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Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate Review: Ultimate Fighter

Dead or Alive Ultimate (1)

There are some things you can always count on; Mario saving the Princess, EA Sports releasing a Madden NFL game every year, and that any successful fighting game will undergo a revision. Dead Or Alive 5 is no exception. Back in March, Dead Or Alive 5 Plus hit the PlayStation Vita with the force of a Power Blow. That impressive port featured a vastly improved Training mode and a Background Music mode that granted the ability to forever silence the lackluster tunes of the original game. Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate brings those features and a heap of new content to home consoles.

Right off the bat, Ultimate greets you with a modified main menu that now features full-color stage flyovers in the background instead of the dreary black and white of the original. This goes a long way towards setting a more welcoming vibe. Assisting with this transformation is the Music mode I mentioned a moment ago. In it, you can assign a specific song to each character and menu. This time, the soundtracks from DOA 2 & 3 are included (joining the OSTs of DOA4 & 5), allowing you to customize the audio experience to your nostalgic liking. To the disappointment of music fans with good taste, the Aerosmith tracks from previous games are absent.

Dead or Alive Ultimate (2)

Arguably, the biggest selling-point for Ultimate comes from the five new characters. Joining the fray are Ninja Gaiden‘s Rachel and Momiji, Virtua Fighter‘s Jacky Bryant, and the returning Ein and Leon. The biggest standout of the group is Momiji. Her fighting style is best described as a hybrid of the DOA ninjas and Jun Kazama from Tekken Tag Tournament 2. She moves with a more methodical pace than that of Kasumi or Ayane, frequently utilizing Aiki-Jujutsu techniques to turn the opponent’s own momentum against them. Easy to pick-up, fun to play as, the perfect addition to the DOA5 roster. Rachel, on the other hand, is a heavy hitter. Long-time (if 2006 can be considered long-time) fans will remember Dead Or Alive 4‘s Nicole, a.k.a. SPARTAN-458, a cross-over character representing the Halo franchise. Rachel plays akin to her, having slower movements balanced out by raw power. In fact, it appears that some of Nicole’s non-Halo moves have been dusted off for the leather-clad, beehived beauty. Sadly, none of the new fighters were interwoven into the Story mode.

Also growing by five is the stage count. Mercifully, these arenas lack the grittiness found in most of vanilla DOA5‘s stages. Perhaps the most strikingly beautiful of the new battlegrounds is actually an old favorite; Dead Or Alive 3‘s ‘Forest’. Autumn leaves fill the screen with bright reds and yellows as combatants throw-down in a wooded area with a creek. Another DOA3 stage making a comeback is ‘Lost World’. This stage features an endless string of small, circular clifftops that practically beg you to knock your opponent off of them. Continuing with the heavy Ninja Gaiden theme is a stage ripped right out of Ninja Gaiden II (the modern one). ‘Sky City Tokyo’ takes place on a wide open balcony that overlooks Godzilla’s favorite stomping ground at night. Just watch out for the giant, angry statue that acts as the stage’s Danger Zone. An aircraft carrier is the site of the second after dark stage. While not the visual feast of Forest, the setting makes for an interesting backdrop. Rounding out the new stages is ‘Desert Wasteland’; a sandy, uneven location under the blazing hot sun that’s bound to conjure up flashbacks to Uncharted 3. Of the five, Aircraft Carrier and Sky City Tokyo are the only tag team compatible stages.

 Dead or Alive Ultimate (3)

It wouldn’t be a Dead Or Alive game, especially one with the name ‘Ultimate’, without a lot of costumes. In that regard, Ultimate does a respectable job, but not a perfect one. Included are over two hundred costumes, such as all of those from DOA5, the training dummy suits from DOA5+, some new (and classic) attires, and several of the lesser popular DLC packs. Here’s the problem; on the character selection screen, even when playing offline, the game shows you the costumes that are sold separately. Highlighting one will even load up the character model wearing that piece of DLC and the words “This costume has not been downloaded”. It’s blatant taunting by Tecmo Koei. Nothing reaffirms your decision to buy a $40 game quite like seeing that the most desirable costumes (swimsuits, uniforms, etc.) are locked away in plain sight. Those who have already purchased DLC for either DOA5 or DOA5+ will be relieved to know that DLC does carry over to Ultimate.

