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11/30/2012

Dead or Alive 5 Collector's Edition arrived!

My copy of the DOA5 Collector's Edition finally got here after my cousin held it for me in Miami for more than a month. It's really pretty, comes inside a big metal box with the contents inside which are: Art book, soundtrack CD, code to download bikini costumes for the girls, a poster with the whole roster of the game on it, a code to download Kasumi's frame data from the Prima website and the game itself of course. I got it for the PS3.

Look at a couple pictures I took of it:





REVIEW: Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Vita)



It would seem like Sony and its developers would stop releasing Uncharted games after the successful and great trilogy that appeared on the PS3, but fortunately for fans, a brand new title in the series has made its way to the company’s new portable system, the PS Vita. Nathan Drake once again shoots his way against hordes of mercenaries in an excellent way looking for treasure, a city lost in history and uncovering the mysteries of old legends.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss is simply one of the best Vita games right now and definitely the best-looking so far. The story takes place way before the events of Uncharted 1 and Nate has to uncover a secret and lost golden city in Panama along with his partner called Dante, a new female protagonist called Chase and of course, Sully (Elena and Chloe aren’t in the game sadly). Like in the PS3 games, he’ll climb a lot of impossible walls and ledges, shoot and fight hundreds of mercenaries and solve curious puzzle to reach his objectives. This time, however, the players will make use of the Vita’s many cute motion and touch controls for this.

Graphically, the game is truly awesome. The environments are full of jungles and forests and trust me when I say that the visuals can be compared with Uncharted 1. It has excellent textures, solid frame rate, great lightning effects and animations in everything, characters and locations. Bend Studio seems to have learned a lot from the original creators Naughty Dog when they recreated Nate’s adventure in the Vita.

There isn’t much environmental variety as there was in Uncharted 2. Most of the game takes place in the Panama jungles, mountains and forests so there’s a lot of green to run and climb around. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the graphics are so beautiful that every area has its charm and players really won’t be able to blame themselves when they find themselves stopping here and there just to look at the areas the game takes place in.

One of the things that usually seem to hurt portable games is the sound quality. To be honest, I have a hard time remembering a DS or PSP game with truly good sound quality other than probably Dissidia 012. That is not the case with the Vita games and especially Uncharted: Golden Abyss. This game doesn’t have anything to envy from the PS3 counterparts. It has an excellent soundtrack very much like the PS3 games with a style that fits the historical feeling of the game and the things the plot are about.

Like his older brothers, Golden Abyss has godlike voice acting. Nate and Sully are represented by the same actors as before and the new characters have excellent voices as well. They truly feel like real people, which is something that many games seem to have a hard time achieving, especially JRPGs when they get localized (Hello Xenoblade, I still remember your terribad English voice acting). Listening to the Uncharted characters talk is like watching a good action movie.

The sound effects are just as good. The game takes place in natural environments for the most part and the ambient sounds make them feel real. There are rivers, animals, rocks falling down and things like that. There are also footsteps, firefights, yells, etc. Everything is there and I don’t think it could represent what happens on the screen in a better way.

Basically, the gameplay is not as different as the PS3 versions if you just look at it. Nate will run around, climb a lot of things that seem impossible for a normal human being, shoot a lot of enemies using the cover system and iron sight and solve some old puzzles here and there. This time, however, most of the gameplay will have the option to be played via motion sensor or touch screen and pad.

Climbing, for example can be completely done by touching the areas in the screen where you want Nate to climb to. Swinging from a rope can be done by moving the Vita itself as well and even aiming while he’s using his iron sight. Things like these are 100% optional which means they can be done normally with the buttons like it’s done on PS3 so players can choose whatever method they feel more comfortable with but the Vita controls are so well elaborated and feel so natural that it is simply better to use those over the conventional buttons.

Puzzles are another story though. The vast majority of them require use of Vita controls. Some will have you rotate a stone key using the front touch screen, others will make players clean a specific device using the touch screen and rotating it with the rear touch part of the system. One of them even uses the camera to catch light and read a hidden message in some old papers. They’re truly varied, curious and fun to solve.

