Dead or Alive 5 Review

Developer: Team Ninja / Publisher: Tecmo Koei / Platform: PlayStation 3 / Price: $59.99 / ESRB: Mature [Partial Nudity, Alcohol Reference, Mild Language]

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Dead or Alive is back with more bounce to the ounce in the fifth installment, Dead or Alive 5.  The popular 3D fighting franchise is taking the cross over road by adding some iconic characters from the Virtua Fighters series.  But will adding characters from other fighting game franchises be enough for Dead or Alive to stay alive?  With the recent release of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 it will be quite a task to compete in an already competitive market.


Dead or Alive continues to keep their original button layout: you have your punch, kick, guard, and throw options.  This layout is very similar to the Virtua Fighter layout making for a smooth transition for those Virtua Fighter fans who are interested in playing Dead or Alive 5.  The moves for the Virtua Fighter cast are pretty much the same with a couple of different properties.  The movement and speed of Dead or Alive 5 is a little faster than Virtua Fighter so timing will be a little tighter.

Dead or Alive 5’s gameplay is fast and action-packed.  Players will smash through walls, fall from rooftops, and get attacked by tanks and missiles in these highly detailed and interactive stages.  If you are knocked up against contextual “danger zones” in each stage that will trigger special cutscenes, prepare to receive massive damage.  Dead or Alive has always had an over the top action-packed theme to it and that returns here.

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Dead or Alive 5 also has a decent amount of characters to choose from, with more than 20 fighters in the cast, including the previously mentioned Akira, Pai and Sarah Bryant from Virtua Fighter, among others.  You get a good mix of ninjas, wrestlers, and martial artists to choose from.  Your favorite fighters also return: Kasumi, Ayane, Ryu Hayabusa, Jann Lee and more return, including new faces Mila and Rig.

The fighting mechanics make it easy to dish out attacks.  Combos are easy to pull off simply by tapping the punch or kick button in rapid session with almost all characters.  But with practice, just like any other fighting game, you will be able dish out maximum damage.  Certain strategies such as danger zones and wall positions, high, mid, and low hold counters, and power blows play a big role in Dead or Alive 5.  Power blows are attack moves that cause massive damage.  When your health bar drops to 50%, you will be able to unleash your Power Blow against your opponent.  This is a universal move used by each character by holding down-back and punch and kick together.  Some character Power blows is similar to this input as well.  Once the attack connects you fighter will go into a series of attacks launching your opponent across the stage.

The game’s fighting mechanics concentrates on the triangle system.  This triangle system consists of high and low priorities.  If you’re quick enough you can beat out your opponent’s grab with a punch or kick strike. Also certain attacks can be cancelled into each other depending on the triangle system.  Strikes such as punches and kicks have a higher priority over throws and can be cancelled by each other.  So if you wanted to fake your opponent out with a throw, you can cancel that animation into a punch or a kick.

Counter holds are extremely important when it comes to defense in any Dead or Alive game.  Counter holds are counters that stop an opponent’s strike in their tracks.  It will take a lot practice to perfect this skill because in order to perform counter holds, you must first know if the attack is going to strike high, mid, or low. You also need to know if the strike is a punch or a kick.  By pressing up-back or down-back plus guard, you will perform counter hold against high and low attacks.  By pressing back plus guard you will perform counter hold for mid punch attacks.  This takes real skill to perfect because pressing back plus guard only applies to mid punch strikes and not kicks, regardless if they are mid strikes or not.  This can get pretty confusing sometimes in the middle of a fight.  Also, when trying to back dash while trying to guard can leave you in a counter hold state.  This will leave you open for your opponent to take advantage of your whiffed move.  This can be very frustrating so you have to be careful on how you defend yourself. And it goes without saying that if you don’t guess correctly, you won’t block the attack, making it a very high risk/high reward system.

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Let’s talk about one of the most important modes to any fighting game: online mode.  Online mode gives you a couple of different options to choose from.  You have your ranked match, player match and Throwdown Fight List.  Throwdown Fight List is an interesting option where you’re able to add players you have fought to this list and send them a fight request for online play.  On top of that, you are also able to fight against just their gameplay tendencies via AI if they’re not available. That’s probably the only good part to online play.

Does online work? No. To be fair, I was playing on the PlayStation 3 and I know that they don’t have the greatest reputation when it comes to online play, but I haven’t had many issues with playing other fighting games online. The online netcode in Dead or Alive 5 is not good.  There are a ton of lag spikes and you aren’t able to exit a match.  You would have to quit the game completely and head back to your dashboard.  You aren’t able to search by online signal strength either, you don’t even see what signal strength your opponent is.  You are only able to search by region, rounds to win, and skill level, but not by internet connection strength. Since you are unable to quit during a match, you just have to sit there and watch your opponent literally beat you into the ground if they’re employing cheap tactics.  There’s nothing you can do about it.  But that’s not to say that infinites, glitches and other malfunctions haven’t been discovered in fighting games before.  Hopefully Team Ninja can patch the lag issue with online play but at the moment, most of the time, it is unplayable.   Also, there are no tag match battles.  All matches played online are 1 on 1 only.  Why offer the option to play tag matches offline and not be able to play them online?