Being a fighting game revision, Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate sports plenty of subtle changes. Team Battle, a classic DOA mode where up to seven fighters square off in a last man standing match, joins the previous version’s offline offerings. The longevity leaves something to be desired, though, as you cannot pick and choose the CPU-controlled opponents. Survival mode has been tweaked to feature item drops that replenish health, supply score bonuses, and even grant a free comeback meter. Speaking of comebacks, Ultimate has a new offensive technique called Power Launchers. When your health bar drops to or below 50%, it will glow red. Instead of cashing in this comeback meter on a Power Blow, you can now opt for a Power Launcher that, as the name suggests, launches your opponent high up into the air, enabling you to combo them for massive damage. The fresh combat content doesn’t stop there, as I noticed several additions to the move list. Two of Lisa/La Mariposa’s new back throws are bound to raise eyebrows on account of them being fan-service the likes of which I haven’t seen since Rumble Roses XX.

Dead or Alive Ultimate (4)

Online multiplayer, save for server-side technical difficulties with the solo match-making, has been improved. Ranked matches occasionally offer prize fights. Beating an opponent with a win-streak of five or more rewards you with extra grade points, in addition to the sense of self-satisfaction. The longer the win-streak, the bigger the payoff will be. Tag team ranked matches are now possible and have their own separate grade. Most of the ninety-plus online bouts I played did not stutter in the least. When the connection strength is on the lower end of the spectrum, however, things can become an insufferable slide show. Input delay during my optimal signal matches was negligible, but against bad connections, countering devolves into pure luck. You can gauge about how well the responsiveness is going to be by how quickly the cursor moves on the character selection screen when pressing a direction on the D-pad.

In the end, Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate is a worthwhile re-release. The new fighters, stages, and content spice things up considerably, making the overall package much more enjoyable than the original. Factor in improved online netcode and the decision to double-dip becomes an easy one. PlayStation 3 players on-the-fence about picking up a retail copy can download Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate: Core Fighters; a micro-transaction-based, free-to-play version with four characters and online play.

Dead or Alive Ultimate (5)

There are some things you can always count on; Mario saving the Princess, EA Sports releasing a Madden NFL game every year, and that any successful fighting game will undergo a revision. Dead Or Alive 5 is no exception. Back in March, Dead Or Alive 5 Plus hit the PlayStation Vita with the force of a Power Blow. That impressive port featured a vastly improved Training mode and a Background Music mode that granted the ability to forever silence the lackluster tunes of the original game. Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate brings those features and a heap of new content…

Review Overview

Gameplay - 90%
Story - 80%
Aesthetics - 80%
Content - 90%
Accessibility - 90%

86%

Very Good

Summary : Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate justifies its existence with great new content and a fresh coat of polish.

User Rating: 1.75 ( 7 votes)

About Eric Blue

Often referred to by his nickname “Blue”, the upbeat Eric ‘BlueSwim’ joined Tech-Gaming as its fighting game, pro-wrestling, and Sailor Moon expert in 2011. Although his heart belongs to the classics of yesteryear, this jack-of-all-trades gamer doesn’t shy away from playing the modern-day greats as well.

39 comments

  1. This is $39.99, right?

    Man, I wish Tecmo would throw a bone to people who bought DoA5 at launch.

  2. “Most of the ninety-plus online bouts I played did not stutter in the least. ”

    that’s what I like to hear in a fighting game.

  3. I’m glad you didn’t disappoint with that top pic? Pure click bait!

  4. Yeah for a BlueSwim review! We don’t get all that many of those.

    Really good write-up, BTW.

  5. Why do tag team review with a Deagle combo finisher?

    Oh, that would have made it really long, huh?

  6. Good review Blue!

    Now Itagaki-san wants to speak with you for a second…

    • “I SWEAR TO GOD, ITAGAKI-SAMA, THE DEAD OR ALIVE: ULTIMATE GAME YOU MADE WAS BETTER! HONEST! NOW PLEASE PUT THE SWORD DOWN!” ‘

      Thank ya, kindly! 😀

      • You just avoiding being a tester for my new slice physics modeling. Looks like I’ll have to cleave away at cars parked in the Tecmo-Koei parking lot.

  7. Why isn’t Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate: Core Fighters on XBL? Why does Microsoft not want me to have fun? Don’t they want to make me happy so I’ll buy their damn Xbone?

  8. Nice work, Blue.

    I need to pick this up!

    • What’s with the Major Nelson pics these days? I can’t stand looking at that clown. He’s like the 50 year old uncle that acts like he’s 20.

      thanks for the review, Eric.

      • Thanks, guys! 😀

        Good grief, is that what Major Nelson looks like now? I thought it was Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear U.K.

        • I couldn’t resist.