At first, combat will seem a little bit difficult in Golden Abyss because aiming with the right analog stick in the Vita doesn’t feel as natural as the Dual Shock 3 one, but after a while you’ll most likely get used to it. I had a lot of trouble at first and was dying a lot but by the middle of the story I was already landing headshots constantly with the FAL and AK-47. Most of the usual Uncharted weapons are there, the pistols, M4, AK-47, FAL, RPG-7, shotgun and even Uncharted 2’s minigun from the big armored guys (who seem easier to kill this time around).  Melee combat also has you use the touch controls but it’s really fun. You see a line in the screen that you’re supposed to follow to land a successful punch or kick to the guy Nate is fighting at the moment.

The annoying snipers with lasers are there, just like the armored dudes with shotguns who seem to love to get close to Nate for a close-distance kill and all of them are of course accompanied by dozens and dozens of the normal mercenaries you’ll have to shoot even while you climb. The combat is intense and extremely fun in Golden Abyss.

Sadly, there’s no multiplayer at all which would have been more than welcome for the game, especially considering the solid multiplayer Uncharted 2 and 3 have on PS3. This hurts the replay value a bit just like it did to the very first game of the series. Fortunately, Golden Abyss has tons, and I mean TONS of secret items to get and extra puzzles to solve before you really complete it 100%. There’s even a nice bounty-hunting system where some specific mercenaries in the story have a designated name and after being killed, a list is filled. It’s a simple way to add variety and replay value, but a nice and fun one.

For closing comments, I can really say Uncharted: Golden Abyss is definitely the best-looking game in the Vita right now and one of its best titles along with Gravity Rush, Ninja Gaiden, Persona 4, Little Big Planet and others. Anyone with a PS Vita simply needs to get his/her hands on this game. A new adventure by Nathan Drake and Sully is always welcome in a Sony console and Golden Abyss does it right, even if it’s not made by Naughty Dog.


Pros:

-          Excellent graphics and visual presentation.
-          Touch and motion controls are well elaborated and feel natural.
-          Great combat and shooting mechanics.
-          Awesome puzzles to solve.
-          Beautiful landscapes to visit.
-          Godlike voice acting and narrative.
-          Nate and Sully make a truly amazing team.
-          Tons of hidden items to obtain.


Cons:

-          No multiplayer.
-          Aiming with the right stick takes a little time to get used to.


-          Graphics and Visuals…….…..10
-          Music and Sound Effects…......9
-          Gameplay……………….....…9
-          Replay Value………………....8

-          Overall Score……………….. 9 / 10

Tales of Graces f main arc finished!

I just ended the main story in Tales of Graces f. The game is EXCELLENT in combat and ok-ish outside it. I didn't like that ending very much but Tales games aren't usually very strong story-wise. The combat though, more than makes up for everything in it, it truly is excellent. I'm gonna throw some spoilers here so be advised.

I really didn't like the fact that Richard didn't rejoin the party in the main arc after he leaves. The game kinda pulled another Flynn from Vesperia again where I went through the entire game expecting Flynn to join only to be disappointed at the end. Still, the seven characters you do get during the main arc are incredible. Even Asbel who looks like the generic sword guy has amazing combos and abilities at his disposal. Playing with Malik and Pascal is incredibly fun too.


Now, after the main arc is finished you unlock a future arc where Richard does join. According to the posters in the official Tales community, the future arc adds between 10 and 15 hours of gameplay so that should be good. I'm not ready to put this game down yet. Besides, the actual game isn't really over until the future arc is finished.

I really recommend the game, mostly because of the combat. It's one of the best action-RPG battle systems I've played in my life, I always thought Star Ocean and the older Tales were amazing but Graces takes this system to another level, it's that good. Just like I said, outside battle, the game doesn't do anything special but the combat truly makes up for any issues anyone might find (which aren't bad at all). I'll of course review the game along with Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Halo 4, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Kirby Dream Collection. That's five reviews I have to write. Fortunately, Christmas break is coming and I'll have time for it.

11/28/2012

I might revive my anime section

 Though I haven't written about anime for a while, it doesn't mean I've stopped watching them. In fact, I'm really hooked to some different series right now. I'm planning on reviving the anime section which I stopped working on because I simply am not an expert on the matter so making anime reviews isn't as good for me as making gaming ones. But since this is mostly a personal blog about opinion stuff I believe the anime section is more than welcome to come back. 

