Fighting games always make me feel like an old man. Not because I’m outclassed online more often than not, although that’s true, but because it reminds me of starting out with the original Street Fighter arcade game and the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat. There have been countless iterations on various franchises since those salad days, and I am always surprised by just how great the Dead or Alive series is. As much as I want to hate it for the rampant sexism, Dead or Alive 5 Plus finally convinced me that the Vita could deliver an amazing rich fighter both online and off, boob physics or not.
Dead or Alive 5 Plus is a port of the console game released last year, which is always reason to be nervous. Instead of scaling back on the graphics, framerate or content, DoA 5 Plus manages to actually keep the fidelity and content, including Facebook integration, video capture and replay, and online training, while adding in a few new features that helped make the game feel worth playing through again.
At its core, DoA 5 is a 3D fighter in the vein of the more recognized Tekken series. However, it is the tripartite system that sets DoA apart. The strike/hold/throw system is still in effect here, making the game a much more intellectual exercise, forcing players to think like a chess player in order to bait and trap the opponent. Nothing is more satisfying that outthinking an opponent and luring them into a trap in order to take control of the game. It is the virtual representation of the rope-a-dope strategy. Damage and ease of Counter Holds has been significantly decreased this time around, and rightfully so, and the new ability to stun an opponent totally, preventing counters by them, has leveled the playing field while still rewarding skilled players.
DoA 5 Plus offers some of the most responsive gameplay in a fighter, especially given the smaller screen and slightly different control scheme of the Vita. It remains incredibly intuitive, and the tiered story line acts as a means of training for those that don’t want to access the online and offline training sessions. The challenges stay on a constant upwards gradient, never outclassing you, but never giving a free pass. For those that want to engage online, the matchmaking is seamless, and lag is seldom an issue.
What most surprised me is the scaling back of sex in the series. For a long time it has defined itself by the beach volleyball spinoffs and the ability to adjust the jiggle in women’s breasts. While the oversized chests are still a character, there is much less focus on it. DoA 5 Plus is solely about the combat and challenge, which is a refreshing point for me. In order to be a serious contender against the Street Fighters and Tekken’s of the world, there needed to be a focus on the mechanics, not the set dressing. And thank the lord they finally did it. The Vita version stands up with the console version as the best entry into the Dead or Alive franchise, and while some Vita features, like the touch screen combat, are better left ignored, over all DoA 5 Plus is a masterpiece, and a must-play for any fighting fans.
- Incredibly tight and satisfying combat
- Gorgeous character graphics and animations (boobs notwithstanding)
- Reams of content offers versatility and replay value
- Still incredibly sexist
- Backgrounds suffer from lack of detail
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