(PS3 / PlayStation 3)

Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate (PS3 / PlayStation 3)

Game Review

Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sammy Barker

Girls just wanna have fun

It’s been less than a year since we last went toe-to-toe with Team Ninja’s curious cleavage meets combat comeback Dead or Alive 5, and now – following a temporary detour on the PlayStation Vita – we’re strapping up our appendages and digging out our most inappropriate fighting gear again. As its name so effortlessly illustrates, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is less of a sequel and more of an enhanced re-release – but does it have the strength to usurp its more established rivals in its third (and possibly final) foray into the ring?

Content is most definitely king in this upgraded revisit, with the paltry pickings from the original console release bolstered by the robust array of modes and options added in Dead or Alive 5 Plus. There’s now a full tutorial component, which schools you on the finer details of the title’s fighting system, from counters and combos to Critical Bursts. It’s somewhat dry in execution, but it gets the job done, and is intelligently arranged into chapters and lessons, allowing you to jump straight into a specific topic if you’re hungry for more information on a particular mechanic.

Elsewhere, you can now work your way through the Command List of each of the title’s underdressed competitors, and test your mettle against Combo Challenges. These succinct examinations of dexterity detail the finer points of each fighter’s combat methods, and should aid you in your quest to master the entirety of Milla’s mixed martial arts-inspired moveset. For a franchise that’s defined by its flamboyance, it’s unfortunate that this entire component subscribes to a more functional philosophy, but willing completionists will find hundreds of hours’ worth of content hidden under the Training hub.

Those of you that are already dans of the Dead or Alive 5 experience, though, will find adequate exuberance elsewhere. Five fresh characters have been added to the fray, including Momiji and Rachel from Ninja Gaiden. The former’s wealth of airborne acrobatics ensure that she’s a fine fit for the franchise’s pacey action, and a much more enjoyable addition than her stodgy bondage-based accomplice. Meanwhile, series favourites Ein and Leon put in their first console appearance for seven years, complete with spruced up movesets that see the latter excelling in lengthy grab chains, while his counterpart settles for a more considered style that hinges on heavy blows rather than nippy jabs. Finally, the perfectly groomed Jacky makes the jump from Virtua Fighter, with his distinctive ‘Burning’ bomber jacket and gravity defying locks in tow.

The reasonable roster expansion is accompanied by several new stages, including a series of colourful islands set amid the clouds that beg for you to boot your adversaries off. Other options span Sky High Tokyo, a rooftop arena set against the backdrop of a giant stone Buddha, and the wonky Desert Wasteland. There are also a bunch of new cosmetic extras, including additional costumes, hairstyles, and a voyeuristic Movie mode which allows you to apply sweat and muck to your chosen protagonist and take cheeky snaps of them while they roll around on the floor. As always, your mileage may vary.

Much like the core release itself, though, the gameplay remains very much the same. We mentioned in our previous review that Team Ninja’s done little to evolve the series’ main mechanics since its Xbox 360 exclusive outing in 2005, and that remains the case here. Power Blows – special attacks which allow you to trigger devastating set-pieces when you’re low on health – return, accompanied this time by Power Launchers. These enable you to suspend your opponents in mid-air, augmenting the opportunity for some tasty combos. The addition is hardly game changing, but it gives you an alternative outlet when you’re brawling on open stages without damage enhancing Danger Zones. It still remains a relatively accessible fighter, however, with button mashing a very viable strategy if you’re new to the genre. There’s an underlying depth to discover in the counter and stun mechanics, but it’s not necessarily essential unless you intend to play with pros.

As a consequence, this is a somewhat simple brawler compared to more complex titles like Street Fighter IV, and it’s letdown by the fact that it hasn’t evolved. Fortunately, it’s still enjoyable in bursts, and with the improvements made to the game’s Survival mode – which now includes health and points pickups – and the addition of Team Battles – seamless seven-on-seven skirmishes – this is undoubtedly the best that the game’s ever been. Even the online component has been overhauled, with improved net code not only minimising lag, but allowing you to engage in four-player tag-team battles with friends. We didn’t experience any hiccups during our playtime, but naturally the quality of your own connection will skew your results here. If you’re forced to play offline, then the farcical single player campaign is present and correct – but it’s deemphasised in this re-release due to the lack of new content.


Unquestionably the definitive version of Team Ninja’s flamboyant fighter, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate repurposes the panache of its predecessor – and pops a glazed cherry on top. The gameplay mechanics are still a smidgen shallow, and there may not be enough new meaningful content to woo those that have already had their fill of the original release – but franchise fans and curious newcomers will find a competent option here.

