Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate Review
Fighting games suffer from a serious case of perfectionism. Following in the footsteps of Street Fighter, Tekken, and Street Fighter X Tekken, Tecmo Koei’s Dead or Alive 5 is getting an updated version less than a year later with Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate. Should you upgrade to the latest model, or is this fighter a lemon?
Fighting game fans unfamiliar to the world of Dead or Alive 5 (or even the Dead or Alive series) will feel right at home with the engine in place here. Much like Namco Bandai’s Tekken series, the 3D fighting places an emphasis on juggling your opponent and sidestepping when appropriate. Instead of using a limb-based combat system, however, counters are key. Breaking an opponent’s rhythm offers up a risk-reward mechanic that makes for a solid comeback system. It might not be the deepest fighting system out there, but trading depth for finesse makes it far more accessible for more players.
So how does Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate improve on last year’s release? It depends what you’re looking for. Features like the nonsensical story mode, arcade mode, and even menus have been lifted directly from the original game, making it feel like more of the same at first glance. Rather, the new additions made to the game are far more subtle.
For one, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate gives you more characters to play with. Not only is the 29-character roster completely unlocked from the start, new additions from Ninja Gaiden and Virtua Fighter make their appearance on the roster. While it is true that the Virtua Fighter crew has a slightly higher learning curve, these different universes gel well without becoming off-putting or unfair. Throw in some new costumes and stages (complete with dynamic “Danger Zones”), and you’ve got some new visual candy to feast your eyes on.
Perhaps the greatest addition to Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate comes in the complete overhaul of its online mode. The original Dead or Alive 5’s bevy of options (including an in-game friends list, replay feature, and solid netcode) are still present in Ultimate, but the addition of Character Points encourage the mastery of each character. Fighters can also sync up with Dead or Alive 5 Core Fighters players (the free-to-play version of the game), making for an even larger user base. Paired with a Prize Fighter system that encourages top-tier play, and you’ve got a mode that encourages versus play. Time will tell if the modes will still remain popular, but what is here will no doubt foster competitive play.
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is a refinement done right. Not only is it the definitive version for new players, it also provides enough new options for fans of the series to enjoy. Those who enjoy the world of Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate need not fear — Ultimate is tournament-worthy.
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is a refinement to an already solid game.