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Dead Or Alive 6

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Team Ninja
Release Date: March 1, 2019


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PS4 Review - 'Dead or Alive 6'

by Cody Medellin on March 1, 2019 @ 6:00 a.m. PST

Dead Or Alive 6 is the next installment in the long-running fast-paced 3D fighting franchise, featuring multi-tiered stages that create a truly entertaining competitive experience.

Buy Dead or Alive 6

There are certain tenets that the Dead or Alive series adheres to, even if they aren't officially stated by developer Team Ninja. The fighting is easy to pick up and play, and button-mashers can have fun, but those who are dedicated to learning the mechanics will find a surprisingly deep game. The backdrops are beautiful and interactive, and they play a significant role in how the fights play out. As seen with Dead or Alive: Dimensions on the 3DS years ago, the departure of Tomonobu Itagaki and some of the original staff members didn't hurt the series, and the release of DoA5 showed that they understood what made the series tick. However, some concerns arose when DoA5 got iteration-heavy and the available costumes neared ridiculous levels by DoA5: Last Round.

On the surface, Dead or Alive 6 seems like a by-the-numbers sequel. The core fighting mechanics still rely on a triangle system, where one move type always beats out another when they try to hit at the same time. For example, punches and kicks will beat out a throw, throws are more powerful than holds, and holds will always act as counters to strikes. There are now two types of hold mechanics — three-way and four-way holds — and the game lets you escape throws, but don't expect it to occur as often as Tekken 7.

The new gameplay mechanic is the Fatal Action system. By making the R1 button a new attack button, DoA6 opens up the ability to perform a quicker combo. It's kind of flashy, especially if you don't tone down the option for blood, and it can stun the opponent if it connects, but that comes at the expense of inflicting less damage and being vulnerable to counters. If you get a full super meter, which is brand new to the franchise, you can employ a Fatal Rush move, which is a slow-motion attack that hits for a lot of damage and knocks back the opponent, similar to the Power Blow from the last game but without the obvious tell before the move is unleashed. Also, if you use the move while at half-meter, you can employ a combo escape and do an immediate one-hit counter in retaliation.

The roster consists of 24 fighters, the same number found in the original version of DoA5. That's an unexpected number since most fighting games try to increase their roster in every iteration unless they're completely revamping the game or the engine, necessitating rebuilding the characters again. Here, you have the core cast of characters from the prior game, along with some additions from previous DLC, such as Honoka, Marie Rose and Raidou. Gone are some of the characters that would be considered clones, like Ein and Leon, while the guest characters from Fatal Fury, Ninja Gaiden and Virtua Fighter are also absent. Two new characters fill in those spots, with the first being Diego, a guy with an undisciplined street fighting style, and the second being NiCO, a Pencak Silat specialist who augments attacks with electricity. Both additions are fun to play, but it's a shame that Nyotengu and Phase 4 are relegated to being DLC characters, especially since both play decent-sized roles in the story mode.

When DoA6 was announced, the developers had stated that the bouncing breasts, exposed cleavage, and fan service would be toned down. It didn't take long before they took it all back, but in the months leading up to the release, this message constantly went back and forth, making fans wonder what the deal was. Now that the game is released, the truth is somewhere in the middle. The default outfits are certainly less revealing than before, with most of them serving as normal clothes or full body armor. The classic outfits are available for each character, but only a few go out of their way to be skin tight or reveal much cleavage.

The levels are both extended and slightly scaled back. The variety in past levels still exists, so expect multi-tiered levels, physical barriers, random junk and uneven ground. More explosive elements have been added, such as explosive floors and firecrackers on the ground. Two levels also feature onlookers that can push opponents the first time they knock into them, giving the fighter an opportunity to squeeze in another combo. You can't help but feel slighted that some stages from DoA5 are recycled in this title, and one of the stages hasn't changed at all. None of the stages are multi-tiered, and there aren't any opportunities to grab onto a ledge and counter the fall damage — one of the better aspects of DoA5.

That feeling of simultaneous expansion and removal of elements extends to the game modes. The various tutorials and training modes are fully intact and just as in-depth as before. All of the arcade and versus modes are present, but only single-fighter modes are available, as both group and tag modes are gone. The former isn't a huge loss, but the latter is going to be missed since it was around since Dead or Alive 2. Online mode performs fine, with little to no lag in a variety of matches, and the wait time to go into a match isn't bad, considering that the lobby system is only available via a day one patch. Prepare to always play in ranked matches, as player matches don't exist in the game.

