Dead or Alive 6 feels like it has been developed in a group or team situation where the vast majority of the group want to do a competent but easy job, with a small part of the group wants to do something that goes above and beyond.

The short story is that the game is quite entertaining and incredibly well made but looking under the hood, what you get is just a little too safe and by-the-numbers, like a singer or band performing only their greatest hits and not coming up with any new material. I mean the box art is a prime example of that with a simple photo of the lead protagonist of Kasumi on a grey background. That’s right, just banking on the character recognition and that’s about it, just easy and quick.

Now, onto the game itself. The key thing for any fighting game is, of course, the combat. Like previous entries into the franchise, the combos flow comfortably, though the charge attacks are little dull and don’t quite pack the punch that you want in terms of reducing health. The combat in Dead or Alive 6 is quite easy to pick up and whilst the tutorial talks about the use of reactive mechanics, I found that there was never really a use, or need for them.

Although I found the mechanics easy to pick up, the fact that the square is a guard button put me off a little after years of using it as an attack button. Most characters are easy to pick up, except Brad Wong who uses a flashy form of Kung Fu making his moves a little too hard to predict when using and Bass, who feels a little too slow.

Dead or Alive 6 Screenshot
Hoods are in and headbands are out

The areas are wide in design, from a Dinosaur theme park to a back street brawling alleyway. Destructive aspects like the exploding barrels or the spectators who shove someone back into the fight after a hard hit are also really impressive. Plus it’s always entertaining when you kick someone out of the ring and they take a hard fall, like in the lab where you kick your opponent off of a ledge and down two or three levels.

In terms of single player, Dead or Alive 6 stays in line with previous entries with no real innovation or change. Your standard challenge modes are available for when you fancy an old fashioned brawl, from survival to time attack. No complaints really since it’s worked in previous games. In terms of DOA quest mode, if you’re the kind of player who likes to decorate or customize your favorite characters, DOA Quest gives you the chance to do so as you have 96 matches to complete, where if you complete certain criteria, you get fancy prizes like new outfits and accessories, so if your budding tailor or stylist this mode is for you.

The story is where you get the real sense that people were going for the easy grade in Dead or Alive 6. The main campaign in this game took less than an hour to do. The main story follows Kasumi and her ninja pals dealing with a baddy whilst the Dead or Alive Tournament rages on in the background, I’m not too sure why it’s called Dead or Alive since none of the zombies are participants. Whilst the story is brilliant fighting silly storytelling, it’s short with no chance to savor a sweet taste. Though something does happen with purple ninja hair Ayane, something to watch out for.

I know fighting games aren’t known for lengthy campaigns but less than an hour? Come on, you can’t charge full price for something that short. Even the side stories that randomly unlock as you complete different chapters don’t make up for it, as the stories told are sporadic and miss a lot of connecting tissue like the adventures of Brad Wong and Elliot searching for an ancient wine, as you don’t see how the set out on the quest or get a satisfying ending.

Dead or Alive 6 Screenshot
A typical setup for a fight, touching the merchandise

The multiplayer currently has one mode and that’s ranked. During my time online I found in most of my matches, the combat was fast and fluid and I didn’t feel like I was fighting underwater. One tip I have is if your opponent is guarding just hit X to use a throw to break their guard. Though an update could reduce the number of times one strike is used since spamming is too much of a temptation in Dead or Alive 6, which could lead to a cheap win. Wins help you move of the A to F rankings quicker, but a legitimate effort in a loss does give you a fair amount of experience points, too. The multiplayer could do with another mode or two just to keep it more interesting as repeated Ranked Matches got a little dull after a while.

Though I doubt that will happen since Dead or Alive 6, when you get down to it, is just a bit too far into its comfort zone. Safely doing what it does best without trying to do something new or improve on what it already has. I mean the graphics are great in the way that it’s state of the art now, but in a few years, it’ll look ropey and outdated. Dead or Alive 6 feels like it’s doing the same painting-by-numbers routine of it’s fighting game franchise peers, sticking safely to a formula whilst going out of the box to satisfy mass demand with some multiplayer.

The review previously stated that the game had no CPU versus mode, however this was incorrect, the review has been edited to reflect that, however the score has not been altered.

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