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Dead or Alive 5 continues to keep it raw and naughty with female characters keeping all of their curves and posing in provocative ways.  There’s enough skin and oversized chest to keep you entertained for a while.

The environments look great and add depth to the gameplay with the danger zones system.  Just the feeling you get from kicking your opponent off a cliff and watching them hit the side of a mountain is great; it never gets old.  Other stages consist of circus rings, oil rigs, glaciers, and martial arts dojos.  Furniture breaks and walls shatter as you battle your way to victory.  As the battle rages on, fighters’ clothes become dirty and wet and stay that way the entire match.  This adds more detail to an already beautiful looking fighting game.

Dead or Alive 5 also offers a spectator mode where you can watch replays of online matches or watch CPU AI fight against each other.  While in spectator mode, you have the ability to take pictures of the battle in action.  From the Album mode you are able to view these photos.  It would be more worthwhile if you were able to save your photos to your console and set them as background images, but I guess Team Ninja just wanted to show off how beautiful their game looks with this mode.

Bottom Line

Dead or Alive 5 is a gorgeous looking fighting game packaged with over the top action and mature content.  But concentrating on looks doesn’t make for a great game.  Gameplay is simple to understand but still holds enough depth to challenge you to maximize your combo damage.  Unlike the recent Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Dead or Alive 5 doesn’t put an emphasis on whether or not it’s a tag based fighter or not, but it’s always good to have that choice.  The addition of Virtua Fighter characters to the cast was an excellent choice. As a fighting fan myself I couldn’t see the Virtua Fighter character cross over with anyone else; they work great with the storyline and gameplay mechanics of DoA.  Unfortunately there are only three Virtua Fighter characters to choose from. Being a Virtua Fighter fan myself I was hoping for more than just three characters.  Where’s Jacky and Kage?  I smell DLC on the way.

Story mode was a great way to introduce new players to the franchise but I feel they could have done a little bit more to cater to the casual audience.  As with the gameplay I feel it concentrates heavily on counter holds.  While playing the game I realized that the most damaging combos start with stagger hits.  The only way to get out of a stagger stun is to counter hold your opponent’s next attack.  This calls for a paper, rock, and scissors tactic to guess if your opponent is going to follow up with a high, mid or low attack, with punch or kick strike also adding a factor to the mix.  Beginners will definitely need to practice this technique while being careful not to hold back and press guard when they just want to defend themselves and not throw out a counter hold.

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While Dead or Alive 5 is a stunning looking game, I feel that they concentrated more on the looks and action of the game instead of the potential for serious competitiveness.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the amount of jiggle, it’s been a ridiculous and hilarious theme for several sequels now.  But what I was really hoping for was more focus on how to play the game and tools to improve.  I didn’t see that in this installment.  The online is bad and needs to be improved if the interest in DOA is to last.  Matches are laggy, with no tag option, and below par search options leaving a bad outlook for the community for Dead or Alive 5. With the fighting game community growing each year, and as more fighting games release, it has shown that catering to a new audience is very important. If you want your audiences to grow you have to show them the way.  And I feel Dead or Alive 5 didn’t cater to the newer audience enough.

It’s been over 7 years since Dead or Alive 4 released and there’s not a big difference in this sequel.  I was looking for something that would advance the series and I’ve yet to see that.  I had fun playing the game for about an hour, but afterwards I was just button mashing.  Not because I don’t know how to play, just because there was nothing keeping me interested to continue to play the game.  From past fighting game releases you have to add more in order to keep your audience interested.  What’s the point of playing the sequel if it’s pretty much the same game?  Adding content, extra moves, extra fighting mechanics makes for a more in-depth game.  Dead or Alive 5 did not offer this.  Hell, they didn’t even put in an introduction pre-roll to the game when you start it!  Looks fade, and with the way Dead or Alive is shaping up, it may fade as well.

6.5 / 10


  1. Geez! WTF are you comparing it to?? 6.5 out of 10?? Holy Shit! As a fighting game lover this game is not a Tekken or SF clone and it is the most original series ever made. Apparently the reviewer is a SF player and couldn’t grasp the technicality of DOA. This game is an easy 8.5/10 fighting game, if not higher. And to give it a 6.5 shows how shitty this person reviewing the game really is. I want to see what you say about Street Fighter games, they are clones of each other as well. Or Gears of War or Call of Duty, they are sequels for a reason. You don’t change a great formula to please some idiot at Machinma. TERRIBLE REVIEW!

    • Agree with you Sigmap.