          • Oh god, please don’t turn this place into NeoGAF where for every intelligent post, there’s 50 “Have you seen Titanfall” and “First Post” memes.

            I stopped reading and posting, there. EvilOre really needs to clean house. And adding drones like Major Nelson only adds to the noise. But I guess, it’s more about the page views and monies.

          • I used to love NeoGaf because it was where the hardcore gamers went. No, there are more idiots than anything and the place is a big mess full of dumb memes. At least they still have the best GIFs though.

        • No that’s old Nelson. Now he’s fatter, has less hair and kind of looks like a creeper.

  9. “Highlighting one will even load up the character model wearing that piece of DLC and the words “This costume has not been downloaded”. It’s blatant taunting by Tecmo Koei. Nothing reaffirms your decision to buy a $40 game quite like seeing that the most desirable costumes (swimsuits, uniforms, etc.) are locked away in plain sight. Those who have already purchased DLC for either DOA5 or DOA5+ will be relieved to know that DLC does carry over to Ultimate.”

    Ugh, this is pretty sad.

    • It really is. In addition to the previous DLC, a new costume pack was released yesterday for $15.

      The new pack has Kokoro in a white sukumizu and an *AMAZING* seashell bikini for Helena… Trying to resist purchasing it until Tecmo Koei gets my current DLC problem fixed, but I’m cracking.

  10. I’ll wait for Super Ultimate, which doesn’t remind me to buy additional DLC.

    If that doesn’t come out, well, eat shit TK.

    • Maybe that one will have the new character that the arcade version is getting…

      Yep, Tecmo Koei announced a new arcade character two days after DOA5U was released.

  11. I can wait until this drops to $15. Shady DLC practices and the games they are wrapped in don’t get my full price monies.

  12. Hows the framerate offline? DOA had a few hiccups on the PS3 version.

    • I saw some choppiness in a few win/loss poses and while moving the camera in spectator mode, but as for the fighting, nothing jumped out at me enough to leave a lasting impression. I’ll keep a closer eye on the frame-rate the next time I play and report back. 🙂

  13. Random review tidbits that I didn’t get to (or intentionally left):

    -A random costume selection has been added to the character selection screen. It picks from any unlocked or purchased costumes.

    -The solo match-making issue I mentioned is apparently due to the servers being overwhelmed by traffic, if I understand correctly. Team NINJA said that they’re looking into it.

    -Trophies are incredibly easy. You’ll have around 80% of them in several hours. Although, combo training and tutorial completion will be incredibly tough on a controller.

    -The fan-service moves I teased are, using my own names for them, a Bridging Spread Eagle German Suplex and the… ahem… 69 Splash. The first has Lisa lifting her opponent up from behind by their thighs and dumping them on the back of their head and neck, all while giving a “hello, world!” pantsu view. The other move is a flying body press with… interesting positioning. Seriously, I have no idea how it made it into the game. Not that I’m complaining or anything.

    -Some of the classic costumes are Tina’s black two-piece wrestling gear with silver vest and boots with tassels from DOA2, Hitomi’s denim jacket from DOA3, Bass’ Road Warriors-esque blue attire from DOA4, and Lei Fang’s blue and white striped top with white skirt from DOA3.

    -A movie mode was added and includes the ability to watch Story mode cutscenes, as well as win/loss animations in the costumes of your choice. You can also take photos of W/L poses.

    -The “OMG!” breast physics setting is included and it’s spectacular. You unlock it by seeing ten losing poses in the main game. You need to restart the game for the option to appear.

    -In solo mode, high scores/best times set by the player are highlighted on the leaderboard in green. It also shows the word “Clear” on the character selection screen if that fighter has beaten that course.

    -Unlocked costumes from DOA5 transfer over, but only during the first time you boot up DOA5U.

    -Costumes unlocked in DOA5+ on Vita and transferred over to DOA5 do not transfer over to DOA5U.

    I think that’s it for now. If I think of anything else, I’ll post it.

  14. “hello, world!” pantsu views should be in every game.

  15. The only way to play DoA5U…

  16. “overlooks Godzilla’s favorite stomping ground at night”.

    Godzilla is Tokyo’s friends now, didn’t you hear?

  17. I’ll be hosting a Tech-Gaming DOA5U lobby tonight at midnight/11CST on PS3. Grab either the free or full version of the game and join me! 😀

    • I would play but I need more notice that a few hours.

      • I was originally going to do it tomorrow, but I wasn’t busy tonight, so I threw it out there. Schedule permitting, I’ll host one tomorrow night, as well. 🙂