Dead or Alive 5 is back for one last bite of the cherry with “Last Round”. The series has had it’s up and downs over its 5 game history (including 3 previous versions of Dead or Alive 5 and a hand full of spin-offs) but Last Round is a high point for the series, even with its inherent flaws. Our Review;
Let’s get this out of the way with first. Massive breasts. Dead or Alive 5: Last Round has a roster full of them, jouncing across the screen at every possibility. They are always covered by some scantily clothing, strategically hiding the fighters nipples (and relative modesty). The odd and often hilarious aspect is that the boobs in Dead or Alive 5 are far from natural and bounce around as if they were made from jelly. It’s hard not to crack a smile of disbelief when a character is attempting to deliver a serious monologue and her mammary glands are swinging uncontrollably like they are a pair of deflating balloons.
Fortunately, the game play is anything but wobbly. Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is one of the tightest, most accessible and well designed beat-’em-ups I have every played that will please button mashers and calculated fighters alike. All of the traditional moves are there – tech-rolls, counters, high and low punches, kicks and throws. It’s really easy to pull off impressive combos and with some practice, you can learn some juggle combos that can be devastating. Like any good beat-’em-up, each character in the 32 strong roster has a different move set which require a different approach to make the most of. For example, Jann Lee, who is a master of Jeet June Do, is one of easier characters to use as he is fast and has basic combos which are difficult to interrupt. Alternatively, Brad Wong uses the Zui Quan (or Drunken Kung Fu) discipline and spends a lot of time lying down with a few moves which put him into an alternative stance. Using Brad means being more patient and mashing buttons will mean you miss opportunities to unleash brutal attacks.
The Last Round version of Dead or Alive 5 includes all of the additional fighters that were included in the DoA 5+ version on the Vita and the Ultimate edition for PS3 (including guests from Sega’s Virtua Fighter series) and includes 2 additional character. The first addition is Raidou, the McGuffin from the original Dead or Alive who returns with some cybernetic upgrades. His slow but powerful attacks are devastating but are easily countered. The second additional character and a débutante in Last Round is Honoka. Clad in her school girl outfit, she kicks some serious ass, borrowing moves and stances from other fighters and combining them into a deadly mix.
As well as two new characters, Dead or Alive 5: Last Round has two additional arenas to fight in. The first is a remastered version of the classic Crimson arena from Dead or Alive 2. This area starts on a rooftop but can transition into a dirty back ally. The Crimson arena has a lot of destructible environment features lining the walls of area like cars, neon signs and trash cans. Pinning an opponent against the walls and bouncing their head off of a car door is great. The other arena is The Danger Zone, a fan favourite from the original Dead or Alive. With an electrified floor which propels you into the air when you take a fall, this area is perfect for some huge combos and some damaging transitions.
Boasting a 1080p resolution with 60 frames per second on the PS4, Last Round does look better than the PS3 original. The effects in The Danger Zone area are particularly impressive, a shower of sparks and embers flying high into the air after each fall. There are some impressive water and light effects on show too. The game also uses something called the “Soft engine” to make skin look softer. Personally, I still think the characters look a little plastic but there is a definite improvement over the original.
The other addition to Last Round is a hand full of new costumes. 31 new outfits and hair styles are exclusive to the current-gen Last Round edition and almost all of the DLC from the original (including the Santa’s Little Helper pack and the Warrior Orochi 3 outfits) are included totalling 400 unlockable outfits and hair styles.
All of the game modes from Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate make a return in Last Round including the enhanced training missions and the tag match mode. The “History” mode makes a return but is unchanged from the original version (neither of the new characters or arenas are included) which details the lead up to the Dead or Alive 5 tournament, the relationship between all of the fighters and their progress through the tournament itself. The history mode is long but has a plot which is as cheesy and shallow as a terrible martial arts film you would find in the bargain bin at a £1 store. Characters often fight over the smallest of things like a spilled drink or simply walking into a room. It’s also worth mentioning that the first half of the history mode might not make much sense to anyone who didn’t play Dead or Alive 4. A lot of the previous events in the Dead or Alive series are left unexplained but have a bearing on the plot.
Dead or Alive 5: Last Round does have an online mode but unfortunately, I have been unable to try this. Each time I have tried to find a match, the game has failed to find me an opponent. I am not sure if this is because of a glitch or a lack of people playing the game online.
Remastered editions of previous generation games are all the rage at the moment and often make a good case for a re-purchase but unfortunately, Dead or Alive 5: Last Round doesn’t offer much of an incentive to double dip. As good as the game play is, the additional characters, arenas and costumes don’t add much of a reason to buy this unless you have yet to play Dead or Alive 5 or are a huge fan of the series. It would have been nice to see a few more fighters added to the roster as well as their inclusion in the “History” mode.
Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is the definitive edition of an already well designed and accessible versus-fighting game. There are very few reasons to double-dip on this version if you already own the Ultimate edition but Last Round looks great on the PS4, the history mode will keep you busy for hours (even though it is corn-balled and glib at times) and, most importantly, it is enjoyable. The sexualization of the characters will make some people uncomfortable but if you can get passed the almost-bare, bouncing bosoms, new players will have a blast with Last Round.
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is available at retail now for the PS4, PS4 (version reviewed), Xbox One and Xbox 360. The game will also be available on PC via Steam on the 30th of March, 2015.
There is also a free-to-play PS4 version of the game available via the PSN Store which includes a small selection of fighters called Dead or Alive 5: Last Round Core Fighters. Additional Fighters can be purchased as DLC.