Dead or Alive is a fighting series that I’ve heard a lot about, but I’ve never gotten to play any of the games. Unfortunately, most of them have lost their original fighting purpose or have become a little too graphic. Luckily, this one fit the bill and the game is definitely a fun one that I would recommend.
Each of the characters get their own mini story mode so I’ll briefly discuss each of them except for Bayman since he never got to appear in Story Mode. All I can say is that he doesn’t seem very impressive from his moveset. Ein is one of the big characters of the game as everyone keeps calling him Hayate. Is that really his name!? Ein is having trouble with his memories so he can’t really be sure. He seems like a pretty good character and one could be tricked into thinking that he was the main character!
Leon is a military person and he’s not one of the better characters. He’s all right I suppose, but a little bland at this point. We don’t really get to learn that much about him and his story wasn’t very interesting. Helena has one of the deeper stories as her mother is defeated by an unknown assassin. Helena goes on a quest to find this person and it’s definitely a lot more epic than most of the other stories. Helena is one of the better characters alongside Hayate.
Leifang reminds me of Xiaoyu from Tekken. They’re both pretty similar and Leifang is a decent character. As with Leon, she doesn’t really get that much development, but at least she’s a tough fighter. Her fighting style is quick and that’s always a good thing. Bass Armstrong is another character and despite the epic name, he’s the worst character! He’s really proud of how epic his daughter has become, but he can get a little too intense and he brings shame to the name. He’s a really slow fighter and the game could have definitely kicked him out!
Ryu Hayabusa is epic as always. He seems to be one of the only professionals in the game and he definitely proves his skills. His fighting style is nice and complex and he’s definitely a cut above the rest. As with Ayane, he’s a skilled ninja. Ayane is possibly more sinister than I had thought as they hint that she is basically a villain in this game. She seems like a good villain, but it’ll be interesting to see whether she is guilty or not.
Kasumi is known as the main character for the series and she’s decently cool. I mostly know her from the Dead Fantasy series, but that’s really enough to tell that she is an excellent fighter. She naturally gets one of the biggest plot twists of the game! We’ve also got an American in the game who calls himself Zack. Zack isn’t that great, but he does have an epic line. “Check yourself before you wreck yourself!” is his catchphrase as he tosses a mirror at his opponent. That was probably the best line in the game and it earns him some epicness points.
Jann Lee probably has the least development from all of the characters. I really have no idea what he’s doing here, but if he’s having fun…then that’s the important thing. He basically represents the average joe and he’s a decent fighter. He’s pretty cool, but I don’t have much to base that off from for now. We’ve also got Tina Armstrong. She has a heavy accent, but there’s not really much else to say about her. She seems like a decent character as well and she gets to enter a fashion show, but her storyline didn’t have much of a plot. Gen Fu is the final big character, but he’s basically the generic old person that’s actually really powerful. We’ve seen guys like him appear in fighting games so many times that it’s scary. His ending is actually one of the darkest and most intense ones.
The ultimate villain in the game is known as Tengu. Everything is apparently his delusion and he makes sure to say this every time you fight him. He seems to have some mind manipulation powers through his dancing. I can’t say that he’s a very good character and he’s pretty full of himself despite his unimpressive abilities. As far as final bosses go, Dead or Alive can definitely do better!
The actual gameplay for Dead or Alive feels pretty unique. It’s very fast paced and the movement makes you feel like you’re back at the arcade. You’ll definitely be trying some button mashing at first, but learning the combos can make all the difference. The critical element in this game’s style is the countering system. It’s pretty critical and it makes you double think all of your attacks. Each of them can easily turn against you. Your health bar can go down very quickly so this is the type of game that makes you want to have a lot of rematches. One thing that I can definitely say for it is that the game definitely has replay value.
The graphics are pretty good and this is definitely one of the better looking PS2 games. You really get to appreciate the animation when you blow up an object. The stages are pretty interactable so you can throw someone off a building and then follow them to the next stage. The stages themselves were really fun and that helped the overall experience. The soundtrack is pretty generic. I can’t really say that there are any exceptional tunes to be heard in this game. Still, the songs aren’t bad…I just don’t remember any of them.
A negative would be the fact that story mode and vs mode are pretty much the only things to do. The game could have earned an 8 if it had just added a few more characters or a longer story mode. Still, this is a fighting game so I wouldn’t expect much more. There are under 15 characters so you really need to hope that you like one of the available ones. That shouldn’t be a problem as they all have pretty different move sets. I became comfortable with most of them, but I’m not a fan of any of the slow characters. It’s unfortunate that this game series became distracted by spinoffs and stopped making good games. Hopefully we could get a nice DOA fighting game for the PS4 at some point.
Overall, this was a pretty fun fighting game despite the empty cover. There may not be a lot of extras and the characters are limited, but it succeeds as a fighting game thanks to the incredible gameplay. That’s the important part and the fact that it has a story mode for everyone is pretty good. It’s deeper than the average Arcade Mode and the stage selection is pretty fun. Dead or Alive can easily hold its own against the big fighting series like Tekken or Street Fighter and it would likely be a household name if all of its games were this good. I definitely recommend this game to all fighting game fans and it won’t disappoint you.