*dusts off keyboard*
stupid thing, i can't believe
oh! hi there! my name's Ajay and i play video games... well, sometimes.
actually, i kind of barely play video games anymore. i'm way more into buying a bunch of video games and not playing them for some reason. like, i bought at least 30 games since June and have probably played like, five of them.
i don't really play on PC, either so it's not really a steam sale kind of thing. i guess it's the fact that Microsoft and Sony keep having all sorts of crazy deals with their digital distribution platforms, or whatever. like, i bought Bully for the first time for like 3$ last week on XBLA and i haven't even played booted it up. that has to be some sort of crime somewhere, right?
i also, for some reason, imported Earth Defense Forces 4 like, six months ahead of its NA release and i must have played it like, twice. i've had it for like a month and i've only played it twice. i'm pretty sure i blew like 80 dollars on that game, too. i know this isn't a new problem for me, but really. jesus christ, Ajay.
...wait a minute. i'm writing words? oh man. i'm actually writing something! i can't believe that i've actually gotten around to writing words into this text box. i wonder what the catch is...
...right. of course. i'm writing about Dead or Alive. again.
Oh my god, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate happened
Dead or Alive 5 came out, i guess and i played a whole bunch of it. what a surprise. i'd like to say... um, something like 150-200 hours and 1500+ online matches across three platforms in the span of a year? that sounds about right.
i liked DOA5 a lot. i thought the offline modes were as boring as a butt ass and there were some things i didn't like about the interface and stuff, but i did enjoy the hell out of my time with it. i thought that actual fighting mechanics were the strongest in the series, but everything surrounding it was kinda weak.
so, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate was announced who-knows-how-long ago and i wasn't happy with it. it was probably due to the fact that i spend 200 dollars on DOA5 and didn't want to buy another version or maybe i just like to give Team NINJA a hard time whenever they make a decision that clashes with what i want. it was the first time where i wasn't excited for a a Dead or Alive game, sans Paradise, since i started really falling in love with the series.
whatever bad vibes i had prior to the release of DOA5U are pretty much gone now, since i bought it and played it way too much in such a short amount of time. that should probably speak for itself.
(spoiler alert: i like it.)
Hey, wait. What's so 'Ultimate' about it?
good question, painfully uninformed reader! they've added a couple of new cool things to kind of justify the whole 'Ultimate' subtitle (that's a subtitle, right?)
they added five new characters, most of which aren't really new. Leon and Ein (Hayate's alter-ego), ugly-heads extraordinaire make their return to the series since they were absent in vanilla DOA5 for some reason. Rachel (ewww) and Momiji from Ninja Gaiden also make their Dead or Alive debuts with new fighting styles. Jacky Bryant, hilariously out of place, is also there for some reason.
they've added a few new stages too, all of which are either from older games in the series or based off levels from Ninja Gaiden... so i don't know if they're all that new, actually. also, there's like, a hundred more costumes. that's not an exaggeration, either. there's 231 costumes to unlock now compared to the 114 in DOA5. that's pretty crazy.
uhh.. what else. they added some new modes and stuff too. there's an actual tutorial now, and there's a combo challenge mode that's pretty much a better version of the trials from Street Fighter IV. once again, none of it is really new since it was just all brought from the Vita version of DOA5.
there's also some changes to the tag mode too. they've added snap backs and team critical bursts, as well as the ability to partner up with another player online to make 4 player tag matches. they've made a big deal about how there's 4 player tag now for the first time in the series but guess what, that's not something new either.
alongside little additions like the ability to change BGM, that's really the gist of it, though. there's new stuff but... it's not so new. huh.
OK, whatever. Is there anything good about it?
The New Characters Are Pretty Rad
now, listen. i don't like Rachel. i think she's a terrible character, with an awful design and i think it's a shame when people say that they like her. i think Rachel is a whole ton of fun to play as in DOA5U. i've never been someone who has ever clicked with slower, grapple characters but Rachel is great. she has a bunch of cool moves and she packs enough of a weight to feel powerful, but versatile at the same time.
Momiji, on the other hand, is someone that i haven't managed to get the hang of yet. i've probably played as her more than i've played Rachel so far (which isn't much, to be honest) and i just can't get a feel for her playstyle. she has cool moves though, including a double jump and a neat critical burst combo that i can't ever seem to figure out.
