After seven years Team Ninja’s Dead or Alive series is coming back into the hands of fighting enthusiasts. Continuing on with the Dead or Alive Tournament, veteran fighters Helena alongside the help of Zack are hosting DoA 6 for fighters both new and old to see who can claim to be the best in the world. As nothing is ever as it seems, welcome back to the ring with various fighting styles are mixing it up into both the natural and supernatural worlds alongside some pretty crazy science.
At its core, DoA6 is a fast paced 1v1 versus with a varied cast of fighting styles both modern and ancient alike. What’s always been fascinating with this is just how well some styles could be paired up versus how much you could dread a fight as the moveset just isn’t compatible with the likes of Drunken Boxing. What I really appreciate about the diversity however is that not all characters are built the same. Some are purposely stronger. Others are purposefully tougher, faster, slower, taller, shorter. Instead of just picking a character because you like the look, or the fighting style, you may pick them for their overall functionality as you load up the Arcade or Survival Modes.
Where you’ll really want to start however is either the Story or DoA Quest modes. Each of these modes are a great place to start whether it’s your first time playing the series or you’re simply back for more fast paced slugfests that you only wish you could perform in real life. In more recent years, I’m glad that fighting games are no longer, beat opponent a, b, c, d, boss of the latter, cue ending video and credits. Having realized that there’s a lot more to be done in the past years with Mortal Kombat and Soul Calibur for examples, Dead or Alive continues its trend from the fifth but it takes a bit of a different direction in order to tell these fighter’s tales.
Instead of going along the route of cutscene, cutscene, fight, cutscene, fight, fight, cutscene, Dead or Alive 6 revamps itself with a cork board of sorts that opens up as you make your way through each fight or pure cutscene. It felt a bit odd at first because it could have just continued on from one fight to another however while some of the storylines go straight from start to finish in terms of the set timeline for the events of the game, others exist purely as the filler into why one of the characters just did what they did. It’s a neat concept. There’s still an easy introduction and there’s still an obnoxious final boss that you can choose one of three fighters to use but the rest falls into place as you uncover it and it made for a good couple hours of fun. I do hope more is added down the line as the board has plenty of places that could be filled in.
While a great place to learn the basics, and to get the continuing of the storyline and the characters that you’ve either come to love or hate, where you’ll really learn the master the system is the DoA Quest. This mode is a set of challenges in which there are three components to every fight. The first is to survive and beat your opponent. That’s the easy part. The second and often more difficult portion is to perform tasks such as “perform three holds” before taking out your opponent. Let’s just say that holds are not my strong suit and often I take out my opponent before even getting two done. The last is often “obtain a score of over xth amount” or “beat your opponent within a certain time”. It’s rated as the hardest but often I found myself more easily completing the third than I was the second.
The other reason why DoA Quest is a good place to start is that each fight in the list is with a different character. You don’t choose. This not only helps to get a better understanding of the fighting mechanics, but it also lets you get a better understanding of the characters that are available to take into the rings. For people like me who are “ok” at best with DoA, Soul Calibur and Mortal Kombat but suck completely at the likes of BlazBlue and its predecessor Guilty Gear, this mode is fantastic.
Side to these modes are the classics. You have your typical ladder mode in which you pick a difficulty and then are placed against ten random opponents who only get stronger as you near the top. There’s a Survival Mode in which the goal is rather obvious in which you need to survive for as long as you can until you finally lose. Also back for everyone’s enjoyment is the pure versus mode of you vs the CPU or a friend / sibling in order to solve some rivalries that may have come about over the years. There’s a fair amount of gameplay options depending upon your mood and whether or not you’re hanging out with others or flying solo for a few matches before running out the door.
The gameplay itself is as stellar as it’s ever been. Out of most of the fighters on the market, the Dead or Alive series has always been amongst the smoothest with the best natural flow of moves before a character resets themselves into their fighting poses. There’s never that awkward pose that occurs where you’re like “COME ON! That should have hit”. Your characters move smoothly on the field and since my first bouts against one of my best friend in DoA3 after we finished High School, the series is just as smooth and just as fun to play now as it was then.
Adding onto all the above is a full set of cosmetics that can be unlocked for every character. Not having to worry about, and god forbid only having, two outfits, you have access to unlock variants as well as brand new outfits in order to grace the battlefield with. In order to unlock these outfits, you’ll need to play through the various modes in order to unlock them as well as get the cash to pay for them once they’ve been unlocked for purchasing. Various outfits and accessories can be saved for a quick load so you can always look your best before kicking the crap out of your opponent.