With now officially less than a month to go until its September 25th release, Dead or Alive 5 is making an emphatic return to consoles after coming off a seven year hiatus, quelling the dire anticipation among many DoA fans since last being treated to Dead or Alive 4 back in December of 2005 for the Xbox 360.
However, while it has been seven long years since we last saw a console version of Dead or Alive, the franchise has seen a much longer absence from Sony’s PlayStation brand. It has been more than a decade since a Dead or Alive game last appeared on any of Sony’s PlayStation console. In fact, it has been exactly twelve (correct: 12) long years since the PlayStation platform caught a glimpse of a Dead or Alive fighting game, making a last showing on the PlayStation 2 back in 2000 with Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore.
Intriguingly enough, along with the debut of the first Dead or Alive title on the Sega Saturn back in September of 1997, it was the original PlayStation that also helped paved the way for the Dead or Alive series a year later in 1998, gaining more recognition on home consoles and giving the series even further success outside of its already well-established Arcade release back in 1996.
In December of 2000, the PlayStation 2 received a beefed up version of Dead or Alive 2, dubbed as the Hardcore version, which was released several months later after making its debut on the Sega Dreamcast, featuring more outfits, new stages, english voice-overs and a plethora of other features. Sadly, despite all of the welcoming new additions to the PS2 version, the title was plagued with an oversaturation of lighting effects, which caused an overall distraction from the game’s overall attraction. Tomonobu Itagaki, former leader of Team Ninja, along with his group, was not pleased with the results. It was here that marked an end for the Dead or Alive series on the PlayStation brand for a long time to come.
Almost a year later in November of 2001, Dead or Alive 3 made an exclusive debut alongside the launch of the original Xbox. Gamers and Dead or Alive fans alike were instantly floored by the game’s new stunning visuals, environments, characters and new gameplay mechanics. However, some long-time Dead or Alive fans, mostly and strictly PlayStation owners who did not make the Xbox leap, felt an ultimate betrayal behind the game’s sealed and exclusive deal to Microsoft. Following the success of Dead or Alive 3, the Xbox brand would become the ideal platform for future iterations of DoA, seeing Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate in 2004, followed by Dead or Alive 4 in 2005 for the Xbox 360.
In June of 2008, Tomonobu Itagaki made a surprising announcement, confirming that he would be departing from Team Ninja and suing Tecmo over unpaid bonuses. In a letter addressed to his fans, Itagaki expressed great gratitude letting them all know that he would not be able to work on Dead or Alive 5. For DoA fans, this news came as a devastating blow, leaving many passionate followers of the series with an uncertain future in regards to their favorite fighter.
Three years later after a much reconstruction to Team Ninja, new leader, Yosuke Hayashi, announced on September 14th of 2011 at the Tokyo Game Show that Dead or Alive 5 was in production, uplifting the spirit of Dead or Alive fans across the world. The news only got better from there. It was here that PlayStation 3 owners learned that the new title would be receiving a multi-platform release, ending all exclusive DoA games strictly to the Xbox platform and would be making a comeback on their favorite Sony console. And, to top it all off, we recently learned that the PS3 is the lead development platform for Dead or Alive 5.
Not only does Dead or Alive 5 marks an exciting return to the PlayStation platform, but the game itself is shaping up to possibly be the best iteration out of the entire series. Lead by director Yohei Shimbori, he and Team Ninja are aiming to take DoA5 in a whole new competitive direction, eliminating and improving gameplay flaws that crippled previous Dead or Alive installments. They were also keen on taking much feedback from actual Dead or Alive players themselves for further improvement. And that’s slightly the cherry on top. A few months back, the company revealed that Akira and Sarah from the Virtua Fighter series would be joining the cast as well, with the possibility of another new face to follow.
Dead or Alive 5 will also be packed with a robust amount of new gameplay features, such as Power Blows: A devastating, charged-up move that you can dish out with your character to send your opponent flying in any direction of your choosing, delivering a massive amount of damage. CliffHangers: A new addition to various multi-tiered stages that leaves your opponent clinging onto the edge of a level, if they’re knocked over. As your opponent struggles to climb back up, a mini-game of some sort will ensue, challenging each opposing and defending player to counter-attack for or against the damage. Critical Bursts: (examples at :22, :29 second mark) A new type of stun effect that, once you’ve achieved over the limit of a critical combo, will leave your opponent vulnerable and defenseless for a few short seconds, opening up room for the potential of maximum combos or to land a guaranteed Power Blow. These are just a fraction of some of the new gameplay mechanics that are being introduced in DoA5.
Furthermore, along with story mode, there will be a vast option of offline modes to choose from, with tons of unlockables. We will see a much deeper online fighting mode; for PS3 owners this will be the first ever online Dead or Alive fighting game on a PlayStation console, sharing the same first-time experience Xbox owners had the opportunity to do back in 2004 with Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate. There will also be an online training mode, a very first to the DoA series. Additionally, while playing offline, you will now be able to accept online challenges, another first to the DoA universe.
With all this intact, Dead or Alive 5 is tearing up a path to a very bright future, well exceeding their predecessors and setting the bar even higher for other fighters. Over the past few months, the game has been getting some of the biggest recognition of any fighters that we’ve ever seen, making appearances at special events and local tournaments around the globe with near-final builds of the game. Tecmo Koei and Team Ninja have been doing an amazing job so far getting Dead or Alive fans pumped for their fifth installment, whether keeping them up to date on their Facebook page, or through their main Team Ninja and Tecmo Koei Europe Twitter channels. Furthermore, the Dead or Alive community over at FreeStepDodge (a true home for DoA fighters) have been growing stronger and stronger by the day, giving the developers a tremendous amount of support behind their new title.
After seeing all the hard work and effort that Team Ninja have mustered into Dead or Alive 5, it makes the seven-year absence from the series well worth the much anticipated wait, regardless of the console of your preference to play on. However, the return of the game to the PlayStation brand defines a cream of the crop Dead or Alive game to the platform. If anything, PS3 owners should be more than ecstatic for the upcoming release of DoA5.
Once again, Dead or Alive 5 makes a critical burst onto stores shelves on September 25th, following the release to other territories a few short days later.
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