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Dead Or Alive 6 Review - Is The Series Dying Or Still Very Much Alive?

Dead or Alive has been around for some time now, and with the likes of Street Fighter, Tekken and even Dragon Ball FighterZ now taking the spotlight, is there still a place for DOA6 in this highly crowded genre?

My first experience with Dead or Alive was when my dad came home from work with a copy of Xtreme Beach Volleyball on the original Xbox, for both myself and my brother to play. Having grown up on games such as Tekken, Street Fighter and even Ready 2 Rumble, I hadn't played a single DOA game before that and felt this was an odd departure from the fighting series, so when my friend Tom brought his own copy of Dead or Alive 4 into college sometime between 2005-2006, I was happy to finally have my hands on a fresh feeling fighting game.

We'd set the console up in a spare room one lunchtime, where a small group of us gathered around to play in a very small tournament. It was great fun and being a fan of the unusual and absurd, I found that Zack really spoke to me in his silver morph suit, wobbly forehead tentacle and all.

Zack, making his mark in the world of fighting.
A lot of time has passed since then and being a PlayStation gamer first and foremost, I never did get around to buying my own copy, or an Xbox 360 for that matter. So, two numbered titles later, I finally got my hands on the latest in the series - Dead or Alive 6.

The first thing I found is that coming from a Tekken/Street Fighter background, a number of attack inputs carry over into Dead or Alive 6, which is great for Dead or Alive newcomers, provided they have some level of competency with the rival titles out there. Having said that, I usually adapt to games very quickly, yet when I played with my friend who isn't remotely good at fighting games, we were pretty even. I hadn't looked at the command list at the time, having wanted to fight on even ground to keep things fair, but he was doing well, proving that Dead or Alive 6 caters to newcomers as much as it does to series veterans.

Did I mention environmental hazards?
The combos are relatively simple to pull off, but when you throw critical stuns, defense breaks and counters into the mix, things become a lot more difficult to gauge. Dead or Alive 6 is a very easy game to pick up and play, but an incredibly tough game to master. You can spend hours and hours with DOA6's extensive training program, but practicing to better your own skills doesn't end here because DOA6 has a large number of different modes to get you into the swing of things (pun intended).

To begin, you have Story mode, which as you might have guessed, continues on from the events of Dead or Alive 5. Following the main route, you'll eventually unlock story segments and perspectives from the other characters involved, each with their own timeline and unique set of events. Like most fighting games, the story isn't great, but it gives you something to watch and makes the single player experience that much better. The end boss though? He's ridiculous and so incredibly cheap. You could have the fight in the bag, when suddenly he uses a move that literally makes your screen go black, then attacks you for a lot of damage and frustratingly, he can do this more frequently than you'd like.

It's not looking good for Ryu Hayabusa.
Up next is Quest. This is a mode that has you smacking your opponents about with moves you're assigned as part of your quest. Successfully land all three moves to win costumes and the highest amount of wealth possible. Wealth can then be used to purchase unlocked costumes and in-game accessories, but don't expect Tekken level customisation because DOA6 is quite lacking in that respect.

You also have your standard Versus, Arcade, Time Attack and Survival mode under the Fight category, which is where you'll go for all offline battles once you've cleared the main story. If you're competitive, you'll be spending most of your time online playing ranked matches, and if it proves a little too much to handle, you can simply brush up on your skills in one of four training modes - Free Training, Tutorial, Command Training and Combo Challenge. Each of these modes come with their own challenges and only the most hardcore players out there are likely to finish them, especially when the difficulty noticeably steps up around the 25-30% mark.

I said hazards, not Hentai!
Additionally, you have DOA Central. In here you'll find the Wardrobe option, which allows for you to change or edit your clothing and titles. You also have the Database option to view your player records, the Theatre mode to view your recorded replays or simply watch cpu vs cpu battles, the Music option to listen to and/or adjust background music and finally the Library option, which serves as the DOA Encyclopedia and even features a trivia section.

In total there are 26 vastly different characters to play and perfect, with Nyotengu seemingly being the only DLC character (for those of you who missed the pre-order bonus). I found this to be a little disappointing as it's just one character, but with 25 other characters to choose between, it's not the end of the world.

If you've downloaded the free to play Core Edition of DOA6, you can buy most characters individually or as part of a pack, with two of these packs having been divided by gender, though with only four playable characters (Kasumi, Hitomi, Diego and Bass), I'd personally recommend the full game, which has more than enough content to justify a purchase.

Overall, Dead or Alive 6 manages to deliver another fun and fresh entry as it successfully builds upon the mechanics of previous titles. It's impressively responsive, has an incredibly in depth tutorial system for even the most casual of players to understand, and with arena changes, environmental hazards and damage animations unique to your surroundings, every fight feels fast, at times frantic and always an absolute joy to play. The graphics are the best yet and with decent backing tracks to almost every stage, DOA6 is a game you'll be playing for a long time to come. It's not quite Tekken level, but it's certainly not far behind.

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