It’s been seven years since we’ve seen a console version of a Dead or Alive game, and that last one came out exclusively for Xbox 360. Tecmo Koei isn’t letting its fans wait any longer for a new game, nor will it restrict its next game to just one platform. Dead or Alive 5 will also be heading to PlayStation 3 this fall, and this fighter is a lot more than just another helping of buxom beauties.
I had the chance to play the game alongside Dead or Alive champ Adande “Swoozie” Thorne who walked me through the game’s new features and was nice enough not to kick my butt too badly. Upon starting a match, I could feel how much more fluid my character felt moving around the stage. All the characters have received new moves and tweaks to their movesets, but the game still felt like Dead or Alive 4 – that is, until Swoozie started to get serious.
Once their health drops below a certain point, your characters can perform special Power Blows that act like the game’s comeback mechanic seen in other fighting games. The difference here is that there is no penalty after you use them, so you can perform the same move as many times as you want. Of course, the drawback is that these moves need to be charged to activate and take some time to unleash. There is also a move called the Critical Burst that lets you stun your opponents and push them away from you. Because they both require some time to charge, the best times to use Power Blows and Critical Bursts are during combos and when your opponent is vulnerable. These two new mechanics add some strategy to the game without letting spammers abuse them too much.
Power Blows and the diverse destructible environments retain the feel of past Dead or Alive games, but these new additions take it to a whole other level. Stages have specific zones that trigger devastating chain attacks to your opponent. In one stage, for example, knocking your foe over a barricade flips him over to the other side of the stage that then knocks him into a tanker that then shoots him up to the sky where a helicopter blasts him to the ground. There also cannons, clowns, and lots of other stage additions that should appeal to a wider audience. It’s quite elaborate, a little cheesy, but what Dead or Alive game isn’t?
Tag battles will also make a return and put teams of two against each other, letting players switch between characters at will. New tag combos and moves will be introduced, but the difference this time around is that special character combinations will trigger unique attacks.
Visually, the game looks quite pretty and a little gritty too. Tecmo Koei told us that the developers wanted characters to look more realistic and less like anime characters. While their eyes might have gotten smaller, characters still retain their unique look with this new design style that actually reminded me of Namco Bandai’s fighting games. Additionally, characters will sweat and their clothes will get dirty as the fight progresses, adding more realism to the game’s presentation. Of course, this realism is juxtaposed by the comedy that comes from the stage effects mentioned above.
The game will come with a roster of 20 characters and 15 stages and will even include guest characters like Akira Yuki and Sarah Bryant from the Virtua Fighter franchise. I was also told more characters would be introduced later on as DLC, but before I rolled my eyes at the thought of having to pay for them (like I have to do with every other fighting game out there,) my Tecmo Koei rep told me character DLC would be free. Now that’s something I could get used to.
Dead or Alive 5 is set to launch on September 25 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. With just a few months away from the game’s launch, Tecmo Koei has sure given us plenty of reasons to get excited for this new installment.