Ever since I reviewed Code Geass many months ago, I've watched several series including Saint Seiya Omega, Hyakka Ryouran, Blue Dragon, Divergence Eve, Squid Girl, I can't believe my sister is this cute and my new favorite anime: Gundam 00. I actually haven't finished Squid Girl and Gundam 00 yet but I'm planning on writing a bit about them in the near future. 

Squid Girl is incredibly funny. It's about this squid lolita that comes out of the sea to invade mankind because we're polluting the oceans but ultimately ends up working in a beach restaurant with some other girls. It's extremely funny and the jokes remind me a lot of Azumanga Daioh. 

Gundam 00 is much, much better than I could put into words. It takes place in the near future where humanity is abandoning oil for Sun energy completely but a lot of armed conflicts are happening around the globe. So a rebel team using some uber powerful mobile suits called "Gundam" appear under the name "Celestial Being". It's simply fantastic. It has excellent narrative, characters, art and combat. I'm slowly becoming a Gundam fan because of it.

So, I'll most likely resume writing about anime in this blog and adding them to the usual section. I'd like the revive the figure section as well but since I haven't gotten anything new in months, I don't really have anything to post. Unless I take some picture of old figures I bought. Ah, I did order a chinese version of a Hatsune Miku figure but it's gonna take a while to get here. If she ends up being pretty, I'll post a gallery of her.

Halo 4 gotten and finished!

My Collector's Edition copy of Halo 4 finally arrived last week and I got to finish the game's campaign during the weekend. It's very cool but I feel that at the end, the previous games simply had a better story and campaign pace. Halo 4 has an incredible campaign but at least for me, not even close to the Bungie titles. 


I loved playing as the Chief again with Cortana accompanying me. That took me back, the weapons were very nice for the most part (Except the new Forerunner ones which are simply retarded). The DMR and Needler feel really strong in this game and killing shit with them is extremely satisfying. It has excellent graphics, sound quality and presentation but to be quite honest, I didn't like the story very much. I've yet to play Spartan Ops, competitive multiplayer and the other things so all I can tell in this post is from the campaign. In fact, most of what I'm going to talk about here are negative things I found personally but can't really mention in a review. 

I didn't like that there's no explanation as to why the Covenant are enemies again. One of the books claims that after Halo 3, a fanatical faction from them decides to break the truce and keep searching for the "Great Journey" the way the Prophet of Truth did. These guys are the enemies we encounter in Halo 4 because the real Covenant are at peace with Humans. 

The Arbiter didn't appear in the game, which pissed me the fuck off. After Halo 2 and 3 had him share the spotlight with the Chief, Halo 4 simply decides to forget about him and there's no mention of the guy in the Campaign at all. The Elites themselves are a joke. I played the entire game in Heroic and sometimes the Jackals gave me worse problems. Everyone complained at the lack of Elites in Halo 3 as an enemy, they came back in Reach in an EXCELLENT way and Halo 4 just went and destroyed what they represent to that universe. We as players are supposed to be posed a realistic threat when faced against Elites in Heroic difficulty, not brain-dead idiots armed with Plasma Rifles and Needlers that simply fall to a few shots of whatever weapon the Chief happens to be holding at the moment. This kinda happens with the Hunters as well. Remember being able to easily dodge their melee attacks and shoot them in the back in Halo 1¿ (a 2001 game) Well the same happens most of the times in Halo 4. 


Those Promethean fuckers are the worst enemy in the entire series. Even the Flood were better. 80% of them are these dog things that just run around waiting to get a headshot, they don't feel scary, they're extremely easy to kill and they're simply lame. The Knights are a little better but they're behavior is exactly the one as the Elites'. They run around using the shitty new Forerunner weapons (which are incredibly dumb) and die quickly after their shields are drained. Just like the Elites! They don't swarm the chief, they don't have a different attack pattern like the Flood had or anything like that.

The Covenant were stripped of three of its combat races. Drones, Brutes and Engineers are nowhere to be seen which means that during the entire game we'll fight the same Covenant platoons over and over. Drones, Brutes and Engineers added variety to the alien army and without any real explanation, they're gone and replaced by hundreds of orange dogs. Yes, dogs.


