Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is the fourth version of Dead or Alive 5 to be released. The initial version, which was available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, first appeared way back in 2012, before bobbling its way to PlayStation Vita and Arcade - there’s even a version planned for the PC, although it’s been pushed back until next month.
Those unfamiliar with the franchise might recognise it as “that fighting game with boobs.” You see, in addition to solid one-on-one fighting game chops, it also has physics-simulated breasts. In case you hadn’t already picked up on that fact, Tecmo Koei has seen fit to release a number of additional costumes for the game that highlight the pugilist’s protuberances, including some that reveal them almost in their entirety - all so you can appreciate the physics simulations, obviously.
Last Round brings the franchise to the current gen for the first time but it’s clear from the get-go that this is a port from the previous gen rather than something built from the ground up for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Simplistic environments and low-polygon count characters belie the game’s last-gen origins - should you happen to pay attention to anything that’s not rhythmically jiggling - and it’s clear there’s plenty of scope for even greater detail next time the developers decide to objectify women.
The story mode is well implemented from a technical point of view, allowing you to explore it in bite sized chunks and even revisit pieces at any point once you’ve completed them. This approach works well, in that it allows you to head back to training mode once you’ve encountered something that challenges you, which will happen more and more frequently as you progress.
What’s terrible about this mode is everything else. The story is pretty much the worst thing that’s ever been enacted by any character, animated or real, in the history of every single thing that ever was or will be. It’s basically impossible to follow, stupid, and utterly inconsistent. The characters are ridiculous - and not just because they are only almost dressed in some of the most bizarre costumes this reviewer has ever seen; think “strapless bikini meets dental floss”, or a very jaunty combo of half open belted kimono, tie-side bikini bottom, football shin pads, and thigh high compression stockings.
Our protagonists flit from one continent to another randomly launching into brutal fights with friends - or total strangers - in a story that flops all over the place nearly as much as game's double-G cup assets.
Fortunately, the fighting heart of Dead of Alive 5: Last Round is more robust than whatever is supposed to be holding up the combatant’s boobs. The fighting engine is newbie friendly whilst also holding up to deeper examination by hardcore fighting game fans. There’s depth galore, with reversals, sophisticated blocking mechanics, and a satisfying combo engine that will keep things interesting even in your thousandth grapple of a preposterously-proportioned bimbo spawned of a misogynist's wet dream.
What isn’t clear yet is just how well the fighting stands up to an online multiplayer scenario. At the time of writing, I’ve yet to find a combatant to batter distastefully online, making that particular mode hard to form an opinion on.
If you like DOA and would like to plummet to all-new depths of ridiculous superficiality on your new console, Last Round is definitely worth a look. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a really solid fighter, you should look elsewhere. Not because this isn’t one - it is; it’s very good even - but because it’s 2015 and it’s time to perhaps pause and ask what kind of audience is really out there for this kind of juvenile, disrespectful nonsense. And, even if it exists, whether you want to be part of it.
If multiplayer is your thing, look out for a rating of that particular component (and, by extension, the game as a whole) as soon as the mode is populated by other players.
This review will be updated with a score once we've been able to test the online multiplayer component.