The Dead or Alive series has been around since the 90s. The franchise has become a staple in the fighting genre, known for its hard-hitting action and very sexy ladies. The latest entry in this series continues this tradition. Still, there are a few changes to the Dead or Alive formula in this sixth entry, helping add a hint of freshness to a franchise that has been around for over twenty years.
First off, Dead or Alive 6 looks great. The sweat effects from the previous entry in the franchise is back, and improved upon. The characters also now show physical damage as fights play out. This includes dirt on the characters, torn clothes and accessories such as glasses and hair pins falling off. The franchise's infamous breast physics are still there, though players can adjust them. Though the breast physics are still there, many of the new costumes for female characters are modest, and do not show off as much of their bodies as before.
The gameplay is very much like past entries. It still follows the same triangle system, with blows being countered with holds, holds being countered with throws, and throws being countered with blows. The gameplay is tight, and does reward strategic thinking. The combat is fast-paced and incredibly fun.
While the gameplay is similar to past Dead or Alive entries, the latest iteration offers a new aspect to combat: the Break Gauge. This meter is filled as the fight rages on, with players able to perform special actions depending on how much of the meter is full. At the cost of 50 percent of the gauge, players can perform a Break Guard, which stops an incoming combo and leaves the attacker open. If the gauge is full, players can execute a Break Blow, an ultimate attack of sorts that delivers a good amount of damage.
Though there are a number of systems going on, Dead or Alive 6 is friendly to newcomers. Players can perform what is called a Fatal Rush, a simple combo executed by pressing one button. Many attacks are easy to input, with the player only having to learn which ones combo together. There are a few different modes meant to help players learn move inputs and combos. Though I am a Dead or Alive veteran, it was nice to have these modes in order to shake off the dust from the time I spent away from the series since I finished my time with Dead or Alive 5.
Dead or Alive 6 features over 20 characters, giving players a bit of variety. There are many familiar faces for veterans, including characters such as Tina and Kokoro. There are two new faces, however: Diego and NiCO. Diego is a cocky street fighter who uses a mixture of punches, tackles and headbutts. NiCO is a Pencak Silat practitioner who mixes a little technology into her fighting style, giving her the ability to add electricity to her attacks. Both fighters are welcome additions (I especially love NiCO, and have put in some serious time with her).
Along with the training modes, there are a number of single-player modes. These include a story mode, as well as Arcade, Survival, and Time-Attack. Standing at the forefront of these is a new mode called DOA Quest. In this new mode, players are given challenges that must be completed with certain characters. Players are rewarded with in-game currency and costume pieces, and get the opportunity to use all of the characters and grow familiar with how they work.
While many of the single-player modes are fun to play, the game's story mode is definitely the weakest link. This mode is horrible, with the game's plot being bland and told in a disjointed fashion. The voice acting is atrocious, with very badly done accents. I would definitely recommend using the Japanese dub. I played through the mode to completion hoping for some reward. Unfortunately, there is no incentive to play through the story, unless you really, really need to know what happened at the sixth Dead or Alive Tournament.
While there are a good number of single-player modes to keep you busy when you feel like staying offline, Dead or Alive 6 does not offer much with its multiplayer, especially online. Offline there is the Versus mode, but that is the only multiplayer mode whenever you are not online. Currently, the only online offering is the Ranked mode, with no options for online lobbies. Ranked did perform well for me, though I would experience some stuttering in the gameplay here and there, causing input lag in the middle of the fight.
One positive thing about Ranked is character customization. Every character in the game receives a number of outfits, as well as hairstyles and accessories. It is nice going into a fight with a character that is customized to your liking and is different from what all of the other players out there are using.
When it comes down to it, Dead or Alive 6 is a great offering for any fighting game fan. The gameplay is polished, the new systems add enough freshness to the combat and there is a great variety in characters. There are a good number of modes, and more on the way (including a lobby mode for online play). Until then, players will have a limited number of multiplayer modes to play, as well as a bad story mode. I have been a fan of this series since I played Dead or Alive 2 on the PlayStation 2 a long time ago, and with the sixth entry in the series, I can say that Dead or Alive is still one of my favorite fighting franchises.
Mike reviewed Dead or Alive 6 on PS4 using a personally purchased copy.