Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Developer: Team Ninja
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
Dead or Alive 5 released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 earlier this year. Its upgrade in visuals compared to DOA 4 were a huge step for the series, not to mention the inclusion of guest fighters from Sega's Virtua Fighter series. Now, Tecmo Koei have created a sort of "Champion Edition" version of DOA 5 with Dead or Alive 5 Plus exclusively for the PlayStation Vita, containing everything from the console versions with a few added extras. The only question remains, is the Vita Version worth owning if you already have the console version?
First off, if you own the Xbox 360 version of DOA 5, then some small features found in the Vita version will be of no use to you, such as Cross-play and Cross saving data. Owners of the PS3 version will be able to take advantage right out of the box. So all of the costumes you purchased in the PlayStation Store will transfer over to the Vita version once you sign in. When you boot the game up you will see the same modes found in the console releases. Store mode follows the same paths with the same cut scenes, Arcade, Time Attack and Survival are all the same as before, except the Vita version does not have Tag Battle for any of these modes. While the omission of Tag is puzzling, it could be because of limitations on the memory or the Vita hardware itself.
In any case, to make up for losing Tag Battles, we have the brand new Touch Fight. Touch Fight is unique to the Vita thanks to the great touch screen on the unit. This is a first person type fight where all your moves are performed by tapping and swiping the screen. Simple taps will attack the opponent, while swiping the screen will perform a launch attack, allowing for lightning quick combos. Moves like guarding can be done by holding two fingers on the screen, and the Power Blow is performed by holding your finger on the opponent when your health runs too low. It's a neat mode that can be played when your in the mood for a different kind of challenge. Also not found in the console versions is a Training Mode, where you can practice with any character and master thousands of different combos in Combo Challenge. The Vita version also adds 3 new difficulties to the Arcade and Time Attack modes, True Fighter, Master and Legend. I tried Legend right off the bat and let me tell you, this is definitely a mode for the top masters. I lasted about 5 seconds into the first fight before it was KO. With these added difficulty settings, it does seem like the standard settings got a little easier to compensate, so Rookie now feels like a complete joke, and Normal feels like Easy. Overall, no matter what your experience level is, you will find a nice challenge.
Control feels very nice, even with the tighter space on the Vita's set up. You can use either the digital pad or the left analog to move your character, and the 4 face buttons to attack. The L and R buttons can be set for different button combinations like power strikes and throws to allow for easier combo chains during battle. It always feels tight and responsive, even with the more technical combos. The Touch Fight controls are not as responsive as the regular though, as sometimes a tap might not register. Since Touch Fight is it's own mode and doesn't effect the main game modes, you only have to deal with that if you are playing through Touch Fight mode to completion. Oddly, I had a few small control lag issues in the Training Modes, but they weren't frequent and didn't happen in other modes. Also included is an improved Online Mode. In my experience, I found the online mode on the console releases to be a bit twitchy, but I didn't experience any sort of problems with it here. Every fight was virtually lag free and never disconnected. Much like PlayStation All Stars, you are able to compete against other Vita and PS3 players which can be fun, but on occasion playing a PS3 user can slow down the action a little bit. It didn't happen often, but playing against another Vita owner was much better.
The visuals are just as stunning as they are in the console versions. While cutscenes in the story modes and before a fight are locked at about 30 to 45 FPS, the actual fights are a fluid 60 FPS and never stutter. The character models are nicely animated with no missing frames making it look like Team Ninja simply shrunk the console version into a smaller package. I expected a drop in visuals overall, but I was very surprised, and pleased that no drop in quality is found here. Even the arenas retain all of their animation and great atmosphere found in the other versions, which is truly an amazing example of the work that went into this port. On the audio front, we have all of the great tracks found in the other versions, with an added feature that allows you to select which music you want to hear and when. You can set each character to have music based on the stage they appear in, or have them have their own tune when you encounter them. Everything from the music to the bone shattering hits all sound great coming through the Vita's tiny, yet powerful speakers.
If you already own another version of Dead or Alive 5, there isn't enough new material here to recommend a purchase unless you are die hard fan and want a portable version. The Touch Fight and other extra modes are nice but are more of a novelty than a reason to run out and pick this one up. Other extras like the Zach Island arena and the other difficulty modes are already available on Xbox Live and PSN as DLC. If you don't own either of the console versions but still want a solid 3D fighter, than this version might be right up your alley. The only advantage to owning both the PS3 and Vita versions is that you don't have to re-buy all the costumes you may have purchased, and that won't apply to owners of the Xbox 360 version. Like I said before, if you must have a portable version of DOA 5 then you won't be disappointed here, but if you are satisfied with playing at home, then the minor additions in DOA 5 Plus may not be enough for a purchase.