Dead or Alive 5 Last Round Review – Playing Dress Up (PS4)

A lot of Dead or Alive 5 games have come out over the last few years. There was the simply named Dead or Alive 5, which came out in 2012, then their was Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, which graced consoles only a year later. Oh, and let’s not forget Dead or Alive 5+, which weaseled its way onto the PlayStation Vita back in 2013. Now, two years later, Dead or Alive 5 Last Round has made its way onto current-gen consoles, such as the PS4 and Xbox One, bringing around a few nice changes to the core game.

So, What’s New?

The biggest, and the most obvious upgrade to previous Dead or Alive titles is Last Round’s graphics. Somewhat surprisingly, Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo managed to make the two and a half year old game look gorgeous on the current-gen consoles. The environments are bright, the characters are life-like, and the animations and movements are just so much smoother. While it doesn’t exactly look like a native PS4 or Xbox One game, it looks far better than it did on the PS3 and Xbox 360.

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While the visual upgrades are a huge difference, Last Round also shakes things up a bit by offering the most comprehensive list of playable characters, stages, and costumes to date. A whopping 34 characters are playable, and literally hundreds of costumes can be used to dress those characters up. Santa suits, gym clothes, football gear, and a whole lot of string bikinis can be found in various characters’ wardrobes, allowing the player to play dress up before sending his or her fighter out into the ring.

Apart from the new costumes, characters, stages, and visuals, the fighting mechanics in Last Round are essentially the same that the other versions of Dead or Alive 5 boasted. Gameplay is fairly simplistic, especially compared to games like Guilty Gear or other highly technical titles. While there are certain combos that can be pulled off, they don’t really do extra damage. Besides, despite the numerous tutorials modes that players can take advantage of, many combos are just too lengthy to remember.

It’s Fightin’ Time

Mostly, players will likely be using basic attacks, such as throws, punches, and kicks, stringing them together to form their own combos. Slightly more advanced players will be able to  use proper blocks and counter-attacks, but mostly, both online and in the single-player modes, I noticed a lot of characters simply relying on these simple attacks to win the rounds. This, for me, was both a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand, it allowed me to jump right into Last Round without having to spend hours on the tutorial, but on the other, it made a lot of the characters feel too similar and rather bland. This blandness was only exaggerated by the fact that numerous attack animations are repeated in different characters, and I noticed that each character has only a few truly unique moves, with the rest of the moves being comprised of semi-recycled attacks and motions.

Actually, combat in general would be pretty bland and generic if not for the interact-able and partially destructible stages. Just like in Injustice, punching your enemy into certain areas of the stage can result in some pretty intense things. After playing through all the stages numerous times, I’ve thrown characters into electric fences, flung them into helicopters, had them shot with missiles, pushed them over waterfalls, and even tossed them into the mouth of a giant, creepy, clown animatronic. Finding out where you can throw your enemies to activate intense and crazy short cinematics takes the fun in Last Round to a whole other level. Occasionally, throwing people into certain objects triggers a location switch, which completely changes up the fight.

Speaking of changing up the fight, Last Round offers several different gameplay modes to try to keep things fresh. Besides the classic arcade mode, in which players fight a number of increasingly difficult fighters, there is also a survival mode, a team fighting mode, and more. While each mode retains the general beat-em-up gameplay, it offers a unique twist on it. In survival mode, for example, players have to fight one enemy right after another, continuing on until their character’s health runs out. It is a fun way to shake things up a bit, although if you are really looking for a change of pace then you probably should check out the game’s story mode.

Lemme Tell You a Story

Almost every fighting game has some type of story mode that tries to briefly explain each character and loosely tie them together, and Last Round is no exception. Starting in medias res, the story relies on loose references to past games to bring unfamiliar players up to speed on what’s happening in the world of Dead or Alive. Despite having played some of the previous titles years ago, I found myself frantically Googling various bits of information that was being discussed in the story mode, trying to see how they connect to the overarching narrative.

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In the end, I was still confused, which probably had something to do with the fact that various characters kept popping up for the sole reason of giving players a chance to fight. I lost count of how many random people would show up in the most random places — on top of buildings, in weird alleyways, in a frozen wasteland — only to fight your character for seemingly no reason and then vanish into the unknown. The only redeeming thing about story mode are the little character bios that pop up before allowing the player to use a character. These actually gave real information as to what each character is all about, although it might be easier to simply look them up online rather than try to unlock them all in the game.

If none of the gameplay modes interest you at all, then you might want to try out the online mode. Here, players can compete with each other in either ranked matches or casual matches. In casual matches, players are actually able to host their own little tournaments, and can even dictate what the rules of the tournament will be. It can be fun if you want to play against some friends, and I noticed quite a few people online posting open matches, allowing for new players to jump right in. However, I will note that online play seems to have some technical issues. A few times, the game froze in the loading screen, forcing me to exit the application and start again. While it didn’t crash my PS4, it happened frequently enough to become a huge annoyance when trying to play against people online.

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Despite the occasional freezing, I enjoyed my time with Dead or Alive 5 Last Round. Its updated visuals, huge character list, and numerous costumes set it apart from previous versions of DOA 5, and the fun and interactive environments really kept me interested in the core gameplay. While the story mode was confusing and the characters felt somewhat bland, Last Round is a game that fans of fighting titles should probably check out. If you’re still on the fence about it, remember that a free version — called Dead or Alive 5 Last Round: Core Fighters — can be downloaded on the PSN Store or the Xbox Games Store right now.

Review code was purchased by the reviewer. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.

7.0Bronze Trohpy
  • Beautiful visuals
  • Lots of characters and costumes to choose from
  • Several different game modes to play
  • Fun, interactive environments
  • Characters are somewhat bland
  • Story mode is just awful
  • Occasional freezing