Team Ninja hasn't released a numbered Dead or Alive since late 2005. Since the Xbox 360's launch, fans have only received titles that were devoted to ogling the game's female cast, and there was also a 3DS portable release, Dead or Alive: Dimensions. In the fighting game community, seven years can be a very, very long time, but that has come to an end with Dead or Alive 5 — the series' first multiplatform-at-launch release and the first major title since the departure of Tomonobu Itagaki from Team Ninja. In the hands of Kohei Shibata, Dead or Alive 5 doubles down on many of the series' signature elements and makes several other additions to bring it into the modern age. Shibata was on hand at E3 2012 to show off the game to the press.
First of all, there's the game's theme: "Fighting Entertainment." The idea is that the game should be easy to enjoy for everyone, and that's represented by the introduction of dedicated casual and pro modes. Casual is slower and more relaxed. Flashy Power Blows are usable only when a character is at or below 50% of his/her life bar. These strikes are most valuable for their ability to precisely control where an opponent is launched — akin to BlazBlue's Astral Finishes, which launch opponents into stage hazards. Examples include knocking an opponent into a helicopter, causing it to explode, or knocking someone into the mouth of a giant clown in a circus level, causing him to get loaded into the cannon. Other elements of the game system also lead into Power Blows. Critical Hits are more tightly defined, but cannot be countered and potentially open up an opponent to a Power Blow to end the match.
A lot of elements are returning, including the signature Tag Matches; 20-plus planned characters, including Bass Armstrong; jiggle physics for the famously busty female fighters; a robust training mode; and top-notch graphics, which emphasize dirt and sweat for a rougher feel.
Also new are two guest fighters from Virtua Fighter 5. While the main character of that long-lasting series, Akira Yuki, was a known guest fighter prior to E3, another character was announced at E3, Virtua Fighter mainstay Sarah Bryant. When asked why Virtua Fighter was chosen as the source for guest fighters — across from Tecmo-Koei's booth, Sega had many stations devoted to the just-released Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown — Shibata made clear that the series commands significant respect and was an excellent addition. He also noted that both would play very similarly to how they play in Virtua Fighter 5, so fans of the VF series should be right at home.
Dead or Alive 5 is joining a busy fighting game market in September, but as one of a few 3-D fighters, its combination of new elements might allow it to break into the market with exceptional force.
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