Game Trailer

User Comments (20)



Batman said:

Nice review, Sammy!
Here's the important question though... Is this the one with the, ermm, jiggle physics?



rastamadeus said:

Turned up this morning and I've played it feverishly since. Absolutely love it. Yes it may not be a Street or Virtua Fighter but its brilliant pick up and play fighting. Plus I have a girlfriend who's obsessed with cosplay and Ayane so its win win, haha.



rjejr said:

Has anybody made a "Girls Gone Wild" video game yet?

Not sure why that question just popped into my mind.



MadchesterManc said:

@rastamadeus You have a girlfriend who is obsessed with Cosplay and Ayane? I take it then she will cosplay as Ayane on the odd occasion? You my friend, are one lucky S-O-B lol

@get2sammyb Ive tweeted about forum word limit on PushSquare. Is there one? My review is ready but its pretty large lol

I hope the Dead or Alive series isn't going to be going the way of Street fighter with multiple re-releases. How deos this compare to DOA2? I ve not really played any since then



Batman said:

@get2sammyb It's an actual option?! Like, in the settings?

The breast-jiggling is like fox hunting i.e. hugely contentious but they'll do anything and everything to keep the tradition alive.



MadchesterManc said:

@Confused_Dude More than likely. It wouldn't be DOA without the Fan-service to some so having it as an option to enable would seem like the thing to do for those that want it

@get2sammyb Well I guess we'll see when I post this monster review up lol



InsertNameHere said:

I haven't played DOA since the PS2 ( I think it was a beach volleyball spin-off) but I really did like how the characters controlled, so I'll take a whack at this once the price drops.



rastamadeus said:

@ErnisDy Few new characters, guest appearances from four Virtua Fighter characters, new stages, etc. Primarily it's the same game, but isn't every fighting sequel? I bought it before my 3DS broke and didn't touch the 3DS version in the two-three months I had both.

@MadchesterManc Mate, you've got no idea, haha. Met her at a party a few years ago where she was dressed as Rei from Evangelion. Don't think my feet have hit the ground since then.



ShogunRok said:

Some of those costumes. Seriously.

I do think it's funny that Quiet from Metal Gear Solid V is getting so much negative attention lately due to her revealing clothing, yet DoA always manages to drift away from the spotlight. Maybe people just expect this from DoA now?

It's also funny how the camera mode in DoA5 can be controlled with one hand. I always thought that was absolutely hilarious.



MadchesterManc said:

@rastamadeus Haha still got your head in the clouds If its been a few years n you still think that then it must be the real deal! Not a device invented by bank managers as Rimmer would have us believe lol If you get a few minutes check out my Project Diva F review on the forum. Would be good to see what a fellow Miku-chan fan thinks

@ShogunRok I dont even wanna think about why the camera is controllable with just one had lol but you do bring up a valid point, One Ive always thought as to why DOA always manages to get away with its fan-service. Oh well. Im off to play DOA2 on Dreamcast. Keeping it real..



RaymanFan2 said:

Props to PS for managing to write a review on a version of DOA5 that includes all the bonus costumes without saying the word 'boobies'



get2sammyb said:

@rjejr I believe The Guy Game was actually recalled just to featuring unsavoury images of an underage lady... Classy product.



moomoo said:

I don't know if I'd call the game mechanics in DOA 5 "shallow". They just aren't as deep as a game like Virtua Fighter. If you gave a controller to an expert and moderately good player of DOA 5, both of who know, understand, and utilize all of the game mechanics, the expert would crush them, no contest, so it's not like the depth isn't present.

Also, the fighting game genre is pretty much the hardest genre to get into in video games. I don't know if it's appropriate to knock a game that is trying to accommodate players new to the genre for being shallow, especially when there's still enough content there to keep people already into fighting games occupied for 100's of hours. For people that would be interested in DOA 5, they wouldn't care about the insane depth present. They'd want to know if it's a fighting game they can enjoy without feeling like they have to understand every game mechanic in order to start having fun with it and stop getting their butts kicked by the CPU. As someone who never was able to get into any fighting game outside of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and the DOA series, I'd say what DOA 5 does is a massive accomplishment. Having depth while also being accessible is incredibly hard in the fighting game genre.



Fruitbat1919 said:

@moomoo Agreed totally. I love fighting games. I'm also way less than average in my fighting skills! Love how DOA 5 on my Vita is soooo easy to have fun with, yet still has more depth of skill than I will ever attain! I have played some online matches where I was amazed by the skill of the fighters. It made me go back to training to try to learn some new skills. A fun game....that I will never have the time to learn all it's nuances.

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