Release Date: March 1st, 2019 (Playstation 4, PC, Xbox One)
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Team Ninja
ESRB: Mature (Blood, Language, Sexual Themes, Violence)
TheDead or Alivefranchise is a fast-paced fighting game series that has been around for almost twenty-three years and is arguably most known for its countering-based gameplay and its female characters. At the beginning of the month, Koei Tecmo released Dead or Alive 6 that a new roster of characters who use different mixed martial arts combat styles as well as a collection of different stages. As the title indicates, this is the sixth installment in the series and it follows the same style and format as its predecessor, Dead or Alive 5. These games are not to be mistaken for the volleyball spinoffs that focus almost solely on the female characters from the main series. With that said, how does Dead or Alive 6 stack up with its predecessors?
Loyal fans of the franchise will quickly notice there are some familiar faces making their return, like Ayane, Marie Rose, and Hayabusa, to name a few. One thing that stands out immediately is the scaled-back approach on over-exaggerated movements, which was excessive in the previous games of the series. While the female characters are still “well endowed,” the unrealistic gelatinous vibe is much tamer this time around. The rest of the graphics are vibrant and sharp, though, especially for a fighting game. One other, much appreciated, addition is actually on each of the levels themselves. The graphics are stunning for both the characters and the scenery of each stage, but the real upgrade is the interactive levels. Each stage has “danger zones” which can be toggled on or off before the match starts. I personally enjoyed having them on because it adds an element from your surroundings that puts a little extra something into the gameplay. For example, being knocked into the ropes on “The Muscle” stage shocks the unlucky victim with some kind of rigged electrical fence.
Moving on to the game modes, there are several options for the player to pick their poison. Quest mode requires the player to complete challenges during combat to earn tokens and experience points. Earned tokens can be exchanged to unlock costumes and accessories for each character. Each of these quests has three challenges and requires the player to use a specific character. There are ninety-six total quests and they can be accomplished all in one match or spread out over additional attempts if unable to complete all of them in one go. Then there is the Story, which takes the player on a journey reminiscent of watching an anime series. The dialogue is super cheesy and there are several cutscenes where the mouth movements continue on well after the audio has ended. (Think old school overdubbed kung fu movies.) It is obvious this is intentional as the story makes very little sense, lacks continuity, and bounces all over the place with a very complicated layout and monotonous loading screens between every match or story path that the player takes.
The primary focus of Dead or Alive 6is crystal clear, and that is to be a competitive versus combat game, which takes us to the last play option: Fight mode. This is exactly what the player would expect: exhibition-style head-to-head combat where opponents select characters for an epic battle. In addition to standard/straightforward punching, kicking, and throwing, players can launch their opponent in the air, counter attack with “hold” moves, and have the ability to sidestep in a 3D landscape; however, jumping is not an option. Essentially, if Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Killer Instinct, and Street Fighterhad a love child, it would be named Dead or Alive 6. The newly-introduced break system is like the overdrive, power meter, or fatality moves in each of those respective games, but the main difference is the ability to refill this gauge multiple times throughout the match. I feel the new features mixed with the classic gameplay make for a welcome addition to the newest entry in this series.
Overall, the gameplay and control system are consistent with previous versions. This leads to a franchise that continues to deliver a quality product and caters to their targeted audience of loyal followers. With rich graphics, smoother gameplay, returning character favorites, an upgraded battle system, and new obstacles/abilities, it is safe to say Dead or Alive 6 is a clear winner from Team Ninja. I had been anxiously waiting for this release and was not disappointed one bit! (Dan Candia; Gaming Staff Writer)
Review copy provided by Koei Tecmo.