At the end of February Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja released Dead or Alive 5: Last Round for the Xbox One and PS4. The game is scheduled to drop on March 30th for PC. The reviews from many European and American critics have slowly been rolling out for the game that dote on the sexualization of the characters, much to the frustration for the fans of the series.
Reviews from some sites like the U.K’s the Independent came out blasting on Dead or Alive 5: Last Round, writing in the review…
“If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, sometimes it’s really hard to be a video games fan. Take the Dead or Alive franchise for example, while a very entertaining and well balanced fighting game it also allows you to adjust the breast physics of the scantily clad female characters.”
The review over on the Independent by Jack Fleming ends with a wagging finger of disapproval for the game designers’ choice in character design, stating…
“It is, however, hard to ignore the objectification of the female characters, which makes the fact that this is actually quite a good game all the more annoying. This sort of needless fan service doesn’t add anything to the game and for me actually takes quite a lot away from the experience.”
This sentiment was shared, to a lesser degree by another U.K., site, Metro. Reviewer Roger Hargreaves laments the game’s reputation right at the start of the review, writing…
“Ask anyone to name the first thing that comes to mind when they think of fighting game franchise Dead Or Alive, and they’re almost certainly going to say ‘boobs’. Or, depending on their feelings on the matter, ‘sexism’. That’s not really a good sign for an almost two decade old franchise, that has always struggled for legitimacy in the face of other more technical fighters.”
“Struggled for legitimacy” in what way? Casuals don’t really care for fighting games and the FGC is concerned with a game’s technical capabilities, in which case a lot of fighters “struggle” for legitimacy in that arena.
Nevertheless, the boob-slider floored the sensibilities of Hargreaves like a ton of bricks crashing through a cheap wooden theater stage. Hargreaves states…
“To give an illustration of Dead Or Alive’s unhealthy attitude towards females the majority of its characters are all impossibly well-endowed women, whose breasts wobble about their chest like a pair of blancmanges. Not only that but this is the only video game that has a separate, three setting option for breast physics: Natural, DOA, or None. Which wouldn’t be so bad if Dead Or Alive had any hint of wit or charm about it, but most of the women are portrayed as simpering, personality-free automatons.”
Personality-free automatons? I think an argument could be made for a lot of characters in a lot of fighting games that fit that bill, including the actual personality-free automaton known as Jack from Tekken.
Metro settled on a 60 out of 100 over on Metacritic, in case you were wondering.
The Sixth Axis also docked points for the game’s dip into the game’s presentation of the human form as sexual ideals (although, for the male characters no one really cares… because men) stating…
“Sadly, a review of any Dead or Alive title wouldn’t be complete without some mention of its increasingly questionable portrayal of women. It’s unfortunate that along with the smirks and sniggers that some of the story scenes cause, no other title in recent memory has also made me feel quite so seedy and voyeuristic.“
There was also mention of the sexualization of the characters from Dutch gaming site Gamer.nl, with the reviewer, Simon Ziljemans, writing…
“…in combination with the new engine ‘skin softer and more realistic eyes do (read: even softer tits turns your screen) stores Dead or Alive 5: Last Round gone too far in his sexualization. A little exposed (in both sexes) was part of Dead or Alive. It was campy but not distracting.
Until now, because with tits an hour long dance the samba as a female character blinks her eyes, the point is reached that the sexualization begins to interfere. We feel just a little too convoluted. Especially if the additional poses, groan noises and lack of substance there is literally no more wipes to winds. Sin, for Dead or Alive has not so extremely necessary.”
What else would you expect from a review subtitled “Beef and Tits”? The “Cons” for the game from the Gamer.nl review are also quite hilarious…
“Series stands still, pay absurd amount of outfits, beaten by sexualization.”
If there’s one thing that fans agree on without a shadow of a doubt, it’s the “absurd amount of outfits” that turned out to be premium DLC.
On the Gamer.nl article gamers instantly fired back at the review, writing…
“Complain about tits, wow. Erm. I hear you anyway not …: P”
Even in the Netherlands they don’t seem to care much for progressive Social Justice Warrior criticisms.
The one thing most of the readers agreed on was that the biggest slap in the face was the DLC practice and not the giant boobs.
Over on Metacritic the biggest complaints about the PS4 version of the game is that it doesn’t stand up well in the face of games like Mortal Kombat X or Street Fighter V. Still, the biggest complaints from consumers and fans? The DLC.
