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6/26/2013

REVIEW: Dead or Alive 5 Plus (Vita)


Ever since Sony released it, the PS Vita has become the home of several fighting game ports from many developers. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat and Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend have found their way to the new portable console with excellent results. But in the case of 3D fighters, the first is Team NINJA’s Dead or Alive 5+, a portable version of the PS3 and Xbox 360 brawler that will finally allow for a solid DOA game wherever we go.

Back in September 2012, Team NINJA made the fifth entry to their Dead or Alive series, which is famous for its fast-paced and fluid combat, stage interaction not available in many other franchises and of course, the beautiful girls. Seven years it took for them to make a new game and the results were quite nice. The PS Vita version is pretty much an exact replica of the console one with of course, weaker graphical power, which is completely understandable.

In fact, the portable version of DOA5 offers some content that hardcore fans of the series have considered vital for competitive environment of the game like a much enhanced training mode and a combo challenge that allows for better understanding of what each character is capable of.


Dead or Alive 5+ looks fantastic on the PS Vita. Team NINJA managed to replicate the character models and stages in an excellent way in the portable console. It is of course weaker than the home console version, but for the Vita’s standards, the game definitely looks incredible. The animations, lightning effects, colors and textures are quite good so I don’t really think anyone competent will find any issues with the visuals. The frame rate is extremely solid as well and makes the game run exactly as anyone would want a portable version of DOA5 to do so.

Just like the console version, the game comes with Japanese and English voices. I personally prefer the Japanese ones because I’m used to them and find them quite good while some of the English ones are extremely annoying and don’t seem to fit the characters (This is especially Leifang’s case). The entire soundtrack from the PS360 version is here too with the addition of an option to play with the characters´ songs rather than the stages’. This makes for the inclusion of each fighter’s DOA4 theme plus new ones for Rig and Mila, the debuting characters in the fifth iteration.

Every mode is available in this port with the sole exception of Tag Battle, which is gone for some reason (a shame). Arcade, Time Attack and Survival make a return with many different difficulty settings for the AI which go from extremely easy to broken hard. These modes are good options to unlock costumes for each of the 24 available characters, including the Virtua Fighter guests, Akira Yuki, Pai Chan and Sarah Bryant.


Story Mode is there but I personally didn’t enjoy it at all and skipped through most of the cinematics (which I had already seen in the PS3 version). The plot in DOA5 is very, very bad. It’s boring, silly and makes little to no sense. You’re off completely ignoring it if you want to actually enjoy the game. Trust me on this. Still, if you must go, you’ll find a plot about some ninjas trying to destroy a corporation and a martial arts tournament for big-breasted girls to participate in. Ugh…

One of the very cool things that 5+ adds is the option for Cross-play and Cross-save data from the PS3 version. If you’re like me, you probably already have all characters and costumes unlocked in the console version. So all you need to do is to connect the Vita to your PS3 and DOA5+ will recognize your data and add the stuff you already unlocked. This is quite nice. It’s also possible to fight a PS3 player online but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Another new mode is touch fight where you choose a fighter and use the PS Vita’s touch screen in vertical position to fight an AI opponent. The mode is fun and does have potential but there’s really not much to do on it and it gets boring quickly. Training Plus offers a much enhanced version of the console’s training mode (which is already excellent) with extra data like recovery frames for each move, better content to understand the stun system and even numerical values to know if a juggle will hit or miss a character depending on his/her weight class. It’s VERY good and honestly, I’ve found myself now training exclusively on the Vita instead of the PS3 and Xbox 360.


The fights themselves are very intense and extremely fast. DOA5+ offers 24 different characters each with more than a hundred different moves that include punch and kick strings, throws and counter-attacks (named Holds) to stop an opponent’s strike. The game allows for excellent-looking combos and each stage has walls, explosive floors, low ceilings and other threats that can be activated on them and used in your favor. This is something I personally enjoy quite a lot from the DOA series, using the stage interaction in my favor.

The cast is excellent and offers many different fighter profiles like fast-paced ninjas (Kasumi, Ryu Hayabusa), slow but strong wrestlers (Bass, Tina) and more balanced fighters that can appeal to many different players that might want to get into the game. I personally find the game to be extremely well-balanced. Each character has more than enough options at his/her disposal to win against anyone so it’s just a matter of player skill level.

Versus mode works excellent with a local player and will prove to be very fun and no different than the same mode in the PS360 version. Sadly, online netcode is not as strong as in other fighters like Persona 4 Arena, even with the option to cross-play a PS3 player, so it’s going to be common to encounter some lag in online matches. It doesn’t happen all the time and sometimes it’s not even noticeable, but it’s there. Overall, the fighting experience in Dead or Alive 5+ is about the same as in the home consoles, something I find extremely positive after being a little disappointed with the 3DS game, Dead or Alive Dimensions.


Dead or Alive 5+ is a fantastic port of the console versions. It’s more than we could have asked for and to be honest, I’m very pleased with the result to the point where I can actually say it’s the best portable fighter I have ever played. Tag Mode was cut for unknown reasons but the improved Training Mode and Combo Challenge make up for it. The graphics and sound quality are of the best I’ve seen in any Vita game and the frame rate is very solid; a very important thing for a competitive fighter. With this game, it’s proven once again that Team NINJA seems to be going in the right direction with a franchise that always struggles in the fight for popularity against Soul Calibur and Tekken. Now I’m even more excited for DOA5 Ultimate.


Pros:

-          Excellent graphics and sound quality.
-          Very solid framerate.
-          Training Mode is fantastic and has a lot of useful information.
-          Combo challenge helps understand a character’s options.
-          Cross-save option.
-          Fast-paced and very fluid gameplay.

Cons:

-          Tag Battle is completely gone.
-          Story Mode is very weak.
-          Online netcode is not very strong.


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


-          Overall Score……………….. 8.8 / 10

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