Its chaotic brawls might be some way removed from the precision of Virtua Fighter and the technicality of BlazBlue but even so, Dead Or Alive’s rebirth as a ‘fighting entertainment’ game rather than a straight beat-’em-up marks an interesting turn for both the genre and the studio at the wheel. Speaking to games™ earlier this month, Team Ninja’s Yosuke Hayashi explained that players shouldn’t be put off by this new sub-genre – in fact, he’s confident that it’s the future of fighters. “With this new concept that we’re calling ‘fighting entertainment’, we have some which to us is the next step in the progression of fighting games,” he tells us. “People who like fighting games… they’ll know the series but they’ll be able to see how fighting games can become more interactive than they are right now. And for people that are new to fighting games coming into the series here, they’ll get a much greater experience than they would have with previous Dead Or Alive games.”
What is ‘fighting entertainment’, you ask? It’s basically a term that attempts to explain Dead Or Alive 5’s fusion of traditional beat-’em-up mechanics with huge cinematic set pieces and even QTEs – those that love fighters for the purity and the science might just find that the explosions and environmental hazards of Team Ninja leave them cold though taken on its own merits rather than comparing it directly to existing fighters, DOA’s reinvention certainly has entertainment value on its side. After all, what’s not to like about seeing a ninja smacking somebody off a huge building, only to be belted into an exploding car when he reaches the bottom? That’s right, nothing. Because it’s awesome. Yes, it’s daft but last time we checked, Dead Or Alive wasn’t exactly a franchise that took itself particularly seriously.
Even so, the new term is still managing to strike fear into the hearts of the fighting hardcore and there are parallels to be drawn with professional wrestling giant WWE’s branding of its matches as ‘sports entertaiment’, a move to differentiate its staged bouts from those of a proper sport. But while it might introduce a degree of scripting with its pre-planned event sequences, don’t take that as a sign that DOA5 is being dumbed down as a fighter. “Just because we call it fighting entertainment doesn’t mean that we’re taking away the fighting game elements,” explains Hayashi, evidently taking at least a little umbrage with our line of questioning. “Those elements are still there – we’re taking feedback from expert players and balancing the core fighting engine as usual. It’s not really that we just want to get casual users into the game. We really want core fighters to enjoy it as well. What we really wanted to do was to bring fighting games out of their two-dimensional hole… to let the fighters out of the square, so to speak, and show players a future view of what fighting games can be. This it what it can become and right now in this generation, you’ve got so much power that you can do it – sticking to making a fighter that is so hardcore in its roots would be a bit of a waste, we thought. We just wanted to redefine the genre.”
A full hands-on preview of Dead Or Alive 5 can be found in games™ 120.
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