Review: Dead or Alive 5+ (PSV)

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Title: Dead or Alive 5+
Format: PlayStation Network Download (2628 MB) / Game Card
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Developer: Team Ninja
Price: $39.99 (PSN) / $39.99 (Game Card)
ESRB Rating: M
Dead or Alive 5+ is the PlayStation Vita version of Dead or Alive 5, previously released for PS3 and Xbox 360.

Ever since its debut just over one year ago, the PlayStation Vita has been subjected to comparison of its console counterpart.  Aside from being dubbed ‘the most powerful handheld in the world’ the Vita can’t escape the ‘portable PS3‘ moniker or the ‘console in your hands’ descriptor.  Publishers, developers, and industry personnel are not looking to separate the two either, with many titles being released for both platforms and a focus put on cross-save features.

I have however noticed that such comparisons are stated with a bit of hesitation.  It is common to hear ‘it looks almost like the PS3 version’ or my personal favorite, ‘certain features have obviously been taken out’.  Dead or Alive 5+ looks to close this gap between handheld and home console by offering the stunning visuals, extended features, and perfected gameplay that we’ve come to expect from the PS3; all the while adding in a few extras.

DOA5 - 3

Gameplay:
If you’re familiar with fighters and/or the Dead or Alive franchise, you know that these games are comparatively deeper than others in the genre.  I delved into this one head first by checking out the 34 section tutorial, each with more than a few moves to learn, offering hundreds of lessons to master.  It can be a little overwhelming at first, but it is quickly realized that this game will need time and devotion to be thoroughly enjoyed.  There is so much terminology to consider with high, low, and mid holds, combo throws and counter strikes all coming into play at high levels of competition.

One thing in particular that impressed me about Dead or Alive 5+ was the character diversity.  There are wrestlers that focus on holds, ninjas and karate masters that are super quick, and even a drunken fighter.  In many fighting games, the same 3-button input will represent a special move for more than half of the character cast.  This is definitely not the case here, as Team Ninja has created a fighting game with a focus on longevity that has been rare this generation.

The story mode in Dead or Alive 5+ starts off as a convoluted mess of intertwining character storylines but it clears up as you push forward.  We get a little snapshot of what each character was doing leading up to the 5th Dead or Alive tournament.  There is some humor, a few emotional parts, and everything ends up tying together very nicely.  With more than 70 chapters and over 90 cutscenes, the story mode is more than a few-hour affair.  If nothing else, it serves to familiarize the player with the DOA universe and add dynamic character traits to the otherwise bland roster.

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And now, the question you’ve all been waiting for me to answer:   Emrah, how has Team Ninja incorporated touch-screen and gyroscope capabilities?  Even though a DOA fan is probably a core gamer that gives no audience to gimmicky features, I believe that this game has nailed it.  Touch fight is a feature of Dead or Alive 5+ that is completely separate from the rest of the game.  It pits you against an AI opponent in first-person view and allows you to use the Vita both vertically and horizontally.  All fight mechanics are mapped to tapping and swiping and it can be a fun novelty in a mini-game type of way.

Visuals:
With Dead or Alive 5+, the franchise maintains its place at the top when it comes to visual fidelity in the fighting genre and translates that beauty to the small screen.  But what about the boob physics?  They are in full effect for all of you e-pervs out there.  Black market smartphone apps are no longer the only form of pornography in the mobile space.  These ladies barely have to take a breath for their breasts to bounce uncontrollably.

Seriously though, I’ve yet to experience a Vita game with graphics that mirror its console version so closely, especially in this genre.  Mortal Kombat on the Vita lacked character detail, resulting in some downright ugly visuals.  In DOA 5+, you can fight anywhere from an industrial setting to a beautiful island paradise to a silly circus.  Each of these arenas are complete with appropriate lighting and the characters themselves never exhibit the slightest hiccup.

DOA5 - 2

Audio:
There is a healthy selection of background music with a mixture of flowery Japanese dojo music and ass-kickin’ rock and roll.  You can assign any of the tracks to any character and the assigned song will play when using that character.

The attacks in the game also represent a good portion of the soundtrack.  Each kick, punch, throw, and hold come complete with the appropriate karate-action-movie sound effect.  The announcer has that slightly obnoxious voice that we’ve come to expect from a fighter, but it is satisfying to hear him yell ‘K.O.’ at the end of a heated battle.

Online/Multiplayer:
The online multiplayer in the game is very simple.  You can either play a casual or ranked match with ranked matches obviously counting towards your overall win/loss record.  You can choose to fight players in your region or anywhere and I did not experience any lag, slow down, or frame skips.  Online, the game plays impressively close to the offline experience.

Dead or Alive 5+ also supports ad hoc multiplayer and cross-save.

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Conclusion:
Dead or Alive 5+ is not only a beautiful reflection of Dead or Alive 5 on console, but it is an overall mechanically sound fighter with deep combos, precision timing, and entertaining gameplay.  It does not have the gory attraction of Mortal Kombat or the super hero following that Injustice:  Gods Among Us will no doubt accrue.  It does not have the projectile or super move appeal of Street Fighter either.  It is a bare-knuckle brawler with virtually no magic or nonsense.  A little bit of ninja mysticism is sprinkled on this close quarters fighter, resulting in intense matchups requiring split-second reflexes.  If any of you fight fans out there are looking for something that will truly test your skills on the go, Dead or Alive 5+ is the game for you.

Score:
8.5

***All screenshots used in this review were taken using the PlayStation Vita’s built-in screen screen capture feature***

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