Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate Review
Extra Features: Local Multiplayer (1-4), Online Multiplayer (2-16 players), Download Content, Leaderboards
Around this time last year many fighting fans most likely played Dead or Alive 5 (DOA5) for the home consoles or the follow-up Dead or Alive 5 Plus for PS Vita. DOA5 had many returning DOA characters from past games along with some new faces and Virtua Fighter guest characters. Recently, an upgraded version of the fighting game entitled "Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate" was released and gave the game several more enhancements. Ultimate extends the cast, adds some touch-ups to existing modes and fixes some of the complaints from the original two predecessors.
If you want a full review of the original game then be sure to check out my review for DOA5 here on The Gamers' Temple. I'll mainly focus on what is new for this review rather than go through what DOA5 fans already know. The original DOA5 had a cast of 19 selectable fighters and Ultimate adds fives new faces to the list. Rachel and Momiji join the cast from the Ninja Gaiden franchise, Jacky Bryant is now added to the list of Virtua Fighter guest characters and Leon and Ein return from past DOAs. Rachel and Momiji are a most welcome addition to the line-up - it's great to have more Ninja Gaiden characters besides just Ryu and Ayame for once. Momiji plays similar to Ryu but has her own moves and Rachel is more of a grapple-type of character. Jacky is one of the better choices for a Virtua Fighter since he is easy to pick up and play like much of DOA's cast. Leon and Ein play similar to the way they used to in past DOA games but have some slight changes to their move list - Leon plays similar to Bayman and Ein plays similar to Hitomi.
Unlike the original game, all characters are unlocked from the start in Ultimate. If you still have your saved data from DOA5, that save will carry over to Ultimate. All of your unlocked outfits, titles and story progression will all carry over to Ultimate. Story mode stays the exact same for Ultimate. From what I played of story mode in Ultimate, nothing had changed at all - it's still included for those that want to play it however. Ultimate has a new list of trophies/achievements that is separate from the original game's listings - they are MUCH less time-consuming this time.
Along with the new fighters, some of the characters have tweaked moves and there are a few extra stages to play in. The Lost World stage and Forest from DOA3 along with a new Desert stage are now selectable in DOA5. There is an option to change stage music for each stage now. There is a list of several tracks to choose from for all stages. Some of the tracks come from the older DOAs such as DOA4, DOA3 and DOA2. It wouldn't be DOA without tons of outfits and Ultimate ups the alternate outfit count to 231 total outfits, which is more than double when compared to the original game's 114 outfits. Ultimate includes most of the DLC outfits that were available for the original DOA5 - the only DLC costumes that must be purchased separately are the swimsuits and the Christmas outfits.
Ultimate expands upon the training mode in the original game. The original game had a very nice detailed listing of each fighter's moves - showing off info such as frame data and other details. Ultimate adds in a tutorial mode and a combo challenge mode to the training options. The Tutorial mode is highly detailed and goes over everything that is included in DOA5's fighting mechanics, so you don't have to go looking through story mode for a training mission to explain a certain special technique anymore. I actually learned a few techniques from tutorial mode that I didn't even know about in DOA5. The combo challenge is much like the trials in Street Fighter 4 where you have to complete a list of combos. Command training is still included along with a free training mode of course.
There is a new Power Launcher move that can be activated much like a Power Blow from the original game. When your character is low in life, you can hit your opponent with a charged Power Launcher that will knock the opponent into the air so that your character can juggle the spinning opponent on the way down. The game includes more tag poses, tag throws and some extra taunts per fighter. Ranked matches can now be played in a tag fight mode. Tag mode has changed a bit to where each fighter can only recover a certain amount of health while tagged out and there is also a new forced tag out called "Force Out" - I'm sure all of this is familiar to MvC players. There is a new team battle mode (Team Fight) that allows players to select seven fighters and then fight against another team of seven fighters - basically, like a seven character survival mode. Team Fight is offline only, but it can be played multiplayer locally.
Besides the tag fighting mode added to online ranked matches, online play has not changed that much. The Simple Fight option is gone from online play. You need to keep throwdown fights active while playing a single player mode or search for a lobby and join to fight another player quickly now. Lobbies are still just about the same as before. Spectator mode can still be used and players can chat with the text chat box. Players can sit in a lobby in a spectator mode to watch other players fight each other just like in past DOA games.
If you are playing on PS3, Ultimate is available in two ways - players can purchase a retail version or buy the full version through digital download and the other option is to download a free version called "Dead or Alive: Ultimate Core Fighters". The free version includes four selectable fighters and a player can use those fighters in most of the modes that the game has to offer. Extra fighters can be bought along with extra modes. It's basically like sampling the full game a few characters at a time, so if you prefer one character over others then you can just buy that one character and play. The best part about the free version and the full version is that players that own either version can battle it out online with each other.
So, the answer that you're probably wondering is if the game is worth picking up or not? If you already own the original DOA5, I really feel it's worth the price if you're a fan of DOA. For those that didn't check out the original DOA5 and you want a good 3D fighter to play, Ultimate is a great pickup. The main problem with the game that carries over from DOA5 is that the story mode still weights the game down. It remains unchanged and is still just as boring. On a positive side, the story mode does not require playing to unlock anything, not even trophies/achievements now! If you've played DOA in the past, you'll know that they are not the deepest fighting games on the market, but they are still fun to play. DOA5 is easily the best in the series so far however and Ultimate adds much more to it.
On the plus side, the game is now more welcoming for a player that wants to play it single player. The combo challenges (for each character) and tutorial mode are a most welcome addition for beginners and those that want to focus on single player for a while. The online play is much the same, which isn't bad. The new characters for Ultimate are quite interesting - as said before, Rachel and Momiji are some very welcome familiar faces from the Ninja Gaiden series.
Ultimate is worth a try for those that are curious and are hungry for another 3D fighter.
+ New characters and a few gameplay additions
+ Enhanced training options
+ More single player options this time
- The story mode is very long and boring
Final Rating: 82%. Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate is a great fighter for new players and might be a worthy upgrade for those that already own the original DOA5.