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“Oh my god!” screams Tina as she falls to her feet, pushing her heaving breasts together and panting. As she sweats on the floor, waiting for you to press continue, you have the option to swing the camera around, zoom in and admire the gorgeous character model.
This is Dead or Alive 5 in a nutshell. It’s taken what used to be a cheeky bonus you could ignore and now forces you to deep throat every sexual innuendo, suggestion and enthusiastic moan. It’s a softcore porno that replaces the sex with fighting but the foreplay is all there – whether it’s welcome or not.
The glue which binds the game together is a campaign which sees 71 outrageously sexual cutscenes stitched together with fights. You’ll watch new girl on the block Mila pick up a ‘hidden’ camcorder after she showers in the gym, and Zack perv on each and every girl whenever possible. Even the scenes with Tina and her father Bass feel incredibly incestuous.
Naturally, the game also has the most terrible voice acting you’ll experience this year. Tina’s southern drawl, Christie’s ‘English’ and Helena’s faux-French all grind at the ears while they drone away the awful script. Thankfully, brave gamers planning on watching each cutscene in full are at least rewarded with an achievement.
Redemption is found in the way each Story Mode bout gives you the chance to experience a huge variety of characters from the game’s roster and acclimatise to the game’s basic mechanics. Mini challenges are presented prior to each match and, similar to Street Fighter IV, players are encouraged to take part and unlock hundreds of new titles, including one that asks you to play 3000 online matches as each character. Yowch.
It’s the kind of game you wouldn’t want your mum to walk in on, then, but ultimately it’s the fighting that counts. While it might not suit the Street Fighter hardcore, DoA’s parry-focused combat has its fair share of exhilarating moments, as combos flow into one another with enough precision and elegance to make any new player feel immediately accomplished.
Most of the roster feels familiar and unchanged, though overpowered bruisers like Ryu Hayabusa – who caused concern during Dead or Alive 4’s heyday – have been balanced. The Ninja Gaiden star’s previously high damage output does appear to have been reduced to keep in-line with his lightning fast pace, which should come as good news to anyone unfortunate enough to have be matched up against the ninja in previous games.
A few new moves have also been added, freshening up characters with additional combo possibilities. New to the series are flashy Power Blows, which activate once a character has charged up a special move after taking a certain amount of damage.
Also updated are the game’s ubiquitous interactive stages. While some feel like a rehash of Dead or Alive 4, there are key changes to most of the stages to emphasise the interactive elements. One trigger launches a water raft down rapids, while another causes construction work to swing widely across the stage.
These multi-level arenas frame the usual fighting modes: Survival, Arcade, Tag Arcade and Time Attack, though the latter sadly doesn’t feature the fruity top-ups anymore.
Much of Dead or Alive 5’s brawling and balking will take place online, with the game re-using the same grade-based leveling mechanic from the last iteration. Though whether the netcode is up to the task will be determined post-launch, as Tecmo Koei did not make the game’s online servers available for review.
Despite originally pitching itself as a more serious fighter, Dead or Alive 5 stays very true to its roots by offering a gentler introduction to the genre. Tits, thongs and throws, it still offers everything you’d expect from Team Ninja’s famous fighter, though maturing fans might find themselves put off by all the titillation.
Version Tested: PlayStation 3