It was way back in 2005 when we saw the first next generation Dead or Alive title hit the Xbox 360 and fans have been craving its return. Dead or Alive makes it return with the fifth title and brings back everything fans of the previous titles loved while adding many new features to freshen the franchise and give Dead or Alive 5 what it needs to compete with other games in the fighting genre.
One of the most exciting changes to Dead or Alive 5 is the updated story mode which feels a lot meatier than not only previous Dead or Alive games but other fighting games too. It takes place across roughly nineteen chapters and gives you the chance to play as most of the playable characters. Each of them plays their role to bring the story to its climatic ending which you'll spend quite a few hours getting to. Not only is this a great story with interesting characters, it's also a great starting point for players to learn how to play Dead or Alive 5 as each mission comes with side objectives which will teach you almost every type of offensive and defensive ability in the game.
There are a lot of returning features such as the hold system which is vital to protecting yourself through dodges and counters and Critical Bursts which puts an enemy into a critical stun state and allows you to string a deadly combo that your enemy will find very difficult to get out of. One of the new abilities is the Power Blow which allows a player to send an enemy flying with a charged attack whenever their health goes below fifty percent. In some a select few maps there are even Danger Zones which you can use in conjunction with a Power Blow to perform a very flashy attack and take off serious damage. All of these are fairly easy to perform but for those who like a challenge there are still plenty of ridiculous combos and signature moves for each character that will take some serious skill to pull off.
Dead or Alive 5 features fan favourites such as constantly drunk and reckless Brad Wong, the insanely wacky Zack, the sensible yet powerful Helena and the extremely talented Kasumi but also features two new characters, Mila and Rig. Mila is a mixed martial artist who aspires to fight in the ring against Bass Armstrong while Rig works on an oil rig where quite a bit of the game's story mode takes place. Rig is an integral character and a vicious fighter which many fans of Dead or Alive will find enjoyable to play. Each character looks fantastic and there is a clear update from Dead or Alive 4. The hot-blooded males amongst you will be happy to hear that the ladies retain their famous assets but this isn't to say there's nothing for the woman with the men competing with them for who can wear the least.
By the time you've gone through the entire story mode and gotten used to each character you'll be hitting the fifteen hour mark at least but the fun does not stop there. There are various offline modes such as Time Attack and Survival which will keep you busy and test your ability to fight but the real challenge begins once you enter the online mode. Here you can battle against players from all over the world, although you'll find it difficult to connect with users in other regions, and earn titles and ranks to prove what a capable fighter you are. You can enter rooms and play a winner stays on style of play or you can simply set up single matches to fight against your friends or random opponents. You can also change some of your settings to allow random people to challenge you while you play the single player mode which can be a pain at times but helps mix up the fights every now and then. There is an online pass that is needed to access the online features but for those of you who will be buying a new copy of the game this will not be a problem.
A few other things worth mentioning is the ability to change the language from English to Japanese which allows players to choose what they would prefer to listen to, a wide variety of fighting arenas which look gorgeous and have really utilised the power of the next generation consoles and a smashing upbeat soundtrack which will keep you bouncing while you take down opponents, earn ranks in multiplayer and collect the five-hundred or so titles that can be found in the game for completing all manner of tasks.
Dead or Alive 5 is a serious contender for the best fighter of the year with interesting characters, an in-depth fighting system which is easy to play yet hard to master so appeals to a wide range of players and also brings something new from its predecessor. If you're only buying one fighting game this year, Dead or Alive 5 would find a perfect space on your shelf.