The human and Covenant weapons are nice. There's a new light machine-gun in the human arsenal just like a Railgun and the Sticky Detonator, which is extremely cool. The Plasma Rifle is replaced by another weapon that does pretty much the same, the Needler is OP and the Carbine is back. The Needle Rifle is gone sadly but the Carbine is good enough. The problem is that, since the campaign forces the Chief to fight alone in these Forerunner structures, ammo for the human weapons and battery for the plasma ones is scarce so players have no option but to fight with the new Forerunner weapons which LOOK very pretty but are boring to use. There's a pistol, a shotgun, an assault rifle, a DMR-kinda one and another that shoots a small exploding projectile. Hey! Those are the same profiles as the human weapons! BORING SHIT.

I think that this story about the Didact wanting to destroy humanity was not necessary but well, the Xbox needed a new Halo game I guess. It's not bad by any means and it's actually better than most retarded shooter campaigns out there but Halo 4 definitely has the worst campaign of the entire series. I'm actually pretty excited about Spartan Ops and Multiplayer, which I suppose I'll try online during the weekend before writing a review for the game. I still recommend getting this game over Black Ops 2 though.

Now, besides all that there's actually a lot of shit I DID like about the game but I'll just go to that in the review I'll write after I try multiplayer and Spartan Ops. I also have to remember to download the Forward Unto Dawn series. Shit, that's a lot of Halo for the following days.

I got a couple pictures of the Collector's Edition box:







11/26/2012

REVIEW: Alice: Madness Returns (Xbox 360)



Alice: Madness Returns is the second game in the series made by American McGee, who takes us to see, explore and enjoy a very different take on the Alice in Wonderland tale, a darker and much mature version of it. The first game was originally available only in PC but the second comes with a code to enjoy it in consoles for free. Madness Returns is developed by Spicy Horse and uses Unreal Technology. It is available for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

The game lets players take control of Alice, an orphan girl in 1875 London who lost her entire family to a deathly fire that struck the mansion where she lived happily, visiting Wonderland in her mind. Now 19, Alice lives in an orphanage under the care of a psychiatrist who plans to make her forget her bad memories and Wonderland hallucinations. Yet, they keep appearing and Alice has to explore the world of a twisted Wonderland once again to help its residents, learn more about the tragedy that killed her family and stop an infernal train from destroying and corrupting Wonderland.

In paper, the game is quite good and very interesting. Alice in Wonderland has always been an excellent tale and perfectly suited for changes and video game worlds. Madness Returns has excellent art and environments but sadly, the game falls short in many aspects that ultimately don’t allow it to stand up against other games of the genre.

Graphically, Madness Returns is quite good. It uses Unreal Technology which allows it to have excellent textures, lightning effects and anti-aliasing in its Xbox 360 version. The game has many areas to explore inside Wonderland like a very bizarre forest, a steampunk factory, an eastern mountain or a sky filled with cards Alice has to use to move around. The game runs at a steady 60 frames-per-second at all times. There are no slowdowns to be noticed and loading times are usually short, which is good. In visuals, Madness Returns is very good.

In the sound department, the game has a non-existent soundtrack. All the worlds just have this usual “creepy” sound loop playing over and over. There’s no actual music. One can understand that the game’s environment needed to transmit that scary, dark feeling at all times but the lack of a soundtrack hurts the game. Some of the battles have a song just like story sections but in the rest of the game, there’s nothing but a loop of creepy bass sounds and the like.

The voice acting is quite good actually, Alice speaks in a very beautiful British accent and most of the other characters have great dialogs and voices to go with them. This is very important to the game because the story is a little bit confusing and the player needs to pay attention to the story sections to understand what is happening via the dialogs of the Wonderland and London characters with Alice.

Gameplay-wise, it feels like Madness Returns really did try to be a great game, but ended up falling short in many aspects. This is an action-adventure/platforming game so players can expect Alice to jump around, run to get from one place to the next and fight bizarre enemies in Wonderland. All that happens in it but the gameplay doesn’t really evolve at any moment. From the very moment Alice goes back to Wonderland, players will do the same things over and over until the game ends.

Wonderland levels seem to follow a never-ending formula of platforming-killing a few enemies-repeat. The real problem is that all the platforming sections are almost the same, unlike in different games that use platforming like Uncharted or Super Mario Galaxy where each section is unique and require the characters to do different things. Alice usually just jumps from one platform to the next, destroys some obstacles to obtain a “secret” item or floats around using some steam vents.

