The original Dead or Alive 5 is now nearly two and a half years old. In that time, both a portable version and a new console version have been released, each with a few new upgrades. Attempting a second console re-release from the same game in the series for the first time, Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo have released Dead or Alive 5: Last Round, but this time the series jumps to current-gen consoles for the first time with the most fluid and smooth gameplay in the series yet.
As merely an upgrade to Dead or Alive 5 and Ultimate, rather than a full remake like the recent Majora’s Mask 3D, Last Round is not going to offer any earth-shattering content for those who have played the previous releases. However, this is also the first time that the DOA series have made the leap to the current consoles, and Team Ninja executed this transition exceptionally well. The visuals in the original were certainly good, but they look absolutely gorgeous in this new version. It obviously won’t match up with native current-gen games, but it is no slouch in the visual department.
The improvement in graphics is largely helped by the newly introduced Soft Engine, which is basically what you would imagine from the name. Team Ninja previously described this as allowing the character’s skin to look more “soft”, and in turn realistic. As a result, the characters in Dead or Alive 5: Last Round certainly look the best that they ever have, with particular attention being paid to the women, as a result of wearing less clothing, which is a staple of this series. There are even new breast jiggle physics known as LR that look more realistic than they ever before, though the more fantastical versions are still present as well.
In addition to the actual graphics, the latest entry in the series runs as smooth as ever at 1080p and 60fps. The characters bounce around the screen with little slowdown, if any at all. With a fast-paced series like Dead or Alive, you can definitely see the difference between this much more powerful version and the one we had last-gen. One of the most impressive moments is watching just how near seamlessly the beautiful in-game cutscenes transition right into the random bouts throughout story mode.
The story mode itself is disappointingly the exact same as it was in all previous releases for DOA5, though it still is a lot of fun to play through, albeit quite short. Transitioning through a somewhat confusing timeline, across a number of the characters on the roster, the patented Dead or Alive humor is still intact. Even the English voice acting is pretty solid, whereas it was abysmal in some previous entries.
Story mode is also a good place to start in any Dead or Alive game, if only to test the waters on which character you may want to use most in the future. From there, this game is excellent for beginners by offering a very detailed and helpful training area. Some fighting games only offer a basic training section, but Dead or Alive 5: Last Round has Command Training and Combo Challenge on top of the existing Tutorial. This allows you to further learn which fighter is the perfect fit for you in battle.
Having this level of training is especially useful, as Dead or Alive has quite a complex fighting system, especially for newcomers. There is the basic button mashing that can sometimes turn out well, but to fully master Dead or Alive 5: Last Round, learning the more detailed combos and counter moves is vital. This style of fighting can be an absolute joy to play with friends. As it was back in the old days of the series, it is hard to win Tag Battles with a group of friends switching off, especially locally.
While Dead or Alive 5: Last Round works close to perfect in single player and local versus, the online play is basically unplayable right now. When trying to access any online feature, including Ranked Matches or Lobbies, the game, most of the time, completely crashes and goes back to the Xbox One Dashboard. The problem seems to be tied to the Throwdown option, which can be turned off to make any offline feature work just fine.
there is no doubt that this is the definitive Dead or Alive experience
Unlike games such as Driveclub and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is not completely broken as a result of this problem. However, it is quite annoying to not be able to play against friends or other random gamers online with your favorite fighters. Team Ninja has already apologized and said they are working on a fix, so hopefully this will not linger too long, but luckily it is not a massive hindrance currently.
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate boasted a very strong roster of fighters, as well as stages and costumes, but Dead or Alive 5: Last Round takes it another step forward. Two new characters have been added to the lineup, one completely new to the series with Honoka, who provides a rather fun moveset, and the now cyborgified Raidou, who was the villain from the original DOA. With these two added, Last Round easily has the deepest and most varied roster in the series. The current-gen version also receives two new stages, Danger Zone and Crimson, which were from the first two games in the series respectively. These are an excellent blast from the past that longtime fans of the series can greatly appreciate.
Dead or Alive 5: Last Round also has the largest costume offering ever in the series, with Ayane leading the pack with 38 total, including unlockables and DLC costumes. A good majority of the DLC from the first Dead or Alive 5 is included, but only some of the DLC from Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is present, including the Santa pack. . This is rather annoying, as they continue to price the DLC costumes way too high, including an absolutely ridiculous Season Pass that costs more than double what the game itself does.
Fitting right in with the costumes, one brand new feature manages to make the whole selection process all the easier. Rather than mapping hairstyles and other accessories like glasses to buttons at the selection menu, you can actually choose them in a sub-menu that shows up after picking the costume. This is a massive improvement that the series has long needed, though it is exclusive to the current-gen versions.
Dead or Alive 5 could have easily begun to feel stale after a few different releases, but Team Ninja has done a great job at keeping the series alive with Last Round, while also stating this would be the last one. The game boasts the largest lineup of characters, costumes, and stages ever in the series and with the gorgeous graphics on current-gen consoles, there is no doubt that this is the definitive Dead or Alive experience. The crashing issues are worrisome, but Team Ninja is already working on a fix and they mostly only affect online play, so you may not even run across this issue if you stick to single player. While waiting for the inevitable sixth entry in the series, Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is a very solid way to end the fifth generation of the franchise.