Dead or Alive 5 review: Slick, brutal and bouncy - but unambitious

Packs a punch - and not many clothes

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While the story mode leaves us cold, the tag matches are the star of the game. Here you can play one-vs-one with two characters each, two-vs-two, or two-vs-CPU. You tag in with R1/LB, and perform tag throws with X/A. Judging when to sub in a new fighter is key. Do you keep a character in the ring on half-health because they match up better against your opponent? Or sub them out to save them for later? It's a balancing act, it requires skill and quick thinking, but it doesn't ask for insane reflexes or hours of practice. It's just fun.


In fact, everything in DOA5 is included to dazzle and entertain. The multi-layered stages where you smash opponents off rooftops or cliffs, into new areas are the best example. It's so satisfying to punch a man through a wall and off the roof of a pagoda, before carrying on the scrap in the courtyard below.


There's still a slightly unsavoury NSFW feel to some of the lady fighters...

There are missteps. The story feels superfluous, and is poorly written. Thankfully, Arcade mode offers uninterrupted solo fights at a variety of difficulties. What makes the idea of 'story' worse is that fighters look alike. Lei Fang is essentially Kokoro with pony tails, and new boy Rig is Bayman in a hardhat. As for the bikinis... they give the game that slightly unsavoury NSFW feel that, combined with the 'unrealistic proportions' of the lady fighters, will fuel 'games are sexist' arguments for years to come. Thankfully, male characters are similarly Adonis-like, so at least both sexes are represented equally quixotically.

Online play is fully competent. 16 player lobbies offer social interaction while fighting, and the ability to accept throw-downs (online fight-offers that appear while you're in single-player) is a neat touch. You can even spectate online matches too, if you want.


In all, DOA5 isn't perfect. It isn't hardcore, it isn't even a big step up from DOA4. What it is, though, is cracking fun, a fighter that's great to watch and feels even better to play.

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The verdict

If you want flash rather than hardcore excellence in your fighter, this is the game for you. Best played in tag mode with mates, not solo in the duff story mode.

  • Fast, slick, brutal combat
  • Inclusive fighting system that rewards extended play
  • Lacks the complexity of Street Fighter
  • Story is superfluous nonsense
Xbox 360
Team Ninja
Beat 'em Up, Action, Adventure