Dead or Alive 5 Last Round Review
If you’ve somehow managed to avoid all three of the previous incarnations of Team Ninja’s excellent Dead or Alive 5, now is the perfect time to jump in. Dead or Alive 5 Last Round packs all of the previously released DLC levels and characters, as well as all-new fighters and costumes to create the most comprehensive version of the title to date. With even further graphical improvements, 34 characters and over 300 unlockable costumes, fans of the series should have no hesitation about picking this one up.
After the game’s initial release of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Team Ninja released Dead or Alive 5 Plus, an updated port for the PlayStation Vita, and then Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate for consoles, which improved things even further. Ultimate was released at the tail end of the last-gen console cycle, however, and many people who upgraded to next-gen early never got a chance to check it out. With that in mind, Team Ninja has decided to release the most comprehensive, visually striking, and smoothest version of the game, Dead or Alive 5 Last Round, on both last-gen and next-gen consoles (even PC!).
Last Round features all of the previously released content, plus two all-new characters and stages and the ability to choose your fighter’s hairstyle and accessories. The next-gen and PC versions of the game also boast 1080p resolution and an updated rendering engine, which gives the characters a softer look and features vastly improved lighting effects. While it’s obvious the game was originally built for last-gen consoles, these improvements do a great job of hiding the engine’s age. You may notice some blocky character models and blurry textures here and there, but overall Dead or Alive 5 looks as gorgeous as ever on the new hardware.
Everything that sets the Dead or Alive franchise apart from its contemporaries returns once more in Dead Or Alive 5 Last Round. The roster feels balanced. The visuals are breathtaking; CG-level character models and beautiful scenery combine with fluid animation and even sweat and dirt effects to create the best-looking fighter I’ve ever seen. It’s also worth noting that Team Ninja has gone to great lengths to westernize the game, eschewing the huge anime eyes and cartoonish art style for a slightly more realistic take on the fighter.
The new characters – Nyutengu, Raidou, Phase 4, Marie Rose and Hanoka – are all welcome additions to an already varied and interesting roster. Each plays quite differently from the other, and fans of the original game will appreciate having new movesets to master. It’s a bit disappointing, however, that none of these characters have been implemented into the story mode. And a fair amount of the unlockable costumes still have to be purchased as DLC, which feels like a really cheap move, especially for the loyal fans that purchased three versions of Dead or Alive 5 before upgrading to Last Round. That said, all of the characters and a very extensive collection of costumes can be used without purchasing anything extra.
Power Blows and the all-new Power Launchers are new attacks that can be performed once your character is under 50% health. These slow-motion offensives send your opponent flying into the destructive environment, dealing massive damage. They can easily turn a match around, but some may feel they are a bit overpowered (you can turn them off in the options menu). These usually result in the opponent and the player falling from a seemingly lethal height, or triggering level-specific actions such as derailing trains. The levels are all very interesting, from white water rapids to a circus, a beautiful Japanese temple, an exotic beach, and many more. Survival mode is back from Dead Or Alive 2, and is a great addition. It challenges players with overcoming an onslaught of opponents with only one life, but defeated enemies drop health items. Team Fight is pretty cool – each player creates a team of 7 characters that are fought in quick succession – but unfortunately it can’t be played online. Unfortunately, Dead Or Alive 5 Last Round is also incompatible with other versions of the game online, but players can work around this with PS4 Share Play and the free-to-play version, Core Fighters.
While Dead or Alive 5 Last Round is as fun and addictive as previous iterations, and the graphical improvements are immediately noticeable, there isn’t a whole lot here to entice players who have already taken the plunge on previous versions of the game. The new characters and levels are appreciated, and the wealth of unlockable costumes will keep players busy for quite a while, but the fact that Team Ninja is still trying to nickel and dime players with costume DLC in the fourth iteration of this title feels greedy. The fact that the new characters are not implemented into the story mode feels like a missed opportunity, but there’s still plenty of entertainment to be found here for new and old players alike.