Want to take your favorite Team Ninja fighters with you and start brawls anywhere? Now you can with Dead or Alive 5 Plus on the PS Vita! Similar to Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus released last month, DOA5+ is a remake of DOA 5 with some added features for the Vita. Unlike Ninja Gaiden, DOA5+ allows you to interact with DOA 5 on the PS3, as well as with players that prefer DOA with a PS3 on a larger TV screen. I’ll go into more detail about these interactions in a little bit.
First off, the game feels just like DOA on the consoles, and it should. Every fight runs smoothly at 60 frames per second, exactly like its PS3 counterpart. Online matches may have occasional slowdowns, but they also have the fast, fluid flow needed in competitive fighting matches. Graphics are very impressive on the Vita, in the Story mode’s movies, and in the actual fights. Each stage really stands out with creative themes, lively backgrounds, and a standard feature of DOA games, multiple levels that will deal extra damage to opponents.
The Story mode showcases beautiful cinematics, and story arcs for each character, including special characters like Ryu from Ninja Gaiden, and personalities from the Virtua Fighter series. Every character arc won’t be available right away, so you’ll have to replay Story mode multiple times to see each character’s personal backstory. As a casual fan of the DOA series, I couldn’t tell you each intricacy in the plot, but the main overarching story involves everyone gathering together for the Dead or Alive 5 Tournament. The acting is very cheesy, full of dramatic moments mixed with humor, but I enjoyed these moments, knowing that DOA doesn’t take itself too seriously. I made it through Story mode at around three-and-a-half hours on the easiest difficulty.
There are the more standard modes in a fight game: Versus, Arcade, Time Attack, and Survival. In Versus, you stage one fight with the setting and characters of your choice, deciding who you will control, and who the computer’s opponent character will be. Arcade is the traditional “fight X amount of characters, and obtain the highest score” mode. Time Attack is similar to Arcade, except a time limit is set, and you race to see how fast you can beat every character. In Survival, you fight characters one-by-one without any breaks to see how many opponents you can defeat.
If you need to brush up on your fighting techniques, there are several detailed training modes. Free Training lets you customize your practice. Command Training allows you to study specific commands for different characters. The tutorial teaches general moves and advice for newcomers on how to play the game. Combo Challenge offers tasks to complete for each character based on his or her specific moves.
The main draw for many fighting game fans is undoubtedly multiplayer matches. You can compete with players online via the Playstation Network, or locally with the ad hoc feature. In the Online menu, you can start or join a Simple Match with anyone online for fun, or compete in ranked matches for bragging rights in the online leaderboards. There is also the Online Dojo where you can invite a friend to practice fighting techniques. I only played a few Simple Matches, and I had no major issues with lag, even though there was some minor slowdown in action-packed moments. Another useful mode is Spectator mode, where you can save your fights, and replay them from several angles, as well as watch fights between computer-controlled characters.
One of my favorite parts of DOA 5+ is the amount of customization that is available: costumes, controls, difficulty, camera, music, voiceover languages (Japanese sounds incredible!), information displayed such as how to perform certain moves, and even…breast motion? Yes, moving breast physics for female characters is back in this installment, and has 3 settings: Off, “DOA” with the most over-the-top motion, and “Natural” as the middle ground between the other 2 settings.
The one mode that did not impress me was Touch Fight. You select characters and the stage like a normal fight, but you replace the Vita’s buttons with the touchscreen, and you see from the point of view of your character. There are several commands you can execute with different touch gestures, but for the majority of my fights, I could furiously tap and swipe my way to victory without much thought to my technique. I could see why Team Ninja wanted to include this mode to showcase the Vita’s touch capabilities, but I think there could have been a better way to put the Vita’s power of touch to use.
Now, let’s go back to the cross-platform interaction between the Vita and the PS3. Players on Vita and PS3 can play against each other in the same match. Costumes and fight achievements, called “Titles”, can be transferred between the two platforms, as well as save data. Trophies will NOT transfer interchangeably, but considering the PS3 version came out several years ago, I can forgive Team Ninja for this small oversight.
Overall, I consider DOA 5+ an excellent fighting game for the Vita, with amazing graphics, plenty of customization, several game modes, and satisfying online action. Fans of DOA should pick this up for everything that is DOA in handheld form.