During a recent media event in San Francisco, Team Ninja confirmed the not-so-surprising appearances of Ayane and Hitomi in the developer's forthcoming brawler Dead or Alive 5. We've known about Ninja Gaiden's Ryu Hayabusa and DOA's Hayate being in the roster as well, but this was our first chance to see the newest additions in action.
The more I played Dead or Alive 5 during our session, the more that I became convinced that the last time I've seen these many drastic changes to the series was when Dead or Alive 2 came out. It's with these two gals that you can really see how Team Ninja is consciously shifting away from the doll-like facial features of past DOA character designs. Hitomi for example is showing a more slender face, shedding of some of her baby fat. The changes are very slight, just enough to be noticeable, but still unmistakably Dead or Alive.
The basic controls will be familiar to any fan, not to mention there remains a solid set of counter moves. What will be a divisive topic of discussion are the changes Team Ninja made to make the game appear--in their eyes--as 'fighting entertainment.' Upon hearing that, I couldn't help but fear that the studio had managed to integrate Quick Time Events into DOA. I wasn't that far off the mark.
Halfway through a fight against Ayane on a construction site, I (as Ryu Hayabusa) managed to pull off a ninpo attack that involved a QTE-like finishing move. When it connected with Ayane, she was soon left hanging off the platform, one hand grip away from falling unto the obligatory DOA lower level. Tutorial commands on, I was given a selection of button prompts to choose from, allowing me to decide how I wanted to kick off Ayane.
In a way, I couldn't help but think these were inspired by the quick cutaway moments during special attacks that helped make Street Fighter IV a blockbuster. Whereas Capcom uses those cutaways for brief dramatic flare, Team Ninja wants to use those moments to make fights play out like a movie. For the sake of making the fight cinematic, it does its job, but this might be a tough sell for the longtime fans of the series.
With KoeiTecmo keeping the game's release date as "TBA 2012", we're optimistic there'll be more time for additional character roll out announcements. We'll be sure to keep you posted.
By: Miguel Concepcion