I love fighting games. From games like Mortal Kombat to Soulcalibur, I just love kicking people’s ass in an all out brawl. With all of the best fighting games released this generation being ported over to Sony’s new handheld, I’ve grown especially fond of fighting on the go. From the packed Mortal Kombat reboot to the fast paced Marvel vs Capcom 3, the Vita proves to be a nice system for fighting games and Dead or Alive 5+ only proves that further.
Right from the get go, it is clear that Dead or Alive 5+ is a near perfect port of the console versions. Very little changes were made to differentiate the portable version from the console version. While this can be looked down at, it’s actually one of the game’s best feats. DOA5+ supports cross save and cross play, meaning Vita owners can face off against PS3 players and vice versa. The game also looks just as good as console versions, and plays incredibly smooth, which is essential for fighting games. Stages are still packed with life, character animations are as smooth as ever and the game’s flashy sequences look gorgeous on the Vita’s screen. Like the console version, the game is easy to pick up and play on the Vita. Newcomers and hardcore players alike are sure to be able to pick up the game and manage to make it through without much of a problem.
If you aren’t looking to just play DOA5 on the go and own the game on the console, there isn’t much here to sell you on a second copy of the game. The story mode remains intact and is rather lackluster in terms of storytelling and is a rather jumbled, confusing mess for the most part. Most of the game’s other modes also remain intact as well, with some minor additions featured in the Vita version. One of these modes is a first person, touch screen mode. DOA5+ isn’t the first fighting game to incorporate a touch screen system. Marvel vs Capcom 3 tried it as well, but it turned out unbalanced and utterly boring. While DOA5+ adds some strategic elements with this mode, it still feels overwhelmingly unbalanced. Simply tapping the screen could net players a win almost instantaneously. Other movements made by pinching and holding the touch screen are also incredibly unresponsive, leading to problematic issues in gameplay. The coolest portion of this mode is easily the fact that it can be played in first person.
As noted, story mode returns and is a disappointment for sure. Also included are the game’s arcade, time attack and survival mode. Arcade mode is your standard arcade ladder, although there are no side stories for each character – something common in fighting games. That is also a rather disappointing factor, seeing as some of the characters in the game are interesting enough to tell their own tale. And even the guest characters from Virtua Fighter and Hayabusa would be nice to see tell their own tale. Time Attack is essentially Arcade Mode, but focused on getting through the ladder with a better time. Survival Mode is my personal favorite of the lot, pitting players against waves of fighters to be fought in one sitting. Depending on the difficulty, more fighters are thrown into the mix, which actually proves to be a tough challenge that is both rewarding and a blast to play.
For more hardcore players (and even newcomers potentially), tutorial modes and a deep training mode allow for more combos to be learned on the fly and even teach players how to incorporate these moves in real-gameplay scenarios. After running through some of these tutorials and some hours in training, I managed to incorporate several techniques into my story mode playthrough and even take it online to win some matches. Team Ninja did a superb job at teaching players all they need to know in playing DOA5. Another small addition to the Vita version of the game is the ability to change the game’s music. Nothing too drastic, it’s a nice way to give player’s customization options so they don’t get bored of hearing the same sound over and over.
The game is also littered with collectibles, some neat and some forgettable. A ton of costumes are included with DOA5+, unlocked through various methods for each character. Costumes look pretty awesome for the most part, and even some risque costumes for fans of the game’s oversexualized female characters. Replays and fights can be saved to the system to be viewed later, which is something most fighting fans would be happy to have. However, unfortunately, these cannot be shared – something seen in the console versions. Movies seen in the game’s story mode can also be viewed again, for players who want to relive the many cinematics. Titles can be unlocked to showcase player’s skill, and the fight record lays down those skills perfectly with records and the such.
The game also incorporates online player, as stated earlier, that is indeed cross play. Setting up games are a breeze, and jumping into global games isn’t too much of a problem. However, once some limitations are made to find local games or of a certain skill level, the game’s servers have a hard time getting players into a game quickly. This then amps up the waiting time and potentially closes up the search overall. Still, playing against your friends and players across the globe shouldn’t provide too much of a problem.
Unfortunately, that’s where the additions and changes end. Not much was done to make Dead or Alive 5+ feel like an upgraded game from the original. To compare, the Mortal Kombat reboot featured an additional Challenge Tower and exclusive unlockables only attainable in the PlayStation Vita version of the game. What is seen in DOA5+ is what was seen in DOA5 with some minor gimmicky additions. Still, fans of the series and DOA5 in particular, they’d be doing themselves a favor in picking up this solid port. While there isn’t much new here, what’s included is surely enough to keep players coming back. If you’re looking to play DOA5 on the go and expect nothing more, then this is an easy recommendation.
[Note: A free copy of Dead or Alive 5 Plus was provided for review by Tecmo Koei]