The Dead or Alive series has been around since 1996 and has graced almost every console known to man, including both handhelds and big box consoles alike. The current developers, Team Ninja, are known for porting their titles from the big screens of the PS3 and Xbox down to the smaller screens of the 3DS and PS Vita – one need only look at Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus to see two of their PS Vita ports. Dead or Alive 5 was released back in September for both of the big box consoles and Team Ninja has just released their ported PS Vita version with a few new bells and whistles. Was it a successful port, or should it have been left in dry dock? Let’s find out.
Protip: If you have played DOA5 on the PS3 you’ll probably want to update the game on the PS3 and upload your game save via the new in-game option. You can then download the data from the in-game menu on the PS Vita and this will allow you to carry your progress across both platforms. Both versions also share the same trophy set so if you have unlocked a trophy on the PS3, it will already be on your list for the PS Vita. I posted an image below to show you what I mean.
Dead or Alive 5+ is set two years after the events of Dead or Alive 4 and the destruction of the DOATEC corporation’s TriTower headquarters. Helena Douglas has undertaken the task of rebuilding DOATEC but wants to use its technology for peaceful ends. Helena dissolved DOATEC’s Biotechnology Division, stopped the Military Division’s biological weapons projects Alpha, Epsilon and Omega, fired all members of Victor Donovan’s faction, and announced that she intends to hold the Dead or Alive Tournament 5 (DOA5), hosted by the American DJ character Zack.
The story is told in a non-linear fashion that can be very confusing. I’m still not sure why I fought most of the people I fought, but losing did give me the instant option to retry, so that was good. The cutscenes and chapters jump around from time frame to time frame like a Delorean with a flux capacitor. Once you’ve unlocked the cutscenes you’ll be able to re-watch them from the main menu, but you’ll need a cheat sheet or a notebook if you want to follow the storyline.
There are seventy one total chapters in the story and included in there somewhere are several rounds of the actual DOA5 tournament. Turns out I won the thing, but I thought I was still in the quarter-finals when in actuality I was IN the finals. Each character has their own chapter, and you’ll learn a little back story within their chapter. Don’t expect to really understand what’s going on, just understand that losing is not an option as you must win every battle, or you will be destined to repeat it until you do. This is first and foremost a fighting game and the story is really just an introduction to each character.
If you are new to this series, there’s a tutorial that gives you thirty four specific areas and/or types of combat to learn. You can plan on spending quite a bit of time there if you want to try to clear all of the tutorials as each area has several sub-areas within it. The story is mainly there to introduce you to, not only the characters, but the fighting style of each character. If you play all the way through the story, you should have a general idea of which characters you feel will best suit your style of game play. That’s not a bad thing, as their are twenty four total characters to choose from, and each has their own style or technique of fighting.
Once you have decided on which characters you feel you would like to improve with, it’s time to jump into Training Plus. This mode is key to winning at every level, as it will help you hone your skills starting from the basics, on up to the hard to achieve combos. Each character has their own set of moves button combos are required to initiate those moves. As a self proclaimed button masher, I kept getting my butt handed to me by the AI and online opponents. It was only after spending time in Command Training was I able to start pulling off combos on a regular basis and the AI started falling by the wayside. Online players, not so much. Each character can be used individually in Command Training, Free Training and the Combo Challenge, so be sure to use the Training Plus area to give yourself a fighting chance.
For more practice, and an even better challenge, you can jump into one of four offline types of battles. You can go head-to-head against any of the characters in Versus mode. Arcade mode will have you facing off against ten of the characters as controlled by the CPU. Time Attack will also have you facing off against ten characters, but will keep track of your total time spent fighting each character, and then add it altogether at the end. Last but not least is Survival mode. This is probably the most challenging of the four modes, as not only are there endless opponents, but your health bar doesn’t fully regenerate each time a new opponent appears. Each mode has its own leaderboard and your high scores from Time Attack and Survival can be uploaded to Global high score boards so you can see how you rank against the world.
Unique to the PS Vita is a mode called Touch Fighting. This will place you in a battle in first person mode where you touch and swipe the screen in order to attack your opponent. You can turn your Vita sideways to play or just play in the standard way, but both ways still felt like a gimmick that was forced upon the developer. There is a trophy for touching the screen one thousand times in this mode (that also unlocks a special OMG Breast Mode), but other than that, there’s no real reason to play the game this way. You can use DLC costumes for your opponents in touch mode, and they will be larger on the screen when turned sideways, so that’s a plus if you want some eye candy.
The Vita also got a revamped Move Info screen and the ability to assign music to each character individually. Throw in the new tutorial mode and I think the Vita received the version that the PS3 needed. The game looks and sounds incredible on the smaller platform, and that’s not just a testament to the handheld’s power, but also a testament to Team Ninja’s ability to create a quality title.
With the latest patch for the PS3 version of DOA5 you’ll be able to go head-to-head cross-platform. This means that finding an online opponent should be quick and simple. You can jump into a quick unranked match, invite a friend to practice in your online dojo, or try your skills in a ranked online match with no limitations as to which platform your friend or others are playing on.