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Posted on Apr 24th 2015 at 09:02:11 AM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC, Dead Or Alive



Dead Or Alive has long been my favorite 3-D fighting game series. While subsequent sequels constantly improved, for years the second game remained my favorite. That was until Dead Or Alive 5 was released and completely blew me away. It looked gorgeous, played fluidly, had an impressively huge roster and implemented a wonderfully ridiculous Story Mode that delivered so much fun and fan service for long time players. Yes, what made Dead Or Alive 5 so perfect to me was that it basically rendered its predecessors obsolete. Sure, I still loved Dead Or Alive II; I just couldn't think of any real reason to play it over this one.



The DOA games have always found their home on consoles, which is why it was such a huge shock to hear that Dead Or Alive 5: Last Round was going to be released on PC this year. Last Round is the latest iteration of DOA5 with all the bells and whistles you could imagine. Basically, this amounts to more playable characters, and all of the updates that were seen throughout the Plus and Ultimate versions of the game. The final roster here is made up of an impressive 32 characters, ranging from series perennials to guests from the Virtua Fighter games.

Just prior to the game's late March release, there were rumblings about missing features from the PC port. This was of course disheartening seeing as how there's no reason that any feature that made it to the Xbox One/PlayStation 4 editions should be present on PC. The big reveals were that the graphics would not actually be on par with the consoles thanks to the exclusion of the Soft Engine and the fact that online multiplayer would be missing at launch. So before we get into the game itself, let's take a look at these two concerns.


The Soft Engine is technology implemented into the XBO/PS4 versions of Last Round that make the skin of each character look softer than previous 'last gen' iterations of the game. While I've not seen the result of The Soft Engine myself (as I've not found a reason to purchase a new console), I'm sure that it's lovely. I'm sure because Dead Or Alive 5 is a lovely looking game to begin with - any version of it. There's no doubt in my mind that I'd ooh and ahh over something that somehow looks slightly better. And I think that what we are talking about here is indeed slight, the appearance of softer skin on skin that already looks impressively soft to begin with. So while I'll say that it is alarming that the consoles received a feature that we PC gamers must live without, I can't honestly list this as a serious con either.

However, the other concern is far more alarming. It's hard to understand why a publisher would launch a fighting game without online multiplayer. The consoles have online multiplayer, and truth be told, this PC version is meant to as well. It's right there in the menu, yet you can't select it yet. It's been said that it may be nearly three months to see it patched in. So why even release the game without it? I suppose you could say that giving us the offline game "early" was a nice way for us to play the game for a while before the multiplayer was ready. But honestly, a fighting game in this day and age is so dependent on multiplayer. This just seems like an odd choice. By the time the online mode is sorted out, many would-be players could have already lost interest waiting around. Perhaps it would have been wise to wait to release the game until everything was finished? It's hard to say, and I know that I'm at least contributing a bit to the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't nature of gamers vs. publishers here.


There were some other smaller complaints as well: two stages are inexplicably missing, there's no controller vibration, and no cloud saves or Steam achievements. All of these concerns are valid, but personally I can't see any of them as game-breaking. Would I be happy with the inclusion of any of these things? Sure. Did I even notice they were missing until somebody pointed them out to me? I didn't.

Now that we've gotten the nit-picking out of the way, let's talk about what makes this game so great. First of all, as stated previously, this game is downright gorgeous. If you've never played a DOA game, then you should understand that at its heart this is a game series that relies heavily on countering. You basically have three things you can do: Strike, Block or Grab; the beauty of this game is its simplicity. Ultimately, these matches turn into elaborate games of Rock, Paper, Scissors where reacting is just as important (or more important) than acting is. These matches can end in moments; they are fast and flashy. Watching players who really know what they're doing in a DOA game is like watching a beautiful and violent ballet.

Dead Or Alive 5 is the pinnacle of the series. This is a series that cares about the superficial, and jokes aside, it was always a goal to make these games pretty. While it's certainly easy to snicker at the swimsuits, you have to give credit to these locales. There's also a wonderful heaviness to the violence. When a well-timed punch or powerful kick lands, you can truly feel just how solid your opposition is. There's little quite as satisfying in a fighting game than the rewarding feeling that comes from sending your opponent crashing through these breakable stages.


Although we PC gamers are still waiting for the Online Mode to get patched in, Last Round offers up plenty of other modes to play through. Besides couch co-op, there's some nice Training Modes to get you started if you're new to the series; these teach you plenty of basics and even more advanced techniques. Again, the fighting system is simple, but it is elegantly deep if you're willing to take the time to explore it. The Arcade Mode should even keep you busy for a while as well, with its various levels of difficulty. Though it starts you out with Easy and Very Easy modes before getting to Normal, by the time you hit Hard you'll have a decent challenge on your hands (not to mention the several notches above that).

However, the real prize to be found for single-player campaigns is the Story Mode. The Story Mode in Dead Or Alive 5 is easily my favorite of any fighting game I can think of. To play through the whole thing will take you a good four hours, if you're watching all of the cut-scenes between matches. And you should be! What makes this Story Mode so awesome is that it plays out like a really insane b-movie that ties together the DOA storyline. I won't ruin any of the plot points for you, but I will say that this makes a far better fitting movie than the official Dead Or Alive film did... and I enjoyed that one.


So here we are: PC gamers finally given access to the DOA series. And to a degree, we've been given an unfinished game and it's also slightly worse looking than the console versions. So what's the verdict? I guess all I can tell you is that Dead Or Alive 5 is my personal favorite 3-D fighting game of the era. Personally, I'm thrilled that it's finally on PC. It looks great, sounds great, and plays great. While the lack of online multiplayer is a deterrent, online is in fact coming; we're just not completely certain when. With that in mind, I can at least understand folks wanting to wait for the game to be 'finished' before purchasing it.


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Comments
 
I enjoyed playing quite a bit of DOA and DOA 2. For some reason, I just didn't get into any of the titles after that. It sounds like this one might be worth checking out. I wonder how ridiculously rusty my skills are. Nice writeup.
 
It's a bummer that the game was released in it's current state, especially considering how hardcore the DOA community is about their games.  The first time I heard about frame counting was during an old 1up podcast talking about DOA competitions.  Shame that the PC people seem to get the short end of the stick so frequently with console ports, but it does seem to be getting better.  Look at how well the Metal Gear games turned out.  So maybe there is hope.
 
Aren't most PC ports sloppy as hell nowadays?
 
@Link41: No. There was a time when it was easy to feel like any game made for console first was meh on PC. And vice versa. Now we're seeing a lot of games that are being developed w/ each platform in mind. GTA V is a great and recent example - it took a lot of extra time to reach PC, but it's not just the console game running on PC. It's got many many new features, is amazingly optimized, works flawlessly when switching between keyboard/mouse and controller, etc. There are plenty more examples of developers taking the time to really consider how the game will be played or maximizing the potential of the hardware lately.

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