of Mindscape Australia for the purposes of review. The author is a massive Dead or Alive fan, so there might be a little bias in the review. It can be purchased from JB Hi-Fi for ~$70 and it releases on the 20th here in Australia.