Leon and Ein are... well, Leon and Ein. they're both characters that i haven't ever really put a bunch of time into. i've always thought that Leon was the most plain character in on the DOA roster, and was just a palette swap of Bayman. although, i did play as him for a little bit and did find some appreciation for him and his playstyle. his grabs are still brutal and fun to watch, as he just relentlessly beats the hell out of everyone. i've gotten the hang of Ein a little, since i realized he shares a lot of the same moves with Hitomi-- someone that i've played as a whole ton lately. although, that same fact doesn't really me any more interested in Ein since... well, i could just play as Hitomi (who has cooler costumes, anyway.)
one of the little issues i had with DOA5 was the inclusion of Virtua Fighter characters. i don't hate Virtua Fighter at all (in fact, i think VF5FS is an excellent fighting game) but i just feel like they're so out of place in Dead or Alive. their personalities seem so thin compared to the rest of the roster, and their playstyles are pretty different, but in a way that doesn't really fit so well with the rest of the DOA roster. for some, that may seem like a good thing but i personally didn't enjoy playing as them in DOA5.
i feel like Jacky Bryant kind of breaks that, though. i only played as him once, but his movement and flow feels a lot more similar to how other Dead or Alive characters play-- which i feel is definitely a good thing. i don't think i'll ever play as him willingly, however, along with the rest of the VF cast in the game.
The New Added Modes Are Fun And Useful
for whatever reason, it seems like it's hard to create any sort of good tutorial for a fighting game. i haven't tried the Skullgirls tutorial, but apart from that, it always sounds like people are having a hard time getting into a fighting game. i don't really think that DOA5U's tutorial changes that too much, but it is pretty good at going over all of the game's mechanics. going through it on the Vita, and assuming it's the same thing, it's pretty good at shedding some light on mechanics that a lot of people might not figure out just by playing the game. it's a whole ton better than the tutorial during DOA5's awful, awful story mode, but i thought that the practical parts of the tutorial that made you put what you've learned into use against an AI opponent weren't very good.
the refined tag mode is fucking rad. 2v2 tag online making a return is probably one of my favorite parts about Ultimate. it's so fast paced, chaotic and fun that even if you have no idea what's happening, it can still manage to be pretty fun. the snap backs are fun and the new tag animations are cool, too. i mean, Ayane and Hitomi's opening tag animation is friggin' great. it makes me feel just how i felt when i first played tag mode: i thought it was the best thing ever.
The New Costumes
The New BGM Options Made Me Squeal Like A Schoolgirl
does anyone remember that Countdown to Dead or Alive series i did last year building up to the release of Dead or Alive 5? no? well, i kind of have a huge crush on the Dead or Alive 2 OST. every time i hear it, it makes me feel funny inside in all of the good and bad ways. i love it.
with that said, i really appreciated the fact that you can set music from DOA2/3/4/5 to different characters, menus, etc. it's probably something that isn't a big deal, but this is pretty much the first thing like this in a Dead or Alive game and it makes me feel a lot more at home. i mean, changing the game's main menu music Deep Impact from DOA3? game of the year.
It's Still Fun To Play
they haven't made any drastic changes that totally change the way that the game plays, which is a great thing. the strongest aspect of Dead or Alive 5 was its simple yet deep, accessible and addictive gameplay that was highly refined over DOA4. they have changed some balance stuff that has thrown me off a little, but the new moves and the addition of the Power Launcher (which just sends your opponent soaring in the air) are welcome changes that make the game more enjoyable.
with that said, though, if you didn't like Dead or Alive before, you still won't like it here.
one of the best parts, though?
It's Free on the PS3
i think this is awesome. Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate supports a free-to-play model called Dead or Alive 5: Core Fighters on the PS3 which is cool. with a free download on the Playstation Store, you gain access to four characters-- Ayane, Kasumi, Hayabusa and Hayate for free along with pretty much every mode except the game's story mode. the online is fully playable between free and retail players, and all costumes for available characters are fully unlockable. new characters can be purchased for 4$ each, and there seems to be some sort of character rotation, similar to League of Legends.
i think this is great. it's a way to gain a much wider audience, and new fans. i think that having the four ninjas available instead of a constantly changing roster is kind of lame since the four ninjas have the same fighting style and multiple similarities, but i think having Kasum is great considering how accessible she is a character.
the only downside is that it seems to be hidden in on the PSN store. it has no promotion-- it's nowhere on the front page and is totally lost in the new releases section. the only way that i've found it is by going to the DOA5U page and scrolling all the way to the bottom of the add-ons list to find it. i don't think anyone who doesn't already own DOA5U is going to be looking there.
there's other stuff about Ultimate that are cool, but most of it is pretty standard stuff. there's a new ranking system for ranked matches, where players on winning streaks have point bounties, and some little changes, such as being able to change the controller configuration from the online lobby, unlocking costumes by playing lobby matches and displaying winning streaks in-game that are much appreciated.
