Title: Dead or Alive 5 Plus
Developer: Tecmo Koei
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 2.5 GB
NA Availability: Digital Download | Retail
EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: Yes
Fighting games is a genre that is plentiful on the PlayStation Vita especially. Ever since the launch of Sony’s handheld system, it’s been full of fighting games for players to get into and enjoy. With launch, came BlazBlue: Continuum Shift EXTEND and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, which showed just how impressive fighters can look and play on the small handheld.
Since then, the Vita has been home to a plethora of other fighting games, most of which we have played and reviewed. If you think back, we have seen the likes of Arcana Hearts 3; Love Max, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Mortal Kombat, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Street Fighter x Tekken, and more. More and more console fighters are coming to the handheld, with unique features and some even have features to enable play against console players.
Ever since we played and reviewed the PSP game Dead or Alive Paradise, we wanted to test out the series in its normal form. When searching through games on the Vita, we found that one of the newest games in the Dead or Alive franchise did make its way onto the Vita. Bringing cross-platform play and a host of fighters from many franchises, here is our official review of Dead or Alive 5 Plus.
Dead or Alive 5 takes place two years after the events of Dead or Alive 4, where the evil corporation known as DOATEC was taken down for its biological and military experiments. Since then, Helena Douglas has re-organized DOATEC to offer a more peaceful future and is preparing to host a new Dead or Alive tournament as a showcasing of the re-organized company. Meanwhile, Kasumi and the rest of the ninja clan are on a hunt for Alpha-152, a deadly biological weapon created by the previous DOATEC execute, Victor Donovan.
The storyline of Dead or Alive 5 plays in segments and swaps back and forth between characters as well as plots. There are two main storylines to Dead or Alive 5. The first is centered around DOATEC’s Dead or Alive 5 Tournament, and the other is centered around chasing down Alpha-152. The story is much more involved than one may expect from a fighting game, and it is a tale that has some very tear-jerking moments. While it was mended later on, this is the first fighting game to ever make me cry from a scene.
Given the series’ ongoing plot, newcomers to the series may want to do some research before diving into Story Mode. While the game does have insight on each character as well as showcasing the events of Dead or Alive 4, it can still leave you very much confused as to what’s going on without knowledge of the previous games.
Dead or Alive 5 Plus is a 2D-perspective fighting game with 3D visuals. As you play through the game, no matter what mode you’re in, you’ll be in an area with a 2D perspective, fighting a single opponent in either single or tag team battles. The game is identical to how you play the console version of Dead or Alive 5, with the improvements and additions made to the Plus version of the game.
There are six sets of Game Modes in DoA5 Plus. The categories of modes are Story, Fight, Training Plus, Touch Fight, Online, and Extras. There is also a set of Options for adjusting the gameplay and a link to the PlayStation Store to be able to buy some of the costume DLC that’s available for purchase. With all of this, there is a lot to be able to do, once you jump into the game and start digging through the different game modes.
Story just has the plot modes, where you can play through each character’s story pertaining to the plot of Dead or Alive 5. This is identical to the console version of the game, where you can jump back and forth between chapters and replay whichever you’d like. Fight is there if you want to set up battles against the CPU, where you can just choose your character and stage and go at it. You can also do Arcade Mode, Time Attack, or Survival Modes in this section.
Training Plus is a pretty robust area where you can learn the rules of the game. This has two training modes, a Tutorial Mode that wasn’t in the console version, and a Combo Challenge Mode. The Tutorial Mode is something to be mentioned for how robust it is. There are nearly 30 different Lesson sets in the Tutorial and is very extensive with teaching you every tiny piece and move type you will want to know as you play through the game. I easily spent an hour just going through a small part of the Tutorial section.
Touch Fight is a mode that is excusive to the Plus version of the game. This allows you to simulate a fight in first-person view. You also use the touch screen to fight, rather than the buttons on the Vita. This lets you fight with ease with taps and swipes to do even the more extensive combos for each character. Finally, Online is where you can go online and fight players over the PlayStation Network. As we mentioned earlier, you can fight against Vita or PS3 players at the same time.
Fighting through each battle is going to be similar to games like Street Fighter x Tekken. All of the moves you do in DoA are physical punches, kicks, throws, and guards. You have two attack buttons and you can perform various combos by linking attacks together. You fight against your opponent until one of you has no health left and the match is over (or they swap with their partner in the case of a tag team battle). With the inclusion of power hits, technical recoveries and catching attacks, the system can get fairly technical at times.
There are 24 total characters you can play as, with 2 new to DoA5, and some guest characters from the Ninja Gaiden and Virtua Fighter games. Each character has several costumes as well, whether they can be unlocked or bought as Downloadable Content.
The difficulty is also something to mention. The Story Mode doesn’t have difficulty settings you can toggle to make it easier or harder. The game starts out painfully easy with you not even having to guard to fly through the fights. As you get through each chapter, the game slowly gets more difficult until the finale, where you’ll constantly be using guards, throws, and some of the technical moves to even get through a single fight. It’s a game that’s not hard like BlazBlue, but definitely makes sure you actually learn the system before you can clear Story Mode.
With all of the different game modes, there is no shortage of length here. The story of the game is also fairly lengthy for a fighting game of this type, spanning about 6 hours if you don’t skip scenes. Throwing in the tutorial and other modes, it should take you at least 8 hours to try everything at least once.
Controlling Dead or Alive 5 Plus isn’t going to be a painful experience, given the touch control options on the Vita. While you do have the option of using the touch screen in some gameplay modes, you can go through the Story Mode with only using the buttons on the system. Touch Controls are mostly just used for the Touch Battle mode.
Moving your character around the battle arena is done with the Left Analog Stick. The D-Pad is also used for movements like side-steps or combination attacks. Your main attack commands will be from the face buttons, usually in combination with a direction with the Left Analog. Triangle is used for punches and Circle is used for kicks. Square is used for guarding, and X is used for when you wish to initiate a throw.
All in all, the controls aren’t hard to use, though some of the more extensive and technical combination attacks are a pain to learn if you’re not used to playing fighting games. There were many tutorial lessons I struggled with from the input commands and angles of the Analog Stick I had to use.
The presentation is, by far, the biggest praise for this game. Not only did this game bring the entire console experience to the handheld world, but it brought visuals with it. First of all, the scenes for Story Mode are taken straight from the PlayStation 3 version of the game, offering flawless visuals and smooth playing of those scenes.
The other part that is worth mentioning is how the in-game engine looks. While the Vita version doesn’t look exactly like the PS3 version, it’s pretty hard to spot the inconsistencies in the character models as you play through the game. Taking screenshots will show you that there are some jagged edges here and there, but overall, the game is one of the best-looking fighters in the handheld world.
The game plays in an exceptional manner as well. None of the load times last more than a few seconds, and I experienced no lag or slowdown in any battle, be it online or in Story Mode. This version of the game was optimized very well for the Vita and the developers should be applauded for the job they did at bringing DoA5 to the handheld market.