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The Dead or Alive games have never been a particular favorite of mine. I always preferred Tekken and have never really played much Dead or Alive. Dead or Alive 5 is the first game in the series that I have ever played all the way through.

Gameplay:

Dead or Alive’s control scheme is a little different to most fighting games. Two of the buttons are what you use to primarily attack with, these would be the kick and punch button. Unlike most fighting games there is a dedicated throw button in the game. The last main button is used for blocking, when this is pressed at the same time as a direction button to form a counter. A successful counter will need to be the same height as an opponent’s attack.

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The story for Dead or Alive 5 can be a little tricky to understand at first. This is partly due to no recap of the previous four games. The game also doesn’t seem introduce the characters well to newcomers. The games story is quite similar in structure to that of the new Mortal Kombat. It is one long story split up into short stories for each character in the game. I personally did find myself getting a little lost with the story due to my inexperience with the series. The game could have made more of an effort to help those who don’t know who these characters are. There is a screen that doesn’t go into much detail about the character but does provide some back story to each character. There are two main threads of the story: One based on the tournament which is not particularly interesting and only there to move the plot along and the other is about Kasumi and her search for her clone, Alpha-152.

The game contains quite a few other modes; versus for a quick one vs one match, arcade were you fight eight matches though once you beat that you are not treated with an ending for that character, time attack which is pretty self-explanatory and survival where you must survive against a series of opponents. I quite like the survival in this game as it has no loading what so ever. Each of these modes has eight difficulty settings for you to try your hand at and beat.

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On top of all those modes, the game also has a variety of practice modes. Free training is your classic practice mode. Command training lets you go through every single move a character has, most characters have around a hundred moves so if you plan to do them all at once then will take you quite a while, especially if you want to complete it for every character. Once you’re finished with completing all of them you can try your hand at combo training. It can be quite challenging at times so worth a try if you want to master your character. Lastly there is tutorial which is there to teach all the little intricacies of Dead or Alive. Tutorial mode is personally my favorite of them as I learned the most about playing the game from here. It could take a while to go through all of them but I recommend playing at least part of it to understand how to play the game.

Now for the last single player mode added just for the Vita, Touch Fight. It can be played portrait or landscape, the Vita feels a little bulky when holding it sideways. I feel like touch fight was something added just for a bullet point on the back of the box. Sure it is amusing but after playing it once, it really doesn’t feel like it needs to be played again. The problem with it is that there is no need to really learn how to play it, all you have to do is swipe away at the screen and you will most likely win. It is perfect for someone who doesn’t play fighting games but not something that you really need to play more than once. It feels like an experiment and I wouldn’t be surprised if that mode was released on its own for mobiles sometime in the future.

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One feature that seems to be completely missing in the game is being able to play tag teams; it makes an appearance in the story but other than that it can’t be played anywhere else in the game which is a shame.

Graphics:

Dead or Alive 5 is truly a beautiful game on the Vita. The game has been paired back a little bit compared to the console version but not by much. The only other “realistic” looking fighting game on the Vita is Mortal Kombat and it blows that out the water. The frame rate of the game is smooth, and I haven’t seen it drop. All of the cutscenes are pre-recorded from the console version so they look prettier than in-game graphics. Stages in the game are for the most part interactive which are oddly tuned down a little for the games story for some reason. It is only in one of the other modes do you get to see how crazy they can get.

Sound/Audio:

Music for the game suits each of the stages in the game. In some levels it can feel a little bit generic but you don’t want a song to stand out too much because if it did it would get quite annoying after a while. Voice work is pretty average; some characters are much better than others. A few characters have what I’d call slightly dodgy accents. The sound design overall is good and I have no complaints about that.

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Multiplayer:

Online play for me was smoothest experience, I only had a few slowdowns in the fight but this was due to people’s connections and not the game itself. The option to exclude people with a terrible connection is a nice touch and will help elevate any problems you should encounter. Online play offers both ranked matches and a standard one-on-one without the risk of losing your ranking. One nice feature is the ability to play against those on the PS3 as well. Having the two consoles share their online experience helps keep both consoles online lobby healthy. The last option is for those that want to practice their skills against a friend.

Final Thoughts:

Dead or Alive 5 Plus is a great looking fighting game on the Vita, it is hard to compare it to most other games in its genre due to them going for a more stylized look rather than a realistic look. The story is enjoyable at times but can be a let-down at parts. For Dead or Alive fans this is a must as it is almost everything the console version has. Also you can use the touch screen to jiggle boobies, so yeah, there is that…

Score: 

8-10

Overview
Publisher: Tecmo Koei, Developer: Team Ninja
Release Date: US: 19/03/13 EU: 22/03/13
Platforms: Vita, PS3, Xbox 360 Digital: Yes
Price: US: $29.99 EU: £24.99
Rating: ESRB: M PEGI:16
Offline Players: Competitive: 2
Online Players: Competitive: 2
Online Pass: No