Dead or Alive 5 Plus Review: One of the Vita’s Best Ports
Dead or Alive 5 Plus
Team Ninja/Tecmo Koei
Dead or Alive 5 Plus is the third game from Team Ninja to make the jump from Playstation 3 to Playstation Vita. The team does their best to give new players and veterans alike incentive to jump in and get the Vita versions of their games, but sometimes they fall a bit short in terms of quality or quantity of content. That said, Dead or Alive is easily their best port; it packs tons of content, limits the number of concessions while adding new features, and retains a high level of quality. The console version of the game has been out since last September. As such, this review will primarily discuss the differences between the two games, the good and bad changes. For more information on the original game, sit tight; a retro-review is on the way.
At a glance, Dead or Alive 5 Plus appears to be a near-perfect translation of its console parent; from the main menu to the gorgeous visuals to the music and glorious sound direction, its all the same. The differences will become apparent to veterans as they dig through the various modes, and there are quite a few. The biggest change concerns the story and training modes. In the original version of the game, the tutorial was integrated into the story mode- each fight had an objective, each one building upon the skills learned previously in the story. Completing these objectives instead of button mashing to victory rewarded the player with new titles. This feature has been removed and replaced by a brand new, in-depth tutorial (more on this below). The story itself is unchanged, only now there are no parameters in the fights other than “just win”. For some, the added objectives in the original game made the story mode more engaging. Others just want to blaze through the fights and get to the beautiful cutscenes. It all comes down to personal preference.
Tutorial. The biggest and most rewarding additions to the game are the tutorial mode and revamped training options. Originally, players had access to a training mode where they could practice combos, defending, special moves, and select from a slew of options to create specific situations. This is all still here under the heading “Free Training”. The option for command training- walkthroughs for player’s moves- has been made into its own, separate mode. A new, similar mode called “Combo Challenge” walks players through useful and difficult combos for each character. Final, there is the tutorial. The tutorial includes nearly 200 lessons about 34 different elements of the game, from the basic strike-throw-hold triangle, to guards and guard-breaks, to tech rolls, to cliffhangers. The tutorial even gets as deep as to explain how to handle combos that force your player to get up after hitting the ground. As a casual veteran and fan of the series, there were many elements of the tutorial that were new to me and improved my play. Experienced veterans looking to collect their titles should have no problems breezing through it, though it is a bit on the long side and not as entertaining as the story-mode-integrated tutorial was. Newcomers that are serious about getting into the game will absolutely adore this in-depth look at how technical this fighter really is.
Fight Modes. Dead or Alive 5 Plus‘ available single-player fight modes have the power to make or break this port for many. The bad news: there are no tag battles outside of the three or four contained within story mode. For whatever reason, tag battles are not an option within any of the single player modes. That said, those modes are otherwise perfectly intact; versus, arcade, time attack, and survival are all present and accounted for. Those looking to grind and earn titles will find that 5+ will quench their thirst. The only other omission here is the “Exhibition” mode, which allowed players to play offline versus matches with any character/costume. To make up for this, all characters are unlocked at the onset of the game- Akira, Gen Fu, Pai, Sarah, and even Alpha-152.
Exclusive to the Vita is the “Touch Fight” mode, where players assume a first-person perspective and “touch” their CPU opponent to deal damage. The Vita’s multi-touch capabilities come into play here; holds and throws are performed by two finger tapping and pinching, respectively. While there is some depth in terms of moveset, most CPUs can be beaten by spamming strikes to get critical bursts. Ultimately, this mode is mostly a gimmick, meant for gawking at the detailed character models with the Vita flipped portrait-style. This experience can be supplemented with costume DLC, of course. Would make for a decent, standalone iOS/Android time-waster.
Dead or Alive 5 Plus – Features Trailer
Extras. Some other miscellaneous changes to the game concern cross-save, trophies, and media (music, photos, and videos). First, there is the addition of the movie viewer, where unlocked cutscenes from the story mode can be re-watched. The movie viewer, strangely, seems to be there in place of the PS3 version’s photo Album. Photos taken during the course of gameplay cannot be viewed in-game; players will have to defer to the Vita’s photo application. This is not a deal breaker by any means, just an odd removal of a feature that was in both of the Dead or Alive games that preceded this one. Customizable music is sure to be one of the favorite new features. Players can choose to have music vary by stage or by character. If the latter is chosen, players can attach their favorite songs from the entire catalog to their favorite characters. Finally, cross-saves allow players to shuffle saves between their PS3 and Vita version of the game. This feature is a bit more limited here than in other games; only costumes and titles are transferred. Story mode progress, stats, and trophies are all separate. In the case of the latter, many trophies are different to reflect all of the changes and additions of modes.
Multiplayer. Rounding things out is the online multiplayer suite. Under this menu, players will find that they can play via Infrastructure or Ad Hoc, the latter being for local multiplayer with other Vita players only. Both the unranked “Simple” matches and ranked matches are available in Dead or Alive 5 Plus, and they can be played against Vita or PS3 players. What is missing are the fighter list (the ability to tag rival players and have rematches later) and the ability to create lobbies and customize the rules. It their place is an online dojo, where players can practice with friends. For this mode and simple matches, Vita users have the ability to send game invites to other Vita players on their friend list… but not to PS3 friends. What? For whatever reason, cross-platform play only works for random matches. Game invites sent to PS3 players will not work. Whether this is just a major screw-up or an intentional move to combat boosting, it is sure to disappoint players. It disappointed us. The only work-around that we could throw together was to set uncommon match parameters on both ends (i.e. four rounds instead of two), then search. This worked without fail, but it is not an ideal solution. Disappointment aside, the multiplayer gameplay is absolutely fantastic, just as it was on the PS3. Load times beyond the first connection are minimal, and gameplay is silky smooth. Lag was not an issue for us at all. And if it was, well, there is an option to practice with lag in Free Training.
Dead or Alive 5 is one of our favorite fighting games of this generation, and this port does nothing to change that. Despite some odd changes and disappointing omissions, this game is still great and the addition of several modes and features justifies the purchase for veterans who want to keep Kasumi with them at all times. Newcomers looking for the best fighting game on the Vita have a lot to choose from, with the likes of Street Fighter, Playstation All-Stars, and Mortal Kombat already present on the platform. Dead or Alive 5 Plus makes its case rather well, posing the best entry-level modes to get players to competence in no time and the best variety of single-player modes to keep them coming back.