      If I am allow to write a quick review myself, to illustrate the view, I’d be something like this:

      -Best Fighting Mechanism out there.
      -Brutal and hard hitting, like a Beat em up should be.
      -Good looking characters.
      -Long lived through online play and difficult challenges.
      -Waste diversity in combat styles and customized looks.
      -A lot of fanservice

      -Require some time to understand the mechanism.
      -The patch that fixes online lagg has not yet reached the western marked.
      -Lipsynch to voiceacting in storymode could be a lot better.

      Criterias open for subjectivity:
      – Fighting mechanism.
      This game allows for comebacks and turnarounds, and leave very few pauses for both players. Other mechanisms may rely on X hit combos and airlifting, ultimatly making it a 1-player games at 10 sec periods at the time. If you like fast paste and constant thrill, then this is something you’ll like.

      -Good looking characters. Both the men and women looks above average, however from eider practical, realistic or ideological view this may be viewed as a con. The fighters rarly look battle scared, even though they may turn sweaty or dirty if you put on this function, their faces will never become pummeled, bloody or utherly destroyed. There also is the aspect at practicality as some costumes would be really hard to fight in, (like a clown uniform.) and some may view strong female fighters as unrealistic. Lastly arch-conservatives may view some of the costumes to be too revealing or unethical

      This game should be graded 8,0-9,5 out of 10 depending on your preferances.

      • And should add that the innovation this time around has not been lacking. The completness and uniqueness of the main new characters make for a first contribution. Mila with punchmoves into bodytakles (Not like Tina), and Rig with his masked moves and fakes, just to mention some. There also are updated moveset for balance, and thus improved online play. There also are complete new gameplay features, like the nice powermoves, with satisfing slowmotion and also critical burst, so you get new elements to the game that spins it up greatly. You also have an updated training mode, that challenge you to be able to complete all the moves of the different character, not to mention that you not have the possiblity to put moveset on screen so you can analyse them in real time.
        There also are unique new “weapons” in the dangerzones, where these are more dangerus than ever. i mean you get nuked by a tiger, A TIGER. Ehem. Sorry, I like tigers.

        Anyways, I could go on in the innovative departement, and but there also are some new features I would call spoiling to not let people figure out for themselves, where there might take hours for some, and others are hidden until you think back on how DoA4 was.

        Anyways, this got a bit long so I’ll just quit before I scare you away from reading 50% of it or so.

  2. So why would you give it a 8.5?

    • Amazing visuals, Innovative battle system, amazing interactive environments, and Intuitive Comabt System. I admit it has alot of the same stuff from previous games, but I also has alot of stuff that wasn’t in earlier titles. To praise it for all these things then give a 6.5 because it happens to be a sequel title is bullshit. Of course it is going to be very similar to DOA 4, but what about MW3 and Gears of War 3?? They are mirror images of their prequels as well with a couple new things thrown in, but that is what sequels are all about. Definitely an 8.5 of 10.

      • sorry about all the errors i rarely proof read my shit.

      • You pretty much just said what I said in the review. It looks great… But yes I’m a SF fan. I’m also a Tekken fan. I’m also a DOA fan. But Team Ninja didn’t add too much to ths sequel. The SF series for example. SF2 Turbo added a Super Meter to perform Super attacks. This gives the game more depth, strategy and fighting mechanics… And it was fun to use. SF3 added a parrying system… and it was fun to use. SF4 added the focus system…and it was fun to use. SF stuck to what made them successful and improved on it by adding DEPTH. DOA has always been the same with no advancement besides adding 3 Virtua Fighter characters… You need more than that these days with all of the fighting games that are releasing. Tekken for example added a ton of extras. Full character customization, +55 characters, free DLC and not just costumes! An online feature that works. World Tekken Federation to track your stats, the first time ANY fighting game has done that. And great gameplay that doesn’t concentrate on one mechanic (countering). I like DOA but it’s been more than 7 years since they released DOA. They should of have way more content then what they have. I stand by my 6.5 rating. Hell SkullGirls had more content than DOA…js. I mean come on! It doesn’t even have tag matches online. Why offer it offline and not have it online?

  3. 8.5 or higher for sure this doa is the best in the series hands down feels more balance like doau with the speed of doa4

    • sigmapsicharlie you just posted with a different name didn’t you.

      • Best comment I’ve seen all week lol

      • Maybe I was a little to harsh on DoA… But I know Team Ninja and their incomplete games they’ve been releasing lately. I’m a proud owner of Ninja Gaiden 3…nuff said.

      • GuardianOfAsgaard

        I’m not sure why you think other games they’ve made (outside of previous DOA titles) are relevant to the score this game receives. See Gearbox with both Duke Nukem Forever and Borderlands 2.

  4. I could not find a review of Dead or Alive 4 on this site. I’m curious, how much (out of ten) would this reviewer score Dead or Alive 4?

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