Extras is where some of the more superfluous stuff is located, such as the ability to change music, check out the bios for major characters in the franchise, check replays of fights, and catch up on some series trivia. The most important option for players is going to be the customization section, which may disappoint some people. The costumes span a variety of styles, but although most characters have at least six costumes, many have the same design in multiple colors, so the costume count is actually much lower. Everyone can wear glasses, but the styles don't vary much, and there aren't enough hairstyles between characters. Worse is the fact that you can't rotate characters in this mode, so some changes can't be seen until you get into a fight. If DoA5's history is any indication, the collection of customizable elements will be corrected by DLC, but those hoping for a large selection of items from the start will find this lacking.

The final two modes are all related to single-player and continue the game's trend of having something great followed up with something that seems not as polished. For the former, DOA Quest provides the player with a very long list of challenges and some decent rewards. Here, you're given 100 stages to go through, with each stage giving you a preset fighter and an opponent (or opponents) to run through and three challenges to complete. Most challenges ask you to beat your opposition, but some ask for specific things, like hitting opponents in the middle of a sidestep, pulling off a certain number of specific reversals, or accomplishing a combo with a certain damage percentage. Completing each challenge gives you coins that can unlock glasses, hairstyles and songs, while completing all of the challenges in a stage grants currency that can be used to obtain locked costumes. The bouts are good for short gaming bursts, and the fact that you can use this to unlock stuff in the game gives the solo player something substantial to do if they choose to not play against others.

Story mode is the other solo-focused mode, and it can feel like a good idea in need of some work. The story feels like a direct continuation of the events from DoA5, with Helena's DOATEC asking for the help of the ninja clan in order to stop the plans of her subsidiary, M.I.S.T. This time, the organization's plan is to resurrect a cyborg version of the evil ninja Raidou with the help of some fighters that still carry his blood within them. Meanwhile, Zack is trying to get new fighters into the tournament, Jahn Lee is feeling disappointed that he can't find anyone who can challenge him to be a better fighter, and Nyotengu has somehow convinced a few of the fighters to retrieve a treasure from a sunken ship. It's all strange and barely connects, but it remains a welcome part of the series, especially since so many recent attempts by some of the bigger fighting franchises simply fall flat.

What may be irksome to some isn't the story itself but how it plays out. Instead of one continuous story told via chapters, the game breaks down each moment by chapter and character. It does this through a chart that's spread out in a way that makes it difficult to determine which part you're supposed to play next — even with the shoulder buttons pointing you to the next fight. Some segments are quick fights, while others are merely cut scenes, but all of them are broken up by cut scenes which, when loading screens are taken into account, make for a very disjointed flow. The mode itself only lasts about 2 hours or less, so it feels like it ends before it really begins, and it feels unsatisfying.

The audio is fine. The sound effects hit hard, and while the music from the previous game is better than what's featured here, this soundtrack still sounds good. Tracks are now being made for specific characters in addition to the stages. The game features both Japanese and English vocal tracks, but with the latter still sounding a bit off, you're better served by sticking with the original Japanese.

Since the previous games in the series had brilliant graphics, DoA6 feels like a step back in some respects. The character models look good as a whole, while the dirt and sweat effects from the prior game have been pared down a bit. Dirt isn't as readily apparent until you look in certain spots, but its application looks more natural than before. The sheen of sweat is still there, and depending on the stage, it makes characters shine more during their post-fight pose. The stages during the day have a brighter bloom, so they can look washed out, and the particle effects look toned down. On the other hand, smoke and dirt particles are more pronounced this time around, and even though the close-ups of getting hit with a Fatal Rush don't come with the impressive rippling effects of something like Fight Night Round 3, they still look good.

We did find that there didn't seem to be much of a difference when dealing with the two graphical options on the PS4 Pro. You're given two graphical options, with one emphasizing frame rate and the other emphasizing graphical beauty. The former works fine, but on the latter, there's rarely a time when you experience slowdown of any sort. When you consider that the game is topped off at 1080p on the Pro with this feature on, and it decreases to 900p with upscaling when you emphasize frame rate, it feels like the game simply isn't meant to take advantage of the hardware, and the supersampling for those using 1080p sets has gone to waste.

Dead or Alive 6 maintains its status as a solid and surprisingly deep fighting game that gets hidden underneath the readily apparent fan service. The tweaks to the fighting system only improve the accessibility while not hurting the more advanced players. The 24-character roster is refreshed, but the customization feels more limited. The same can be said for the levels and graphics, which are fine but lack any signs of ambition. However, DoA6 is still a good, solid purchase for fighting game fans, although it may not be the big leap that series fans would've wanted.

Score: 7.5/10

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