Great, I guess. Is there anything that isn't so good about it?
The Offline Modes Are Still A Snoozefest
one of my least favorite parts about DOA5 had to be how god damn uninteresting the offlines modes were. it had the standard arcade, time attack and survival modes with absolutely nothing interesting to them. they felt like totally boring grinds for costumes, and nothing more.
that's still the case in Ultimate. thankfully, you can unlock costumes by playing online now, but that doesn't change the fact that the offline modes are still boring as hell.
i don't even know to explain it. part of it comes from the game's AI. fighting against AI in fighting games isn't really ever that fun, but it's even more so in Dead or Alive. having the AI counter all of your moves and play nearly perfectly isn't ever that enjoyable. there's never that satisfaction of victory once you finally defeat that AI opponent you've been stuck on for like 20 minutes. it's just like, "ugh, i still have another seven matches of this left." Dead or Alive truly shines when you're playing another human opponent, and playing it offline gives it a total disservice.
the good news is that i never actually have to play them now. i only ever play the offline modes in Dead or Alive games to unlock costumes, but now i can just do that online by playing. although, it still would have been nice to have some cool offline modes to come back to and mess around with.
The Matchmaking Still Isn't Very Good
part of the reason why DOA5U is an entirely separate retail release instead of DLC is because they apparently overhauled the entire online netcode. it's supposed to be smoother to play and easier to get into games. i've definitely noticed that playing online is a lot more smooth now-- at least, so far. even one bar connections play just fine, but i haven't played online enough to say this with certainty.
unfortunately, the ranked game matchmaking is still junk. it still takes forever to find matches, and i don't like that you can see your opponent's fight record is before accepting the match. that shouldn't be a thing! i feel like playing ranked should be some sort of gamble, where you'll never know who you'll face. it should be a challenge, instead of giving you the option to pick and choose who you want to play against.
There's A Disappointing Lack of 'New' Content
seriously. there's not really much of anything in this game that's actually new. most of it is just stuff from previous games or other Team NINJA games and it's kind of a bummer. the characters and characters are either from Ninja Gaiden or previous DOA games, but at least there's some new original costumes.
it's not a bad thing, per se to use content from previous games but it just feels... disappointing at this point, especially considering how prone TN is to doing this in all of their games. i love the hell out of Ayane's Ninja Gaiden costumes in this game, but my favorite costumes in DOA5 were the brand new ones. i would have loved for there to be more new stuff.
the fact that it's old content kind of shows too. Lost World is a pretty stage, but it feels so dated at this point. especially compared to the other stages, there just doesn't seem to be much to it at all. the stage's gimmick of falling off a cliff got old pretty fast, and the surfaces are so small that you can't really get much done. it feels like it was designed for another game-- before DOA was had such elaborate combos and juggles.
it probably looks like i'm scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point, but this is how i felt about the new additions in a way. don't get me wrong-- the new stages are great and gorgeous, but i would have appreciated everything a whole lot more if it was all-new.
I don't care about all of these words. Is it good, or what?
yes! i think Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is fucking excellent. it builds upon an already great playing, gorgeous looking, lovely sounding fighting game. it's still the accessible, content-packed and long lasting fighting game that was released a year ago... just with, you know, a cat hoodie for Eliot and an option to change the breast physics.
you should play it. really. if you own a PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, a controller and an internet connection, you should try out Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate. it's fun, frantic and it's free. you like free stuff, right?!
geez, i wrote a lot, huh? i hope you kind of enjoyed reading that, at least. it took me more than a year to finally gather my thoughts on Dead or Alive 5, so these thoughts are anything but final. it's just how i feel about everything right now. first impressions, i suppose!
...it's no DOA2 Ultimate, though.
thanks for reading.