Combat in Madness Returns suffers from the same problem as the platforming. All the enemies in the game are defeated in the same way. Just hit them until they die. The game actually tries to throw some “different” enemies in each world but in reality, they just feel like different skins to entities that can actually inflict damage to Alice. Besides, during the game, the British crazy girl can collect “teeth” everywhere to upgrade the four weapons available and at one point about halfway through; she’ll feel somewhat overpowered, being able to dispose most enemies with two or three hits of her Vorpal Blade or Teapot Cannon.

Another very negative thing in the game is the lack of actual boss battles. Madness Returns could have benefitted a lot from cool and scary bosses, but for some reason, the developers decided not to use any except for a “final boss” at the end of the game that is not very good. Instead of using a boss to end levels, they simply end with an abrupt story cinematic. It’s very weird.

Fortunately, the controls are responsive, smooth and easy to understand to everyone. Each weapon uses an exclusive button so there no need to equip them via a menu or anything like that. Jumping and floating feels nice and the combat, while repetitive, is fun. In some parts of the Wonderland levels, the game will try to change the pace with different sections that go outside platforming and fighting. For example, the eastern level has Alice go to a 2D platforming world with an art style that kind of reminds players of Rayman Origins. Some jigsaw puzzles are there as well. The thing is that the first time, they feel nice and are welcome but later, the game decides to use the same kind of sections and jigsaw puzzles over and over and it leads to boredom and repetition.

There are some extra optional items scattered all over Wonderland. Some memories that will make Alice remember a conversation that will eventually lead her to solve the mystery of the fire that killed her family, bottles and teeth to upgrade her four weapons. These are optional but cool to search for. The game is not very long so it can actually be enjoyed a couple of times if someone likes it enough. Besides that, there are some DLC dresses for Alice to wear in Wonderland.

Alice: Madness Returns ends up being a decent game. It’s not bad by any means but it doesn’t exploit the full potential it had and the fantastic world it takes place in. The game has excellent graphics and controls but the gameplay and lack of a real soundtrack hurts it a lot. It’s easy to recommend because it’s really not bad but it doesn’t evolve enough and it’s not better than many other games of the same genres out there. The good part is that these days, the game can be found at a great price of around 20 dollars and it comes with a code to download the first game for free.


Pros:

-          Fantastic dark and scary take on Wonderland.
-          Smooth and easy controls.
-          Good voice acting.
-          Great graphics.


Cons:

-          Gameplay doesn’t evolve.
-          Attempts to change the pace aren’t good.
-          Combat is too simple.
-          No boss battles.
-          The game itself is quite repetitive.


-          Graphics and Visuals………...9
-          Music and Sound Effects….....6
-          Gameplay……………………7
-          Replay Value………………...7

-          Overall Score……………….. 7.3 / 10

11/21/2012

Wii U, worth the purchase¿

The Wii U came out two days ago and so far, everyone I know who actually got the console can't really give me a good reason for purchasing it. One of my friends from the DOA5 forums even said "I don't know what to do with it..." which I find pretty funny. The system simply doesn't have enough games to make me want to own one right now.

Razor's Edge and Bayonetta 2 could be nice titles but not enough to buy a 350$ system for them. Definitely not, the Mario game I'm not interested one bit and ZombieU well... simply not. Just like with the Wii, I'm sure the cool franchises like Zelda, Kirby and Metroid will eventually make their way into the console and once they do, I'll probably think about purchasing one. UNLESS I travel to the US soon which just might happen in the following months. If I do I'll take the opportunity and get one.


Still, I'm a little skeptical about the errors the system has and whether or not a future problem will present like the one where the launch-window Wii consoles refused to read games like Xenoblade, Metroid: Other M or The Last Story because of an issue with the discs those games use. That was extremely retarded on Nintendo's part to be honest.

This makes me think a little about the end of the current generation. It's been quite a while. I feel like I got my first Xbox 360 and PS3 like an eternity ago and they're still strong. I wonder how the next Sony and Microsoft consoles will be...¿

Anyway, while it's good to see a new console in the market, this one definitely doesn't interest me like the 3DS and Vita did. I recognize it's good and the gamepad tablet thing is cute but there simply aren't any games I like on it so far. I hope that changes soon.

Tales of Graces f started!

