Dead or Alive gets serious
So, hey another post from me about DOA right? I know, surprising right? I recently read an article by one Vincent Ingenito of IGN. His article "Dead or Alive 5 gets serious" basically gave me the idea to write this. A quote from the article:
"Now, I would never try to argue that DOA is deeper or more competitively viable than its iron-fisted cousin, but its fluidity, speed, and responsive controls have always made it my 3D fighter of choice."
This more or less describes my sentiment for the series. I've always felt that Dead or Alive never gets the respect it deserves. Sure there is fanservice and the breast physics in the last game looked like gerbils trying to escape a water balloon but it seems Dead or Alive gets picked on for this when well....
They are hardly alone. The only difference about DOA is they are up front and honest about it. You know from the get go what your getting into and even if you find large breasts swinging at pendulous angles distasteful or even sexist at least you have to respect their honesty about it. That being said Dead or Alive 5 still doesn't shy away from that no, the pre-order bikinis are in full force in the collectors edition. What has changed is you have to actively buy into the fan service part of the game. Whats more breast sizes while not "realistic" have been toned down as well as more realistic breast physics that react to what kind of clothes the girl is wearing instead of just looking like the aforementioned gerbil in the water balloon.
The game has always been heavily anime inspired in their character designs but no more. Redesigned faces have lead to the girls (and guys) having more distinct and realistic faces. Not only have the faces been overhauled but the levels as well some of the scenery in the game is beautiful from fighting on a rooftop of a skyscraper in construction in the heart of the city to fighting in a beautiful japanese garden complete with cherry blossoms the scenery is varied and beautiful. And its not just for looks either one of the other big series trademarks have always been elaborate stages with breakable walls and secret areas leading to expansive fights with ever changing scenery.
The slogan of DOA 5 is "I'm a Fighter" which has been prominently displayed on almost all of the promotional material. Its a rallying cry for fans and a promise to outsiders who have never enjoyed the series. Dead or Alive is about the fighting. The second major issue that people always seem to have with Dead or Alive is that they feel its too "mashy" and casual. You wouldn't be wrong either Dead or Alive has always had a general appeal to newcomers the pool is fairly shallow. Hit a few buttons and Ayane is twirling around and doing fancy manuvers with out much input at all. The new Team Ninja is trying to change all of that to hit that broader appeal between casual players and the interest of the more serious FGC crowd. Few games have ever done both. The addition of a few new systems along with input directly from fans and pro players alike might just tip the scales in DOA 5's favor though. The biggest and most obvious change is the "Power Blow"
The power blow is a charge move designed to turn the momentum of a fight on a dime. After unleashing the attack a series of automated hits unleash dealing a ton of damage as well as giving you the change to target where the final strike will send your hapless opponent. In the alpha build of the game the Power Blow could be used at will any time in the fight. Fans instantly cried out to Team Ninja to change this and the move was tweaked and balanced accordingly. In the final build of the game once you are under 50% health you can attempt a power blow move. There is still one issue...the windup on the moves is humongous and leaves you extremely vulnerable. This was the next issue Team Ninja had to solve. Pro players would never use this it still felt like a gimmick that was strung on to a feature list and not a important part of the game play. Enter critical bursts. Critical bursts are the second major revision to the combat of Dead or Alive 5 specific hits on some combos will initate a critical burst putting your opponent into a completely vulnerable state. This is different from being in a critical stun state. Critical stuns allow for players to still counter using holds making the guaranteed damage of a critical burst a game changer. The stun state allows for JUST enough time for a power blow to be pulled off. This makes power blows actually viable in real play. Its the same fight changer that combing into a ultra in street fighter 4 can be.
Dead or Alive 5 has its work cut out for it. Its releasing in a month where Borderlands 2 is coming out as well as the more direct competition of Tekken Tag Tournement 2. Its going to be a rough fight both are great games Dead or Alive still has a bit of a juvinile image to shed. I think they are on the right path. I'll be honest I was extremely skeptical for a long time about this game. Metroid Other M was a pretty botched effort as well as Ninja Gaiden 3. The new Team Ninja is full of young and new talent so they made a few mis-steps. Its hard to win someones trust back when the price of admission to the show is $60. Everything I've seen regarding DOA 5 including my hands-on play time with the Alpha build felt great. The game looks amazing the fidelity of the character models is actually pretty stunning. This seems like a project that the learning from the previous failures was applied too. Just like the name sake of the game the reputation of Team Ninja might just be dead or alive with fans if this doesn't go over well. It seems though that they have build a ground swell of trust. One company that has faith in Team Ninja is none other than SEGA. If I told you at the launch of Dead or Alive 4 that the sequel would feature Virtua Fighter characters I would have been laughed at and mocked. And rightly so, as Virtua Fighter is considered to be one of the most dense and technical fighters period in the world. Akira Yuki's moveset is considered to be one of the most complex movesets in all of fighting games. On one hand lets face it... SEGA is hurting for money so that was most likely a huge part of this deal but whats more Virtua Fighter is a brand that matters to SEGA. In Japan Virtua Fighter is a major major part still to this day of the arcade scene in Japan. This isn't just about money for SEGA its about trusting their brand with another company. Its a company that has faith in Team Ninja's ability to deliver this as a quality product.
Even if you don't buy DOA 5 I hope you try DOA 5. Its a game with a lot to prove and it won't be earth shattering it won't win any GOTY awards. I'm sure Persona 4:Arena or Tekken Tag Tournament 2 have a better chance at being the next FGC darling than DOA 5 but at its core what Dead or Alive is all about is fun. Its the reason I adore the series. Its fun to shit talk friends while playing some local play. Its fun playing arcade mode and seeing all of the absurd ending movies. Its a fighter that isn't intimidating like so many can be. Its about just not giving a damn and not taking games so seriously. Sometimes, mashing buttons is all you need to feel like your having a good time. However hopefully with the new additions a more dedicated scene might pop up. Its the ever yearning question in game design. How do you appeal to the masses and at the same time appeal the core audience? Dead or Alive 5 might not have all the answers to those questions but at least it's trying. And dammit I'm a fighter. How about you?