Game Review: Dead Or Alive 5 Plus (PS Vita)

Dead Or Alive 5 PS Vita

Fighting games are no rarity on the PS Vita. There is Street Fighter X Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Arcana Heart 3, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Guilty Gear XX and a number of games from the PSP era, and that list is far from complete. So, do we REALLY need another fighting game on Vita? When talking about Dead Or Alive 5 Plus, the answer is a definitive ‘YES’.

Dead or Alive (DoA) 5 is the fifth major installment in the DoA series, which until now consists of DoA 5 Plus, Ultimate, Last Round, and the Free to Play Ultimate Core Fighters. The original game was released in 2012, while DoA 5 Last Round was published in 2015. DoA 5 Plus is an enhanced version of the base game, especially for PS Vita.

The character roster of a fighting game is one of the major points of attention for any serious player, and DoA5 does not disappoint there. There are 19 characters recurring from previous entries in the series, two new characters (Rig and Mila), and three characters have crossed over from Virtua Fighter: Akira Yuki, Sarah Bryant and Pai Chan. Each character has both Japanese and English voices, and of course they all have their own style of play, control scheme, and special moves.

The game has four major modes of play. One would expect the Story mode to be the main focus of the game, but the options ‘Fight’, ‘Online’ and ‘Extras’ hide many sub-choices that are definitely worth checking. While Story Mode is prominently placed as the first option, it is actually advisable to start with the Tutorial, which is extensive. It starts off simple enough, with basic options like moving, punching etc, but complexity quickly escalates to the nearly impossible. If you master all the Tutorials, you are already on your way to call yourself a DoA Expert.

The Storyline of DoA 5 is a long series of fights and cut scenes, that tells two stories. The bulk follows fighters preparing for and participating in the Dead or Alive tournament. In parallel, we follow the chase of an illusive Alpha-152. While entertaining, the story won’t win any prizes. Whenever two or more people meet, they always end up arguing and without exception this will lead to a fight. Fortunately, these cut scenes are skippable and even though skipping a scene will void one of the trophies that can be won in the game, this is a small price to pay. The complete story consists of 71 episodes (or fights), which will take you several hours to complete, especially if you decide to bite the bullet and not skip the scenes.

While at first the Story appears to take the bulk of the game, it’s actually only a small portion of the game. The game sports a lot of different fighting modes, both online and offline. In ‘Versus’ you play 1-on-1 or tag-team matches, Arcade sets you up of a series of eight fights, and lets you choose one of eight difficulty levels, ranging from Rookie to Legend. Time Attack is similar to Arcade, but with a limited amount of time to clear the entire set of enemies, while ‘Survivor’ sets you up against increasing numbers of enemies, up to 100, which you must ALL win to win the mode. Tricky point is, that each fight will only let you recuperate 50% of your health.

Of course the Online matches are where many will spend most of their time, and it is good to see that this works very well on the Vita. Even at the time of writing (mid 2015), it wasn’t very hard to start an online match. Again, there are different modes, including Versus, and Ranked modes.

The fights itself are well executed, and when you land a hit, the response is very solid. Early on in the Story line and on lower levels in other modes, you can usually get away with simple button-bashing, but as the difficulty is increased, you are forced to start fighting smarter, using blocks, combos and better timing.

Graphically, DoA5 is a marvel on Vita. The console versions look very good, and much attention has been spent on details and environments, and it’s good to see that Tecmo Koei has been able to keep most of these details intact. The character models are very detailed, as are the costumes. During the fights, the game runs at an incredible 60fps without a single framedrop, which makes gameplay extremely smooth.

DoA is well known for its special focus on gravity-defying bossoms of the lady-fighters, and DoA5 is no exception. Even on ‘natural’ setting, the girls (who invariably have D+ size breasts) seem to have wiggly breasts that will make you seasick if you stare at them long enough. And of course most of the costumes are designed to show off as much of these ‘assets’ as possible, with even more revealing costumes available as paid DLC. If that isn’t enough, there is even an ‘OMG’ mode, especially for the Vita version, which makes the wobbly breasts even more instable.

This ‘OMG’ mode is only unlockable by playing a new Vita-only game mode, called ‘touch’, which is literally a game-changer. While all of the fights in DoA5 (and most other fighters) are viewed from the side, the Touch mode changes this to a First Person perspective, which is quite revolutionary, especially when the Vita is turned sideways. You suddenly face your opponent head-on, and fight him/her by tapping or swiping the screen. While this mode lacks most complexity of regular fights, it’s quite satisfying to repeatedly punch him/her in the face, and then send him/her flying with an upward swipe.

DoA 5 has 46 Trophies, and while the bulk is easy to achieve, getting the platinum will keep you busy for a long time, and require a lot of skill. Almost every mode has its own trophy, and even side-activities like taking a photo, recording and playback of your fight, entering spectator mode or starting the tutorial will award you a trophy.

DoA 5 is brimming with content and options, and somehow Tecmo Koei have managed to cram every game mode appearing on the console into this Vita version, without sacrificing too much on details. The game runs very smoothly with its 60fps, and the addition of the touch fight mode is very nice. When going head to head, the Vita version more than holds its own against its Console brother, even surpasses it. For fighter fans, this is a definite must-buy, and even for those that are less fond of the genre, this game is a great example of what the Vita is capable of.

Chris Boers

At A Glance

  • Title: Dead or Alive 5 Plus
  • Publisher: Tecmo Koei
  • Developer: Team Ninja
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download, Game Card
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: Yes
  • Online Multiplayer: Yes
  • Local Multiplayer: No
  • PlayStation TV Compatible: Yes
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 2.530 MB

Vita Player Rating - 09

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  1. I actually reviewed this game for the VitaLounge when it first came out:

    http://thevitalounge.net/2013/04/04/dead-or-alive-5-plus/

    As well as it being copies and pasted on my Amazon.co.uk reviews page.

    It’s a surprisingly great port, although it’s worth mentioning now that this version of the game DOESN’T have the newer characters from DOA5: Ultimate or Last Round (Marie Rose, etc).

    It’s good to hear the game is still being played online. Personally, my connection never seemed to be fast enough for such a game.

    The touch mode is still awesome, the graphics are indeed impressive, and it’s an extremely faithful port which had lots of love and attention from Tecmo.

    However, my main criticism is still that the game has too many opportunities to stun players, and the counters require you to be too precise.

    I really ought to bring this game out again and give it another go. However, I’ve Last Round on the PS3 now, with a superior selection of characters, so it feels kinda outdated. Pity they didn’t add the extra characters as DLC at a later date.

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