I downloaded an iPhone application that chooses random things from custom lists. Since I couldn't decide what single-player game to start after I went through Alice and Uncharted GA, I made the app choose for me and it said Tales of Graces f. So be it!

I've already put about 12 hours into it in only three days. That's quite a lot, but the game is seriously good. The start is slow with a very long story about some of the characters when they were kids. It lasts about 4-5 good hours and you don't even get to enjoy the cool parts of the battle system until everyone grows up and the "real" game starts. Man, Tales of Graces has a fantastic battle system.



The perspective changed since Symphonia, Abyss and Vesperia. Camera is different and there's a sidestep system now to avoid enemy attacks. TP is gone which is great news, it's replaced by a self-regenerating numeric system. Every art now uses a set number of points and they regenerate so quickly that you can literally cast spells and use melee artes many times without worry. 

Melee characters changed a lot, in all past games all they required was to deal combos with normal hits and artes but now all of them work in a different way. Asbel, the main protagonist, has different attributes for his artes whether his sword is sheathed or not. He can heal himself after dealing damage with specific arts and each of his attacks has different traits to deal massive damage to different kind of enemies. 

Combat-wise, Graces looks similar to Vesperia/Abyss but is actually extremely different when you sit down and play it. I've tried some of the characters and they're all pretty cool. The game also left the old-school world-map behind and now you travel between cities and towns via well-elaborated roads and ferries (I suppose an airship will be available at some point). I'll keep this updated with my experience with the game. 

11/18/2012

Uncharted: Golden Abyss finished!

I just finished the Uncharted game for the Vita and I'm really pleased with it. I regret having taken so much time to finish it since I first got it. It's truly amazing. The story is similar to the PS3 versions with Nate looking for a lost legendary city in a race against some mercenary, ex-military evil dudes who want all the gold. Sully is there and three new characters. No sign of Chloe and obviously no Elena since Nate and her meet in Uncharted 1. (Golden Abyss takes place before Uncharted 1, when Sully's hair was still black).

Gameplay-wise is similar with Nate climbing, running and shooting his way through excellently-designed levels but this time, puzzles are solved via the use of the touch-screen, tilting the Vita, using the sensors in the back of the machine or things like that. Climbing and aiming can also be done via motion sensors and touching but are 100% optional, I did it here and there and it's comfortable and excellently done. 



I played in Hard since the beginning and the game felt OK, not impossible and not a breeze, I died sometimes but nothing I couldn't handle. Most of the iconic weapons are there: FAL, AK-47, Desert Eagle, Moss, etc. Sadly, there's no multiplayer which could have been excellent. But on the other hand, the game has a LOT, and I mean A FUCKING WHOLE LOT of hidden treasures and optional puzzles to solve if you decide to take on it a second (or third) time or hunt for the trophies for a platinum.

So there's that, if you own a Vita or are planning on getting one, this is DEFINITELY one of the killer-apps for it. It's a truly excellent game. Just like Ninja Gaiden and Gravity Rush. I really had a lot of luck with my first games for this console. I'll be writing a review for it during next weeks just like with Alice: Madness Returns.

11/16/2012

REVIEW: Dead or Alive 5 (Xbox 360/PS3)



Dead or Alive 5 is finally out. It’s been seven years since home consoles got a new game from this franchise and fans like me have been desperate to get our hands on the game. While not very popular and with a small community, the DOA games have always been considered flashy, fast, deep and very beautiful. Now that DOA5 has been out for a while, I can finally come up with final take on what’s good and what’s not so good about it.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Dead or Alive is a fighting game franchise created by Team Ninja, a development team inside Tecmo-Koei, the last console version of the franchise was Dead or Alive 4, an exclusive Xbox 360 title that came out back in 2005 and, while nice to most of the public, didn’t seem to get much acceptance in the now-growing Fighting Game Community for involving too much guessing that made the game too random in high-level play. Dead or Alive 5 makes a pretty good job at fixing most of those problems and have a very deep system that will please both casual players and competitive ones alike.

Let’s go to the visuals first. Dead or Alive 5 is definitely a very-good looking game. Graphically it’s incredible, possibly the best-looking fighting game of this generation, even better than Soul Calibur V. The characters changed their looks dramatically, leaving behind the anime-style from the DOA1-DOA4 era for a more realistic take. They look more human, are much better animated, they get dirty and sweat while fighting and simply look much better than ever. The girls are more beautiful now. This franchise has always been known for having the most gorgeous females in the industry and DOA5 definitely takes that very seriously. Girls like Tina, Kasumi and Leifang are back and more beautiful than ever before.

