Dead Or Alive 6 Review
Dead Or Alive has always been a controversial game because of its sexually suggestive content. Truth be told however, I’m a fan of it. I think a healthy amount of titillation doesn’t do any real harm, provided you’re a normal and well-adjusted human being. Like how alcohol is fine; unless you’re an alcoholic. Regardless of how you feel about ‘that’ part of the game, Dead Or Alive as a series still has a lot to offer both the casual, and professional fighting fan. It’s just a shame that its sexual content kind of overshadows it sometimes in the media…
So lets go over what a typical DOA game typically offers, for those who want to dive in here as their first experience. Well first off, you’ve got your Story Mode and Arcade Mode, which you expect in any high-budget fighting game. On top you’ve got unexceptional modes such as survival which does what it says on the tin, but this time around they’ve added a new mode called DOA Quest.
DOA Quest is a pre-designed fights list spanning a little beyond a 100 fights, which each ask you to complete 3 different objectives. The first being to simply finish it, and the other two being special conditions that widely vary. These could be simple as “Do [x] amount of damage in a combo”, to more elaborate and difficult to pull off “Perform 3 combo throws” or “Counter-hold 3 attacks”. They usually revolve around doing something 2 or 3 times however. You don’t have to complete them all in one session, so you can finish the fight, and restart it to concentrate on an objective you haven’t yet completed.
What modern titles have always offered as well, are the counter-holds. A simple system to reverse long combo-lines, and avoid getting cornered or juggled too much. Pressing 1 of 4 different directions alongside the hold button, will enable you to grab high-attacks, mid-punches, mid-kicks, or low attacks, and throw your opponent on the floor to put some distance between you.
These are quite hard to pull off unless you know the character you’re facing, and what kind of combos they usually go for. The A.I can be easily read once a match starts, and will usually rely on the fighters’ strongest attacks and combos. Players are harder to read, and the input window is very small. If you’re playing against an amateur however (like me), then it’s easy to read what combos they repeat frequently, and punish them for not knowing enough varied combos to attack with. This is good if you’re even semi-competent at playing the game, and want to avoid allowing someone to dominate you with button mashing consistently with a specific combo.
So that’s the old stuff, but a new addition is the burst attacks. These are super fast attacks which will stun your opponent very briefly, allowing you to start another combo chain, or potentially perform a grab. They are very weak however, and are last desperate attempts to try and get yourself back in the fight if you want to interrupt your opponents momentum abruptly. A new bar fills up too, and once it maxes out, you can use a smashing-style move, that ends with a cool slow-motion camera zoom-in of your opponent being decimated by your final power strike.
There’s something about the game however that irked me the wrong way in the few days it’s been out. I’ve put my finger on it rather quickly however, as it used to be a key selling-point of the series for me at least. The wackiness. Weird cutscenes, quirky humour, and a generally zany tone. It’s all kind of missing. The humour isn’t, but it falls flat compared to what we had in entries like DOA4 (still my favourite to this day). DOA6 feels way more grounded and down-to-earth than it ever has, and that might be Team Ninja’s attempt at focusing this entry on the professional e-sports scene heavily this time (thanks to the popularity of platforms like Twitch helping out). There’s enough going on to satisfy professional players I reckon. Combos are still consistent with previous entries, with a few additions to keep things interesting. Kasumi for instance has a follow up to one of her kick combos that has her do a nice teleport down from the air, whereas before she used to stand awkwardly with no follow-up. A lot of cool and stylish fighting can still be pulled off however by simply button-mashing if you’re a casual like I am.
It’s not just the lack of crazy humour that I’m missing either, it’s the fun stages. In previous games, you were kicking each other off cliffs into the wide abyss, leaping over rope-bridges, fighting on an African Safari, it was great! The stages now are mostly single-levelled, without much going on as before. The highlight for me is the pirate ship, where exploding some barrels wakes up a Krakan style monster, that grabs the hit opponent and throws them inside the ship. It needs more of that I think, and more interesting stages. The stage count in general feels quite low too, it doesn’t feel like much has been added that’s worthy of taking notice, and they feel recycled from the previous game in terms of tone and theme. Apparently there’s 12 stages looking at the official website, but there’s only 3 stages I felt were interesting.
Costumes for each character have of course, been changed slightly and with many more new additions added. You also have the ability to customise them this time around, by changing hairstyles and basic accessories to make your character look generally more appealing to you. You unlock more costumes constantly by playing, with the DOA Quest mode specifically unlocking you costume parts for completing all 3 quests in a given fight. It’s all fun enough, and completing them will also unlock biographies and various lore-based information excerpts that will inform you more of what’s going on, and what has gone on in the past. The story is mostly forgettable though, with only 1 or 2 significant plot points worth knowing about as a fan. Otherwise, the story and biographies are only for the hardest of the hardcore fans, that simply must know all character back-stories and relationship links with other characters.
So that’s it really, as fighting games are usually quite short in content, the gameplay is had from repeatable content and not from the dynamic nature of the game in question. The online mode seems really stable from what I’ve played, but needs a lobby system and a few other basic features that were in previous games such as DOA4, which I still regard as the best of the series. Visually speaking, the game still looks identical to DOA4 if you squint your eyes enough. Whilst there’s some sweat and dirt tech running on the clothes of the characters, it’s all smoke and mirrors and really it’s just a bunch of preset textures turning on or off with a few material tricks for good measure. It may have impressed in DOA5, but we’re moving on now into next-gen and we need a new visual gimmick to get us excited again. Even the water in DOA4 was better than it is now. I will say as a positive note however, that the soundtrack is amazing as ever. Ontology is probably my favourite track of the bunch so far. You can also unlock more, as well as older songs from the franchise which is great!
This game is easily not the best in the series, for a few reasons. The first is, you could just buy DOA5 (which is mostly identical and with more content currently), for much less, if not free. Secondly, as an overall package, I still point to other games in the series that hold more charm and a more appealing overall presentation, despite being outdated in terms of features/mechanics (DOA4 is still my #1 go-to title for me). Lastly, the game really hasn’t changed all that much since DOA Ultimate or DOA4. In minor instances, yes of course it has, but overall it’s been feeling stale to me for a while, and I really miss the old tone of the game.
However, this still stands as the most accessible entry. As far as I know, the previous entries never received remasters or ports (bar DOA5 obviously), so this remains the quickest and most up-to-date way to jump in. For new players, start here. The new content and updates might add new stages or characters which will make this the version everyone will be playing over the next year slowly. For hardcore fighter fans or just fans of the series in general, you’ll probably buy it like I did regardless of only minor updates, in the same manner sports gamers buy the same games every year simply for the updated rosters etc. There are tons of characters by the way, so there’s definitely someone that you’ll get to grips with and enjoy fighting as.
If you’re a casual fan of DOA and aren’t sure if you want to spend full price on this, I’d recommend you hold off for the time being. This will undoubtedly go the same way as the last game, where it’ll discount heavily in around 3-6 months, and then they’ll release some trial version, which you can upgrade with the characters and features you specifically want. I don’t regret spending full price on it, and I’m having a blast. I just wish there was… more of it…
Images Taken From: https://teamninja-studio.com/doa6/uk/media.html