The lights are on
I do feel that Dan's criticisms of Dead or Alive 5 are overly harsh, but the game isn't fantastic. It is a solid fighter that is fun to play, without a doubt. However the shortcomings are difficult to ignore and detract from the overall package.
At high levels of play I think this game is probably one of the best out there, but for general accessibility it usually boils down to button mashing. For a casual fighting fan like me, the counter system is intimidating. While it is awesome and satisfying to actually pull one off, more often than not you'll end up pressing the wrong direction and getting walloped by your opponent.
The fighting mechanics are top notch though. If Virtua Fighter set the standard, then DoA elevated it. One punch and one kick seems like a lacking to a Tekken player, but there is a vast array of combos and attacks to learn. The Combo Throws and Combo Holds are spectacular to witness... although a casual like me usually witnesses them while the opponent is performing them to you.
The visuals are incredible. The new sweat animation is pointless, but it looks phenomenal in its pointlessness. The notorious "breast physics" are still in effect, and unless I'm really dating the wrong women I don't think breasts jiggle quite like they do in this game :-P. I have read claims that the XBox 360 version suffers from some graphical glitches like jaggies and tearing, but playing on the PS3 I have not encountered one of these issues. The frenetic action keeps up at a blistering pace at all times, with an orgy for your eyes on screen at all times. From the character models to the environments everything looks fantastic.
So, why a 7.5 and not higher? The accessibility mentioned previously costs the game one point. I love fighters, but I am not that good at them. No matter how hard I try I will never master animation frames and twitch reflexes. The Story Mode is good for what it is, but nothing spectacular, and the limiting of characters is disappointing. Also, the bonus objectives in Story Mode can be downright frustrating. There are times when the game requires you to be knocked down by the opponent in order to be in position to complete the objective. Finally, the Arcade Mode is lacking. A few costumes and color swaps can be unlocked, but that's about it. No endings, and no boss fight. As King of Fighters XII taught us, that is unacceptable.
Overall, this a good game. Not great, but certainly passing. If you enjoy the company of real humans, this game is great for friends to play. Just... don't be that guy that does nothing but ogle the digital ladies ;-)
Finally, a good review not seething with Butthurt. Very good, sir.