Team Ninja has done a great job of supporting the PlayStation Vita lately. First there was Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus, and now their latest fighter has made its way to the handheld in the form of Dead Or Alive 5 Plus. The console version of Dead Or Alive 5 was a fantastic 3D fighter that released last September, and we gave it a near-perfect score in our review. Is this new Vita port as masterful as its console brethren?
Firstly, I’ll talk about something I glossed over in my original Dead Or Alive 5 review. The more humanized look of the characters is definitely an improvement. While some fans probably miss the overly anime-stylized girls of old, I found the new visual style really helps push the game’s graphical fidelity to new heights. Added details like sweat and dirt coating the CG-grade character models during fights really helps sell the realism, and all of these things have successfully been ported over to the Vita. Dead Or Alive 5 Plus sports lower-res textures, but besides that it’s nigh indistinguishable, visually, from the original release. Fans of the old games can even change DOA5′s more natural breast physics to the overly exaggerated classic style, which I found amusing.
So the game looks fantastic, but how does it play? You’ll be happy to hear that this is just about as perfect a port as I’ve ever played. Everything from the console version has made it into Dead Or Alive 5 Plus, and then some. The movesets are perfectly replicated, the reversals and throws are all here, and the action is fast paced and perfectly fluid. Not once did I witness any kind of slowdown in my playthrough, even while the game pushed out some of the best graphics yet seen on Sony’s handheld. All of the game’s vast tutorials have made their way into this release as well, allowing novices to grind their way up to a master level over time. Dead Or Alive 5 Plus’s tutorial modes are so in-depth and intuitive that I feel they deserve special mention. There’s even an Online Dojo mode where you can meet up with another player online and train together. I wish more fighters would put as much effort into their training modes; though Dead Or Alive 5 Plus is not as accessible initially as its predecessors, it’s easier to master because of them. Though this series was once cast aside as nothing more than a pervy diversion by hardcore fighting game fans, it’s steadily improving to the point that they will take notice. Dead Or Alive 5 Plus is not only gorgeous, its mechanics are quite solid.
The biggest new addition to Dead Or Alive 5 Plus is the Touch Fight mode. When this was first announced, I never saw it as anything more than a neat distraction from the standard gameplay. This mode takes advantage of the Vita’s touch screen and accelerometer, as you swipe and tap your way to victory from a first-person perspective. While it’s nothing amazing, it’s cool for what it is – essentially a smartphone version of DOA5.
Having put a solid amount of hours into the console version of DOA5, I’m glad to see that the game’s stellar online has been preserved, as well. Though there didn’t seem to be many players online (odd since the game supports cross-play and DOA5 is currently free with the European PS+), the matches I was able to connect to were completely lag-free. I should note that one thing I really love about this game is that it seems very well balanced; in a lot of other fighting games you’ll find players exploiting cheap combos and moves repeatedly for a quick victory. In Dead Or Alive 5 Plus, I never encountered anything like this- matches were won based on pure player skill, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Dead Or Alive 5 Plus is definitely not a lazy handheld port. A significant amount of effort clearly went into maintaining the original release’s visual and combat standards. Being able to play matches against PS3 opponents on a handheld is awesome, and all of the unlockable costumes, Facebook integration and online leaderboards are still here. The game’s lengthy story mode is intact, and all of your purchased PlayStation 3 DLC is re-downloadable on the Vita version for free. Overall, there’s really not much to complain about here. Great job, Team Ninja.