Another thing Team Ninja has always been proud about is their stages. Dead or Alive has some of the most beautiful, varied and interactive stages in the genre and DOA5 is no different. The fights will take players to construction sites being destroyed, warzones with tanks and helicopters, jungles with tons of animals around and even different circus shows. For the most part, the stages look incredible but I’ve really got to complain about the floor and wall textures in some of them.

When you pay enough attention to them or the fight is taking place near a specific wall, the texture isn’t very pretty and looks like it was rushed in or something. This is especially noticeable in the floor of the Sakura stage where there’s supposed to be grass but most of it is just a plain green floor. Still, I have to say that the fights are so fast and intense that this is hard to notice and you really have to look for it. Besides it doesn’t happen in all stages. And trust me, the look of the characters and objects in the screen more than makes up for it.

In terms of animations, the game is simply fantastic. It’s very fast and looks really beautiful. Most characters have tons of flashy moves that are excellently animated, like Ryu Hayabusa’s Izuna Otoshi or Jann Lee’s Way of the Dragon throw. Added to that, launching an opponent to a specific wall or floor of any stage will trigger a “Dangerzone” that will many times change the shape of the stage drastically. In the “Scramble” stage for example, the entire construction site can crumble and huge pieces of the building will fall around the stage, changing its size while the two players still fight. “Fuel” is an oil refinery that can get caught in a spectacular fire while the fighters are at it. It’s really beautiful and no matter how many times it happens, you won’t get tired of it.

In the sound department the game doesn’t really do anything new, but it doesn’t do anything bad either. First, the soundtrack is better than the one in DOA4. Each stage has its own track and the majority of them fit perfectly with the stage it represents. The songs are the usual fighting game tune, with small 2-3 minutes loops repeating. I especially like the song in the “The Ends of the Earth” stage, it reminds me of the soundtracks in the Megaman X franchise. “Sakura” and “Temple of the Dragon” also have pretty good songs.

A very negative thing I found in the soundtrack is the song that plays in the online menus. It’s a rap song composed by a veteran high-level player named “Chosen1”. The song is actually nice and it’s even better that Team Ninja made the decision to take it into consideration and put it in the game. But when you play a lot online, you simply get tired of it because it repeats once and again. Xbox 360 users can simply make use of custom soundtracks but PS3 ones will have to endure it.

The sound effects are a pretty good mix of realistic sounds for when the stages break apart and ambient sounds with cartoony ones of the strikes themselves. The sounds are really well administered so there’s nothing wrong there. For the voice acting, some of the old characters got most of their fight yells and screams recycled from DOA3, 2 Ultimate and 4 but got different lines for before and after fights.

Gameplay-wise, Dead or Alive 5 will feel really familiar to fans of the previous games at first. Newcomers will also feel very welcome because DOA is easy-to-get-into and the execution of strings and movement isn’t very hard. But the game has actually included tons of new mechanics that make it a very deep fighter worthy of consideration to the community.

Dead or Alive 5 works with only three buttons: Punch, Kick and Block and mixing two or the three of them have different effects like throws and other special strikes, exactly like in Virtua Fighter. Characters make use of strings of punches, kicks and throws to try and overcome their opponents before being knocked-out themselves. Like in every fighting game out there, there are fast rush-down characters like Kasumi and Christie who make a lot of incredibly fast moves and are hard to interrupt while others like Bass or Tina are slower but hit much harder and can deal tons of damage with their throws. The total cast of the game is composed of 24 characters including newcomers like the MMA female fighter Mila and the Tae-Kwon-Do user Rig. The Dead or Alive 4 boss ALPHA-152 is also there and three characters from Virtua Fighter appear as guests: Akira Yuki, Sarah Bryant and Pai Chan. The cast is excellent and you’re guaranteed to find at least one that will suit your play-style in an excellent way.

