By Dean Moses
Game: Dead or Alive 6
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Rating: M for Mature
There are very few new and successful fighting game IPs these days. All the top selling titles include such names as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, and, the newest release, Dead or Alive.
All Beauty and No Brains
Dead or Alive 6 is but the latest in a franchise that dates back to the mid-1990s. Over the years the series has been accused of processing overly provocative character models and a simplified fighting system when compared to its counterparts. Nevertheless, it has always been a fun experience despite its flaws. We follow a ragtag group of fighters as they plow through a nonsensical narrative. The story is not well-acted nor is it particularly riveting; the plot feels like an afterthought developer Team Ninja plopped into the game to beef up its already limited gameplay options. Still, we are not brought into this wacky universe by the promise of engaging writing, we are sucked in by the shiny graphics and heart-pounding action.
All the Right Moves
I must admit Dead or Alive is one of my favorite fighting game fran-chises, even since I first played it on the Dreamcast all those years ago. I was instantly taken in by the fast and fluid movement, and the way characters are flung back by a single punch, although perhaps most impressively of all are the screen transitions. You see the edge of (most) stages don’t halt the action, adversaries can be hurled over the edge of cliffs, into armored tanks, electrified fences, and more that give way to new areas in which to continue the brawl. This may sound like mayhem, yet controlling the chaos is rather simple. Punch, kick, grapple, and block are all mapped to the controller’s face but-tons, making it easy to perform combos. The objective is to try and predict your opponent’s next move while also coming up with an appropriate response, almost like a rock, paper, scissors style of play. While all these are returning features, a new addition comes in the form of the combo meter, a blue bar just beneath your fighter’s health that when full can be used to unleash a devastating combo.
A New Level of Fun
The aforementioned combo also takes an aesthetical toll, leaving characters with bloody faces and torn clothing. Talking of visuals, the game is no slouch in that department either, yet I can’t shake the feeling that the developer could have added a little extra polish. Graphically, the game feels more like an update than a whole new experience. However, in terms of level design this could be one of the best in the entire series. From Jurassic Park-esque levels complete with dinosaurs and a pirate ship shadowed by a gigantic octopus, to a museum filled with small portions of old stages from past games, these designs are a joy to play in.
The problem with Dead or Alive 6 is that it feels too similar to past entries while lacking in some of the franchise’s best features, such as the absence of online lobbies—a social foyer in which players can chat in and construct tag teams before fights—and the inclusion of fewer costumes compared to prede-cessors with the notation of making them paid DLC down the line. Despite lacking substance, the gameplay remains as enjoyable as ever.