Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate Review (PS3)
Publisher Tecmo Koei and developer Team Ninja have already released two versions of Dead or Alive 5. While consoles got the first one with a straight up Dead or Alive 5 release, the PS Vita was given a rehashed version with new modes, a shared trophy list with the PS3, some minor fixes, and cross platform play in Dead or Alive 5 Plus. Now along comes Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate which attempts to take the best of both worlds and release it in a couple of different entry formats.
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate: Core Fighters is a free-to-play core game with only a handful of fighters and no trophy support but you have the ability to purchase add-on fighters at four bucks a pop. You’ll get access to all of the different modes of the game, with the exception of story mode which runs you another $14.99 USD. If you have played either version of Dead or Alive 5 before, the story is the same, convoluted and confusing mess that both Daniel Bischoff and myself covered in our previous DOA5 reviews. Unlocked titles, costumes, and story mode progress is carried over from Dead or Alive 5 on the PS3 though, so that’s a definite plus.
You can buy the full game digitally for $39.99 USD and that will unlock the trophies for you but so will buying the story mode. If you know you’ll only want to use a few of the fighters you could download the core version for free that includes Kasumi, Ayane, Ryu and Hayate and then purchase new characters which, in turn, will also unlock the trophies. I’m not sure if purchasing costumes will unlock the trophies but I will edit this review if/when I get an answer back from the publisher. DOA5U: Core Fighters can compete against players with the retail version in all of the different game modes so there isn’t any real restrictions, other than limited fighters, when deciding which version fits your needs or budget.
Besides fixing known bugs, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate adds new training modes that were added to the PS Vita version Dead or Alive 5 Plus. The Tutorial is a mode designed to teach you key moves and strategies and can teach you fighter specific strategies to improve your overall techniques. There are forty two separate areas of learning, each with their own subsets of lessons, that can help you be a better fighter. The Combo Challenge is a special training mode designed to teach and allow you to practice fighter specific combos. This is a very useful area for honing your skills with a specific fighter and can give you an edge when playing online. A new gameplay feature, called the Power Launcher and working similar to the Power Blow of DOA5 (that can be used only once per round when the player’s fighter’s health falls below 50%), launches opponents high into the air, allowing more advanced players to follow up with a combo. Returning characters also gain new combos that make them more effective, if you know how to use them.
Some major changes were made to the Tag team gameplay, which now features two-on-two tag battles in online multiplayer. Several of them make the new tag team mode better for competitive play by veteran players, including a restriction to the amount of health that can be recovered by a tagged out fighter. A new tag team specific attack, called the Force Out, knocks the opponent’s current fighter out of the ring and limits the opponent to the other tag partner for a period of time. The game also features many new tag poses and tag throws unique for various tag teams (depending on the characters that were chosen for the team), as well as new taunts. Tag combos and tag juggling add some pretty useful attacks to your stable of fighters, so be sure to figure out what works best if you want to rule the online tag battle world. A new system of Character Points can give you an idea of how good (or in my case how bad) your opponents actually are. You can also see how you and your opponents stack up against players around the world by checking out the leaderboard.
Graphically speaking, this is a damn good looking game. It looked great before, and that was never a complaint, but it’s easy to forget how good a game looked originally. Even on the Vita it looked great, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it still looks great on the PS3. The DOA series has always focused on sex appeal with busty models and breast animations that can be adjusted to your liking. You can set these animations to be turned off, a natural look, a DOA look, or the always popular OMG setting. Unlockable and downloadable costumes can make these animations stand out a bit more, it just depends on how much jiggle you want to see when your fighter is kicking some butt.
The audio for the game is OK. It’s not as crisp as I would like, but at least now you can edit the music for the different fighters on your console. While you can’t use custom music off of your hard drive, there is a pretty substantial list of tunes to choose from in-game. Tracks from previous DOA games are included, so for you long time fans of the series, you just might find something from years gone by that you may have forgotten about. The list of songs is long and there should be something for everyone on there.
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate takes a previously released title back to the gym, worked out some known kinks in its system, adds in some new flavors of game play, pushes the total roster to 29 fighters, takes the best parts from the PS Vita version, and repackages it in a way that should draw in new fans, all the while pleasing long time fans of the series. The free-to-play core model introduces this style of fighting game to a wider audience of gamers that might not be interested otherwise, and that’s always a good thing. Whether or not it’s worth $39.99 for some new characters and gameplay depends on you and how much cash you have in your wallet.