Dead or Alive 5 isn't just for anime perverts. . . but it is for anime perverts (with lots of money for DLC)
fighting game anime girls
The burning question undoubtedly etched upon your brain when considering any review of Dead or Alive 5 is this: is this just a game for perverts who like to see saucer-eyed girls in schoolgirl outfits or bikinis beating on each other or members of the opposite sex but who are insufficiently challenged by Sakura Beach Bounce? Well, no, it's not just for those kinds of perverts, although they will probably enjoy it. What surprised me, a complete novice to this series, upon activating the "full game," is that there's a fairly robust fighting game underneath the somewhat lurid trappings. The game features a sizeable roster of fighters (30 in the full game as well as two DLC fighters) with a variety of different fighting styles as well as a number of single-player modes, including the story mode (more on this later), Time Attack, Survival, and Tag/Solo Versus matches. Additionally, the game has several training modes and tutorials designed to show you the ins and outs of its system. Sadly, the online modes appear to be broken on the PC as matchmaking consistently failed every single time I tried to play against a human. As a casual fighting-game aficionado, that means this game lacks much in the way of longevity for me. If you're the sort of person who is both patient enough and dexterous enough to master sophisticated combos, you're likely to get a lot more traction out of the game's tutorial and single-player action.
That's not to say it isn't enjoyable. The story mode, which jumps around in time so much that there's (an all-but-useless) timeline included that's designed to show you when things occur relative to other things, is confusing at best but still pretty fun. There's an evil corporation (or what was once an evil corporation) run by a lady who decides to start a new Dead or Alive tournament, which is apparently a thing that happens on a regular basis in this world. That lady may or may not have something to do with a shadowy archvillain type known as Donovan, whom you hear a few things about but never actually see. She is trying to track down the result of a cloning experiment intended to develop an army of ultimate warriors. Two of the characters are brother and sister. The tournament itself is only a small part of the story. And, yeah, that's about as much as I could take away from it. Despite being rather incoherent, the campaign is charming enough and occasionally genuinely funny. A lot of deft motion-capture work went into choreographing some of the cutscenes, and it especially shows in the ones involving Brad Wong and Elliot; they remind me of a 90s-era Jackie Chan film. It doesn't last long, though; expect to work though the entire story within 3-5 hours, depending on your skill level.
Voiceover work is well-done, although I didn't realize until after I finished the campaign (mostly because I hadn't bothered to look) that there was an option for Japanese voiceovers. Some purists may want to make a point of turning those on, but the game defaults to English language VO and subtitles.
While I enjoyed the game overall, it's not a great value. If you're average or below-average like me, you may get something approximating 10 hours out of the game all-told. Given that the "full game" hasn't been any cheaper than about $20, and Mortal Kombat X, which has considerably greater staying power, has been available from legitimate outlets for less than $9, you're probably better off getting your fighting fix elsewhere for now. The game also gets a dishonorable mention for its Koei Tecmo's ridiculous DLC practices, that includes selling costume and theme packs for nearly twice what the actual base game costs on sale! This is everything that people think is abhorrent about DLC in games, like a $30 set of horse armor.
Finally, the "free" version of the game is not really worthwhile, either. While you can play several single-player modes (and ostensibly online as well--good luck), you only have 1-2 characters to choose from, so it gets boring really quickly.
Recommended--but not at anything near full price.