DOA5 still makes use of the hold system, also known as counterhold system in which any character can counterattack a specific strike and deal damage to the attacker. This system has been the cause of many debates among the competitive scene because the game allows the defender to hold while he/she is in a stun which would normally mean that a combo is pretty much guaranteed (This happens in games like Virtua Fighter). Using counterholds while stunned is still possible in DOA5 but now the vast majority of characters have specific attacks that cause stuns that will not allow the defender to counterhold out of them, this benefits the offensive game by a lot and slightly fixes one of the major problems the high-level community had with Dead or Alive 4.

Besides the stun system itself, forcing an opponent into a wall or launching them to a ceiling or floor will give much better options to the attacker. That way, the stage interaction becomes much better than in the previous game. If you want to be good in DOA5, you’ll definitely want to make your opponent move towards a wall to make use of better combos than in open space. Most stages are very different, having specific effects for their walls, floors, ceilings and even breakable objects in the middle of them. It’s really nice to see a 3D fighter make such a great use of stage interaction.

The game also includes many other mechanics present in other fighters. For example, frame advantage is now very important just like attempting to play with safe-on-block moves to avoid the defender to deal damage. Sabakis are present in the game and characters like Leifang make a lot of use for them. Throwing is more important than ever for the grapplers and now, Team Ninja added a sidestep system to force an opponent’s linear attack to miss, avoid it from the side and regain the offensive. Sidestepping in DOA5 works very similar to Tekken and Virtua Fighter and it is very important not only to avoid attacks, but for stage positioning as well.

Like most fighters, Dead or Alive 5 has many game modes. Story Mode will continue on the events from DOA4 in which the ninjas are searching for Kasumi’s clone, ALPHA-152 and taking revenge on DOATEC while other characters like Helena Douglas are trying to rebuild the company. The story, to be quite honest, isn’t very good and definitely not interesting other than to farm some of the 500+ titles available in an internal achievement list in the game, unlocking hidden characters and learning some of the basics of the system if you’re new to the game. But the narrative and story isn’t good at all. Fighting games in general seem to suffer a lot from poor stories.

Arcade, Time Attack and Survival modes are there and can be played on both single and tag battle, in which two fighters take on other two as teams and have special throws involving both of them sometimes. These three modes are perfect for practicing and unlocking costumes for the characters. In the later difficulties, they become quite hard though.

Training mode is there as well and better than ever. It allows you to take a look at the entire move list of any character, their attributes, damage numbers and even frame data. You can change how the training dummy behaves to the point of recording specific actions and make it do them over and over. This means that if you have problems doing something against a specific string, you can make the training dummy do it on you repeatedly and learn how to shut it down. Training Mode in DOA5 is just as good as the ones in VF4 Evolution and VF5 Final Showdown.

In the online modes, you can play Ranked Matches or Unranked Matches. First you put the search options you want to use like number of rounds, location of the opponents to avoid lag and things like that and then you fight a human opponent when the game finds him/her. Lobby Matches are similar to the system used in DOA2U and DOA4 where several players join in a room and can play and watch other people play while they talk with their headsets or use an internal chat system for the game. When the game first came out, the performance online was seriously bad, but a recent patch upgraded it by a lot and now the game runs fine most of the times. Still the performance isn’t as good as Soul Calibur V or VF5: Final Showdown but it’s playable to most of the public. High-level competitive players will notice that sometimes they won’t be able to punish an unsafe move or low block on reaction because of the lag but casual and common players won’t really have a problem with that.

Dead or Alive 5 is a more-than-welcome addition to the growing catalog of fighting games this generation. It’s a gorgeous-looking game with excellent graphics, music and a very deep fighting system even the most competitive players will enjoy. The cast of fighters is fantastic and extremely varied, just like the stage selection and game modes, making the game have a pretty much infinite replay value. With all characters having more than a hundred moves each and the mechanics being so deep, you’ll always find something new to learn and add to your play-style. This is an amazing 3D fighter that every player out there should get their hands on.


Pros:

-          Excellent roster of 24 different characters.
-          Stage interaction is fantastic.
-          Great visuals and music.
-          The girls are more beautiful than ever.
-          Fighting mechanics are easy-to-get-into but hard to master.
-          Training mode is extremely useful.


Cons:

-          Online performance is not perfect.
-          The story is really bad.


-          Graphics and Visuals……..…..9
-          Music and Sound Effects…......9
-          Gameplay……………………10
-          Replay Value………………...10

-          Overall Score……………….. 9.5 / 10