Dead or Alive 5 gets an update with the release of Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, an expanded version of the original DOA5 which incorporates features from the PlayStation Vita release Dead or Alive Plus, as well as some rather nifty new inclusions.
When a beat ‘em up gets revamped a year on from the original, the question is often raised on whether or not the extras justify purchasing what is in essence the same game all over again. In this case, there may very well be just enough of the new balanced with the not-so-new to make it a considered purchase with developer Team Ninja partnering up with Sega AM2 for another round in the DOA5 arena.
Developer: Team Ninja (Partnership with Sega AM2)
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Platform: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3, Arcade
Players: Single, Multi-Player
Genre: Beat ‘Em Up
Release: (AU) September 26th 2013, (EU) September 6th 2013, (JP) September 5th 2013, (NA) September 3rd 2013
DOA5 was and still is one of the best fighters out there on the market, even with a year of street cred under its belt. With DOA5 Ultimate, you not only get all the gorgeous environments and fighters, but also the benefits previously only afforded to PlayStation Vita brawlers. The training mode from Dead or Alive 5 Plus: Tutorial has been added, along with the Combo Challenge where players can practice moves, combos, and strategies broken down in either lessons or mission format. For a novice fighter like me, it helps to convert players from a button-masher to something a little more stylish and with a tad more finesse.
Existing bugs that have been found or complained about by the DOA5 community has also been ironed out. Granted, these issues could be removed via a content patch yet there’s something particularly satisfying to know that they disc based version of DOA5 Ultimate is free of such hair-raising concerns.
Power Blow from DOA5 is now paired with an all-new game play feature known as Power Launcher. For those not familiar, Power Blow is a finisher style move which each player can take advantage of once per round when a character’s health dips below the 50% threshold. Power Launcher works similarly, except as the name implies launches opponents high up into the air where skilled fighters can combo away, air juggling for maximum damage. It’s not easy to pull off but provides advanced DOA5 players something new to work towards. Characters from the existing DOA5 roster have been tweaked to include new devastating combos not previously available elsewhere.
Online Tag mode has been reworked with 2-on-2 tag battles now available in online multi-player. These changes were made due to demand for greater competitive gaming between highly-skilled fighters looking for a challenge in the online space. A new Force Out tag-specific attack has also been added, which can ‘lock’ out an opponent for a period of time before being allowed to re-enter the ring. Special tag teams also receive unique tag poses, throws, taunts and appeals to better capture the partnership between friendly tag team combos.
Despite the improvements, I did experience some difficulties pairing up online and minor latency issues. I didn’t feel overly held down from the technical challenges given my level of playing skill but I imagine for a tournament level fighter, the drop off would be enough to send some gamers over the edge. Tecmo Koei is reportedly working on the issues so expect better online performance to come.
Five brand new characters join the fighter roster, bolstering the line-up to 29 playable characters. Momiji from the Ninja Gaiden series, Jacky Bryant from the Virtua Fighter series and Leon, Ein, and Rachel from past DOA titles add new moves and flair as they take the fight to the established rivals.
Asides from the game play, characters are given cosmetic options with all characters receiving new costumes to dress in. Some of these costumes are from previous downloadable content costume packs for the original DOA5. If you happened to purchase DOA5 DLC costumes the first time round, you’ll be able to use the outfits you already own in the new release DOA 5 Ultimate as well. You’ll also be able to unlock more than 230 brand new costumes, unlocked by achieving Grade Points by winning your matches in Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels.
The DOA series has built a reputation for producing some of the sexiest female characters in a fighting series, which the developers appear to be perfectly aware of with costumes ranging from appealing to questionable choices doing the rounds. I personally found it quite amusing and fun to unlock the new extras but some gamers may be less than impressed.
Before you part way with your cash, you may want to download the free-to-play Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate: Core Fighters via Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Store. Core Fighters gives access to four characters and most of the game modes (barring story mode), giving potential newcomers to the series an opportunity to test out the game play mechanics before committing to a purchase.
Yes, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is a rehash of the original DOA5 but a really good one at that. If you didn’t pick up the game the first time around, it’s really tough to look past Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate after Team Ninja have engineered it that much closer to perfection than ever before. It’s a little harder to say the same for those that already own DOA5, unless of course you’re a massive fan of beat ‘em up or just wants the most comprehensive version out there. Give Dead or Alive 5: Core Fighters a go before you make up your mind.
8.0 – Great. An enjoyable experience, fans and newcomers of the genre will be entertained. Any noticeable flaws are largely outweighed by the positives.