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Dead or Alive 5 Preview

by Diogo Miguel April 1, 2012

It’s been a good seven years since the last main Dead or Alive was released. Fortunately the likes of Street Fighter have since paved the way for making fighting video-games popular again.

In all honesty Dead or Alive isn’t really the sort of video-game that gets compared to most fighting video-games. Instead it’s like a rebellious younger sibling that just wants to party and have fun. But it’s been a long time so has it matured since the fourth game?

Anyone purchasing Ninja Gaiden will get access to the Dead or Alive 5 demo. Not that Ninja Gaiden 3 is not worth buying, since the demo is more like a complimentary extra mini bottle of vodka, that the flight attendant kindly gives you. One of the striking differences is the look of the main menu.

It has a darker theme when compared to the design in previous Dead or Alive video-games. There’s also an improved layout so that there aren’t as many menu options to pick from. It’s definitely a promising start for the return of Dead or Alive.

There are a few new ways to play Dead or Alive 5 but long time fans can still enjoy it. The unlocked sections of the option menu indicate that it’s possible to play it in a traditional manner. It’s possible to make move lists visible and even change the camera angles. These are the kind of options that a fighting fan will make use of when the retail version is released.

Other promising entries in the main menu include the ability to watch other matches. Although not available in this demo, long time favourites such as survival mode also make a comeback. Content is everything and this demo has all the right indications that there is a lot to do, when Dead or Alive 5 is released.

Those that have access to both versions of the demo can pick from four characters. Fan favourites Ayane and Hayabusa are two of them. It’s an obvious choice considering that they are both characters of the Ninja Gaiden universe.

What is unique about character selection is the inclusion of character statistics. These were probably there in previous entries, but were just hidden from the player.

What it means is that players can now choose a character based on the preferred fighting styles. It’s obviously not mandatory but some skilled players are bound to take such statistics into account. Ayane for example has an excellent range of fighting moves but isn’t so good at throwing. It’s an interesting addition that works as each character will have an expert ability, without being overpowered.

At first the fighting mechanics might seem more or less the same as in Dead or Alive 4. It’s mostly true but there are some details that only those familiar with the previous Dead or Alive video-games will notice.

Successfully pulling off several fight moves in succession is easier for example. Other aspects such as trademark moves for each character remain the same. The biggest change comes from a special move that requires charging.

If successful, a player will then have the opportunity to push a character towards a particular section of the level. Fortunately it’s possible to block this move so that it doesn’t turn into the trademark move for spammers. But overall the flow of combat just feels more action oriented; which does wonders for a series that always focused on the visuals.

The way that players interact with a level has changed dramatically in Dead or Alive 5. Using the power up move will make it possible to specifically interact with items. It’s possible to destroy a generator in the demo level, which in turn will make the platform unstable. Previous Dead or Alive video-games employed the same idea. Yet it never felt as destructive as in this fifth instalment.

It’s early days but Dead or Alive 5 has certainly grown up. Not a surprise considering how different Ninja Gaiden 3 felt whilst playing it. After all change is a natural process of life, so it’s reasonable for Team Ninja to evolve one of its widely known series.

Dead or Alive 5 is a breath of fresh air in a series that was once in the spotlight for having an engine, which the sole purpose was to animate the breasts of its female characters. That doesn’t necessarily mean that previous entries aren’t worth playing, but there is potential in this new vision that Team Ninja has for the Dead or Alive series.

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