4,187SRP: £29.99As this is the fourth time we've covered Dead or Alive 5 in review format on AVF, I’ll spare you the long version of the text and instead encourage you to read our previous entries here, here, and here.
As a quick primer for new players (or those that didn't dabble in the upgraded versions), this newly-released Last Round of Koei Tecmo’s fighting game is probably the best in the series thus far. It retains the same smooth four-button control scheme, slick fighting action and occasionally spectacular presentation of its forebears, but now comes complete with a nicely buffed 1080p 60fps shine courtesy of the new hardware. The vast array of stages and characters cover a wide range of fighting tactics and neat environmental tricks, and the superb training mode is particularly adept at helping newcomers to find a sure footing.
As such, if we’re talking core gameplay alone, DoA 5 is thoroughly worth a look on PS4 or Xbox One. It’s a supremely fun fighting game at its core, and with network problems now patched and servers running stable, it’s finally capable of bringing as much joy online as it does on a local system.
**Note** As of the time this review is going live, the European PlayStation 4 version of DoA 5 LR is stuck a patch version behind the rest of the world, severely limiting the available pool of online opposition. If this will be your primary mode of play, consider waiting until parity is achieved before purchasing**
Costume QuestBut even though this is a polished and entertaining fighter on a hardware that’s not exactly awash with great examples of the genre, it has to be noted that DoA 5 LR’s free-to-play and disc-based versions aren't quite the products they should be. Both options are absolutely rife with confusing DLC packs (advertised at all times on the main menu screen); some, or all of which may (or may not) apply to the version you’re currently running on your console. The marketplace is a total mess.
As an example, I used the boxed PS4 copy as the basis for review. Looking in the menu, that disc gets me the full suite of game modes and fighters, along with all the DLC costumes that run up to the Ultimate version of DoA 5 that released in 2013. What it doesn't get me is any of the DLC that came out afterwards, nor does it get me the slew of upcoming DLC that’s being released periodically over the next year.
In itself that’s disappointing for a game that originally released back in 2012, but what’s even more grating is looking at the pricing and structure for all the available bolt-ons. Individual costumes might be broken up sensibly into per-fighter categories on the store, but the prices begin at an eye-watering £1.69 per item, with themed packs of content priced anywhere up to £39.99. If I wanted to pick up the entire Ultimate DLC pack it’d be a frankly ridiculous £73.99, while if I wanted to subscribe to the upcoming DLC Season Pass, that’s another £73.99 on top.
Of course all of this stuff is optional, but the prominent advertisement for DLC makes Last Round feel more than a little stingy. The existence of a free-to-play version of DoA 5 ("Core Fighters”) goes some way to explaining the piecemeal purchase options, but even when selecting your content a la carte, the costs quickly spiral to ridiculous proportions.
Comeback QueenSo, be aware that what you get on the disc with DoA 5 Last Round might not be everything you want, and even if there is enough content on the disc to warrant a full retail release, it’s a huge disappointment that Koei Tecmo still wants to gouge players for all they’re worth.
As for the port itself, DoA 5 LR is a barebones up-rezzed version of 5, with a modicum of attention paid to making the most of their fighters' assets.
The result is a curious mishmash of quality. Some of the stages look as spectacular at high resolutions as they did on previous generations of hardware, while others are home to bland and repetitive textures, pixelated props and low-polygon objects. The fighters themselves are superbly detailed throughout however, with Team Ninja’s ridiculous attention to detail rendering skin with a softer tone, material with more clarity and hair with greater shine and realism. The dirt and environmental debris that ends up on those clothes is another story however, looking as if it was painted on at a resolution more at home in Dead or Alive 2.
The two new fighters included in Last Round are also fairly decent additions. Honoka’s swift Kung Fu-style attacks have garnered a strong following in the online arena, while returning boss Raidou is reincarnated as a heavy-hitting cyborg. They both look great, and they both, predictably, have a huge array of DLC costumes already available for purchase.
- Superb gameplay
- Fun story mode
- Interactive stages
- Plenty of content
- Ridiculous DLC
- Patch problems for Europe
- Occasional freezes
- Mishmash of visuals
Dead or Alive 5 Last Round PS4 ReviewAs an HD remaster, Last Round is at once a missed opportunity and another chance for one of the better fighting games of last generation to find a new audience. Proliferation of DLC and and ridiculous pricing aside, what you end up with on the disc is a subsection of a sturdy, balanced and highly nuanced fighter, friendly for newcomers and yet bursting with depth for those that want to play long into the night.
But while DoA 5 wasn’t a bad-looking game to begin with, this new version only occasionally lives up to the graphical standards set over the past couple of years. There are enough ragged edges and low-detail environments to root it firmly in the past, juxtaposed against the ridiculously high quality of DoA’s character models and animation. It’s a weird combination.
As far as returning players are concerned, on paper, Last Round’s new fighters, costumes and smattering of stages might make for just enough reason to purchase. The disc-based version can be picked up for as little as £25 already, and though that doesn't get you much beyond the content right up to Ultimate, at least DoA 5 should find fresh legs and a revitalised community on new hardware.
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