Dead Or Alive 5: Danger Zones, Power Strikes & Wig-Wearing Clowns
We live in a world where fighting games have made a bigger comeback than Elvis and Fifties haircuts combined, and as such we’re now under an avalanche of the things. Street Fighter this. Marvel that. Mortal something. King Of Blah. Virtua whatever. And, of course, Dead Or Alive.
The fifth instalment, power strikes aside – and we’ll get to that in a bit – isn’t that much different to the games that came before it. There’s still a focus on reversals: interrupt your opponent’s blows at the right time and you’ll break free of their attacks, causing them damage in the process. Of course, it looks cool as well, which is the Dead Or Alive way.
Fail to time it right and you’ll get an even bigger pasting. And Dead Or Alive is all about the punishment. Like its forebears, DOA has Danger Zones – places of the environment that represent big trouble for those forced into them.
Most of the stages have these, and results vary. Hitting an opponent into explosive barrel in one stage may cause a missile to then crash into them. (You’re fighting in the middle of a war zone, okay? We know it doesn’t make any sense.)
Smashing another foe into a section of piping on a construction site will cause an explosion, careering them across the stage.
Other Danger Zones change things more permanently. On that same construction site, smashing your enemy into another section of the scenery causes the structure to collapse, throwing the combatants to a lower part of the level.
Look! It’s Akira from Virtua Fighter! SQUEAL!
It’s not a new mechanic, but it adds an interesting dose of strategy to the fast-paced fights, especially when the new power moves are taken into consideration.
These strikes need to be charged, but for good reason: they give you the opportunity to change the course of the fight. You can use it any time, but the true rewards really come if you’ve got less than half health.
Connect with it after you’ve taken a beating and you get to choose what you slam your opponents into. Want to simply dish out some damage? Propel them into a wall.
Want to smash the whole place to pieces like the Incredible Hulk after a particularly vicious stubbed toe? Hit the biggest Danger Zone possible.
It’s gimmicky but satisfying. But what of the fighting? Much the same, really. You can’t cut someone’s head off or pull out their spine, but this isn’t the deepest fighter out there. Not that such a decision makes it automatically bad, of course.
It’s no Virtua Fighter or even Street Fighter IV, but then it was never meant to be. Dead Or Alive has always been about fast-paced, explosive action and women wearing inappropriate clothes, and there is no let up in that regard here.
If you can keep your head when the stage is collapsing all around you…
Our hands-on time gave us access to a handful of bouts from across the roster, and the fighters we duked it out with were pleasingly different, if archetypical.
The standard complement of wrestlers, martial artists and brawlers were all there, and they present a competent challenge even on the default difficulty setting.
The stages too are worthy of note: fighting against a wig-wearing clown in the middle of a circus is barmy, as is the previously mentioned war zone and fighting on a structure floating down river rapids.
It’s a marked disappointment, then, when we fought Tina – a wrestler whose attire is ridiculous, to say the least – in a ring and was disappointed we couldn’t explode the entire gym out of its foundations and see it soar off into the sky.
The real appeal of Dead Or Alive, like all fighting games, is, of course, two-player. DOA’s flashy play and Danger Zones are perfect for a quick blast before moving on to the pub, or just better games. Which, from what we’ve played, pretty much sums up the whole experience.