Not Dead, Very Much Alive (E3 2012)
With the series disappearing for quite some time, many thought the Dead or Alive series was to never come back to form after 2005's Dead or Alive 4. Numerous releases that were teases, such as two Beach Volleyball games and even a 3DS spin-off (the series’ first Nintendo appearance) after the axing of long-time series producer Tomonobu Itagaki led many more to believe that this was true. However, at the 2011 Tokyo Games Show, Tecmo showed the world that the series was coming back with Dead or Alive 5, sporting a bold new look and a few guest characters.
Viewing the game at E3, I was surprised to see two new characters, Tina and Kokoro, being revealed so soon. Having seen the DOA5 game only in trailer form previously, I was expecting the game to play pretty differently from what I am accustomed to, but I was glad things played somewhat similar. When I chose Tina I was able to do moves in a way that felt similar to DOA3; picking an opponent on the ground was a lot easier to do when compared to DOA4. Although I wasn't able to get in and play around too much with the reversal system, reversals felt more intuitive, and hopefully don't use the awkward fourth motion for reversals that DOA4 used.
Earlier trailers for Dead or Alive 5 made the stages look like they would be easy to break apart and had a ton of danger zones, Zack and Lei-Fang's trailer in the circus containing the most of these. After playing around with stages seen in the trailers, I was pretty surprised to see that multi-tiered stage changes don't happen quickly. Characters move pretty fast compared to previous titles in the series, and walls seemingly harder to break through. Even the walls of the water Moat stage that guest star character Akira debuted in was hard to break through. This is good and bad at the same time, because the game advertises itself as fighting action, and not having this being accessible may make the game less appealing to the casual audience. However, that may be a good thing, because it allows the game to become more tourney-friendly, something that Tecmo seems to be trying to get in on by the looks of some other journalists at their booth.
DOA5 looks excellent, with tons of details to gaze and marvel at in both the backgrounds and the characters. All returning characters look different while retaining the things that made them iconic, such as Zack's overall strange style or Lei-Fang's tendency to wear pig-tails regardless of what outfit she's wearing. Tecmo seems to have thought of every detail, with Hitomi even receiving a slight facial change based on feedback from the game's demonstrations over the demo of the game released in March with Ninja Gaiden 3. Characters drip with sweat after every match and even get dirt on them as they get knocked down and tossed around. The wild costumes the game is known for are back, with a few classic get-ups returning and each character getting a new outfit. It remains to be seen if the guest character from Virtua Fighter, Akira will get a new costume, only having a palette swap available. Stages have slew of details also, the best looking one being set in a jungle with animals looking at the fight from a safe area.
With new releases in the series being so far apart and the title coming out this late in this generation of gaming, not to mention the solid gameplay and excellent graphics that the series is known for, Dead or Alive 5 seeks to prove the series is very much alive.
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