Dead or Alive 5: Beautiful on the outside, brutal on the inside

Hands-on with Tecmo's hardcore fighting sequel...

We rarely get the chance to describe a game this graceful, but that quality is the first thing you notice when you play Dead or Alive 5. This game flows smoothly, with each brutal hit, split-second counter or flourishing dodge blending together to create beautiful fighting sequences that appear more choreographed than interactive. Don't misunderstand, though, you're fully in control of the action.

Our hands-on takes us to the construction stage (used to demo the game at last year's Tokyo Games Show) and puts us in control of series staples Ryu Hayabusa, Hitomi, Ayane and Hayate. Anyone who played DOA4 will feel right at home - character move sets and speed remain largely unchanged - with the only new combat feature being a power hit. Hold, unleash, hit and your fighter dishes out a flurry of blows before finishing with a huge strike that lets you direct your opponent into any part of the interactive fighting arena.


In our demo we were slamming rivals into power transformers and smash them against cranes, which spill metal girders and make the whole stage shake. You can even knock them out of the arena completely and continue to wallop. It's a joy to watch - graceful and satisfyingly savage.

We went hands on with all four characters, and played several matches inside the construction stage you'll see in existing demos. The first part of the level is a roof-top filled with hefty building materials. You can knock opponents off the roof (a real highlight) and continue the fight at ground level, scrapping amongst wrecked cars and fire-filled barrels.