As Dionysus777 pointed out…
DOA. Haven’t played since 4. This is a good fighter. More layed back than the deeper, faster 1s.(guilty gear) good to play after ur wrists are melted from that. Only have core fighters now, though plan on getting full game soon, if i can for $40. Want nothing to do with that dlc crap, and im knocking a point off my score 4 that. Dear developers the majority of gamers r adults and we dont like people trying to trick us or are children into overpriced crap. Thank-you.”
He obviously doesn’t need a lantern to see a DLC scam a mile off.
On the opposite end of the user review spectrum, there’s a lot of praise for the game’s modes, characters and fighting mechanics.
There are, however, a few reviewers who do agree with gamers about the core of the game and leave the arguments about “progressive” portrayals of women in the dust. Spanish website Meristation praised the game without really dwelling on fan service.
Italian website Multiplayer.it also rolls out an even-handed review, focusing more on the actual drawbacks of the game, such as the bug that crashes the game or the overpriced DLC.
PlayStation Lifestyle also rolls out a fair review of the game without getting bogged down in social politics, but it’s Digitally Downloaded from reviewer Matt S., that really hits the nail on the head by not only addressing the elephant in the room but also keeping a very level-head about it so as not to scare people off. In fact, it’s exactly what a review should be: informative, descriptive, opinionated enough about the content and a great consumer guide. Matt addresses the sexism issue by stating…
“I was fortunate enough to meet Yosuke Hayashi, the game’s director, last year when I interviewed him for my book, and he was very firm that Dead or Alive 5 doesn’t sit on the wrong side of being offensive to the Japanese. And this is certainly a perspective that, on a completely anecdotal level, I can appreciate. Having spent many months in Japan (and when I stay in Japan I actually live there, rather than do the hotel-and-tourist-trail side of the country), the country’s reputation for having more liberal attitudes towards sex and sexuality is well-founded. Without getting into a debate about whether Japan’s attitudes towards gender and sex are healthy (or whether we sitting here in the west with hundreds of years of Christian conservatism driven into our culture are in any position to judge), the important takeaway is that the game of Dead or Alive 5 itself are not overly offensive to the Japanese, and in kind while I wouldn’t necessarily whip it out as a party game, I don’t feel particularly uncomfortable as I am playing the game.”
However, the negative media portrayals of the game outweighs the long-time fans’ appreciation for Team Ninja’s bombastic fighter.
MCV is reporting that FGC members are livid about a new soft-ban from some tournament organizers who prohibit competitors from picking the more risque outfits in the game, where the tournament organizers stated…
“This is a movement that was discussed by several members of the community to try and help turn around the image that has plagued the franchise,” …DOA has always been known for its over-sexualized females and just that alone has pushed people away from even trying the game.
“Sex Appeal in the DOA franchise will never go away but we, the community, want people to take it seriously and started the costume ban at offline tournaments to force people to focus more on the gameplay aspect of the game.”
More than 100 of the costumes deemed “sexual” have been “soft” banned.
Fans see this as a form of tone policing game content and “censoring” the game. Purposefully trying to change the image of Dead or Alive and the tournament scene to fit the progressive agenda. It’s a little like trying to make punk-culture ripped jeans appeal to business executives… or better yet, banning Mai from King of Fighters tournaments because of her jiggle animations and skimpy outfit.
Over on the Eurogamer article, more disgruntled gamers made their textual voices known, writing in the comment section…
“DoA,[…] has long used the skimpy costumes as one of its core defining features. If you’re not comfortable with that, you’re probably best just leaving the franchise alone.”
Another commenter, Bilstar also echoed those sentiments, with most people agreeing, saying…
“Taking over-sexualised outfits out of DOA is maybe like taking the cutscenes out of the Metal Gear games. Some people would like it and it may make the series more attractive and accessible.
“But it’s not what the game is.”
It’s true – for better or for worse – Dead or Alive is defined and separated from most other fights for its sexualized characters, skimpy outfits and bouncing boobs. Without that it’s just a less interesting version of Tekken an even more tame version of Mortal Kombat, and an identical game to Virtua Fighter.
In response to the fan backlash, FGC organizer The HuBBs stated…
“We are not going to shun or distance ourselves from those who don’t want to use the soft ban. Has nothing to do with censorship or sexism. We just offered a new concept to try and promote the gameplay itself without viewers being too distracted by jiggling tits covered by dental floss.”
I’ve never been a fan of the Dead or Alive games but I always understood why they were popular. People like seeing things jiggle and bounce while they fight. Heck, the jiggling and bouncing was pretty prevalent in Mortal Kombat 9, too.
But what’s strange from these so-called “Social Justice Warriors” and progressives is relegating fictional women to objects of scrutiny instead of characters defined by their actions. The progressives seem to measure women by what they wear and how they’re proportioned instead of who they are.
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