Dead or Alive 5: Last Round Review

Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is split between being a full release and a free to play fighting game (dubbed Core Fighters), the PSN store is full of tat for both, and finding which is for your specific version is almost impossible. I’m reviewing the full (and I use that term loosely) retail release, so as I went on the store I saw the sub-menu (“FOR FULL VERSION”). Okay I thought, so this must be for me. Nope, what I saw were characters I already had, so I guess what they meant was “Characters that will bump your game up to the full version”?

It’s so badly mismanaged it almost feels like a parody of what the future of DLC is going to be. Only it’s real, this is a real thing that has happened and it’s a little gross. Quite frankly if you buy any of the costumes on the store then you’re responsible for funding this dark future that we find ourselves hurtling toward. Once the rage subsided, I was finally able to play the game, which you’ll be pleased to know, is really, really good.

Dead or Alive has always got a bad rep for being the “fighting game with the boobies”, which might be accurate, but a little unfair. Okay, with an option in the menus for “Breast Motion” (the options either being “natural” or more hilariously, “DOA”) and the skimpy costumes, it doesn’t exactly help itself. But look past that and there is a solid, deep and rewarding fighter in Dead or Alive 5: Last Round

It’s a game where anyone can pick it up, hammer buttons and get some fun out of it, but putting in the time reaps the rewards. With an incredibly challenging counter system (almost demanding you memorise everyone’s combos) and some of the best designed (and interactive) stages, there’s more than just titillation when it comes to DOA. Going one on one with an opponent, each being down to a sliver of health, and countering that final blow giving yourself the victory is a proper fist pumping moment, especially when that person is sitting right next to you.

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Already hosting an impressive roster of characters from past DOA games, and even some Virtua Fighter alumni, Last Round also adds another new character to the mix, the schoolgirl Honoka. This as well as returning DOA1 boss character Raidou, who is now playable. This definitely feels like a celebration of all past games in the series and the final chapter (or Last Round!) is the fifth iteration.

It, as expected, also boosts the graphical performance slightly. It’s not pushing the PS4 exactly, but there are some nice stage effects and each character model getting covered in dirt and sweat (steady now) is a neat touch.

It’s really a shame that a few bugs have made it through. My first time playing I completed the Arcade Mode only to then be stuck on the Results screen with no way to escape other than resetting the console, this has a happened a few times, also becoming stuck when it was attempting to find a game online. This is on top of the numerous issues that Xbox One owners are finding, such as saves being deleted and the game not even showing up for download.

The online mode was a little shaky to begin with, which at the time of writing is finally starting to settle. Although finding a ranked game is nigh on impossible, lobbies do seem to be working and the “Throwdown” portion (allowing you to accept an incoming challenge when playing single player) is currently the best way of getting a ranked match. Once you do get into a game, providing it’s a solid connection, then it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Particularly if you get a group of friends together in a lobby for a classic “Winner Stays On” scenario.

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Last Round is certainly not shy of content. There’s a lot of single player modes to plough through with single fights, tags, survival mode and a number of different training modes. There’s also a Story Mode, which tries (and ultimately fails) to tell a convincing story out of this madness.

It’s a number of cut scenes interspersed with single round fights which feel like they’re over just as soon as they begin. Hilariously, the PS4 stream functionality is blocked when playing Story Mode, as if Tecmo Koei didn’t want anyone to spoil this award winning tale they’re telling. In a post Injustice/Mortal Kombat world, the excuse of “fighting games don’t do story modes” doesn’t quite fly anymore.

Despite being the most complete DOA package it’s a shame that so many bugs have crept through to the final product. There’s a great fighting game here, that with maybe a little care and attention would’ve been essential. As it stands though, this is simply a nice stop gap before Street Fighter’s imminent arrival.