Dead or Alive 5: Last Round Review (PlayStation 4)
We were supposed to have already reached the apotheosis of Dead or Alive 5 with 2013's Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, but Team Ninja has decided to increase the jiggle and give its ninja-, wrestler- and karate master-filled lineup one final makeover so the team can debut on current-gen systems. Being this is the fourth Dead or Alive 5 title released in a little over two years, it's easy to see that Koei Tecmo is doing things the Capcom way and trying to get the most out of Team Ninja's already polished combat system.
Luckily, there are preexisting fighting mechanics in Last Round that still play great as it embraces its new capabilities. At the same time, there's only so much mileage you can get out of a formula like this. Does Dead or Alive 5: Last Round provide enough content to warrant yet another release? Not really, but at least its smoother curves and bigger bust already had strong legs to begin with.
Given that this is supposed to be Team Ninja's swansong to Dead or Alive 5, Last Round certainly delivers in terms of what we expect: fast-paced fighting and sensualized visuals. I've followed the Dead or Alive series since I first saw Kasumi's ridiculous chest physics flop around on the PS One over 19 years ago; the series has become a rather guilty pleasure since then. Last Round takes everything fans could ever love about the series and cranks it all up to 11, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's doing anything new.
It doesn't matter if you're a fan of the hyper-sexualized ladies, the serious characters, the comic fighters or the barely legal-looking girls in revealing get-ups, this is the best DoA has ever looked. Last Round has more characters, costumes and levels than ever before, and they have properly made the transition to current-gen standards with flying colors. While this all looks and sounds great, there unfortunately isn't much substance behind those pretty outfits.
As expected, there are a lot of costumes in Dead or Alive 5: Last Round. You can get that some of these are funny, some are silly, some are serious and most are meant to just show some skin. You can also add glasses, change hairstyles and alter a few aspects of each costume as well. These character costumes can get dirty during a fight depending on what happens, which is great considering how much each arena's environment matters during battle. Surprisingly, I don't remember any issues of clipping for a majority of these new skins, despite how ridiculous and cumbersome some of them were (especially for Bass, Bayman and Nyotengu), indicating that a lot of love went into these characters and their overabundance of bouncy outfits.
Speaking of bounce, I guess I have to address it -- Last Round actually got its chest physics right. A lot of games go the unnatural and unbelievable route when it comes to purposely adding in chest physics, with Jill in the Resident Evil's HD remaster being the most recent culprit. Without getting too weird and going into details about Last Round's frontal features, let's just say I was legitimately surprised at the additional work Team Ninja put into the game's character models that were not found in previous versions of DoA 5. Obviously, this shouldn't matter, but since the series caters to those wanting to see skin, Last Round delivers. Luckily, just as many details went into its backgrounds and other characters, because this is one of the best-looking fighting games of all time.
In terms of actual new content, Last Round is quite underwhelming and merely includes Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate's features, with a couple of bonuses included, which is a shame. The 34 character roster seems like a lot, but a few of these characters are clones or just alter egos of other fighters. In terms of actual new characters, there is only Raidou and Honoka. Since Raidou was the final boss from the 1996 original, this means that Honoka is the only real new character joining the fight this time. Additionally, Honoka and most of the new characters from DoA 5 Ultimate have moves that are just sloppy mash-ups of other characters' fighting styles. Once you start putting time in and learning the roster, you'll soon realize that a lot of the new characters' move sets (from Ultimate and Last Round) don't mesh as well as the core DoA 5 members'.
Very little was done to change Dead or Alive 5's gameplay. Instead, everything seems to be ironed out. Combat still consists of light speed rock-paper-scissors-like mechanics but with reaction-based gameplay intertwined. The series' triangle system is smoother than it ever was. Strikes can beat throws, throws beat defensive holds, holds can beat strikes and it's up to you to know when to use what. This leads to intense matches of close observation, experimentation and reaction as you try to adapt to the fighting styles of each character. You can still knock opponents into environmental objects, which seem to produce more and more elaborate combat effects. These background interactions just get unbelievable after a while, resulting in aerial car crashes, punches from behemoth statues and other ridiculous explosions. We know Dead or Alive is about the skin, wrestling and karate, but the arena interactions are becoming as ludicrous as most of its costumes.
Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is a blatant attempt at one final cash grab before Team Ninja can stop reusing the same assets and move on to working on the sixth entry. I absolutely love Dead or Alive 5's gameplay, but Last Round did absolutely nothing for me, albeit its pretty jump to current-gen hardware. Sure, it's $40 compared to the usual $60, but there is still not enough content for DoA 5 vets here to warrant its price. While no changes to the game's story mode, this is just the HD remaster of the already Ultimate version of Dead or Alive 5.
This review was based on a purchased, digital copy of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round for PlayStation 4.