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Dead or Alive 5 Plus
Score: 85%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Tecmo KOEI America
Developer: Team Ninja
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2 (Online)
Genre: Fighting/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
So it seems that Tecmo KOEI is eager to get the latest of their current gen offerings on the PlayStation Vita. Dead or Alive 5 Plus is the latest, and also the greatest. It's the same great fighter that launched last year, and little (if anything) has been sacrificed to bring it to the small screen. If you liked Dead or Alive 5 and would like to take it on the go, now's your chance.

Dead or Alive 5 Plus captures the visual essence of its console version with no problems. The intrinsically creepy sexiness of the female fighters is something of a hallmark of the series, and it's here in all its dubious glory. Unsettling symmetry and universal voluptuousness aside, this is an excellent-looking fighter, and I don't necessarily need to use the qualifier "handheld." It's colorful, exceptionally well-animated, and diverse.

Sound-wise, Dead or Alive 5 is mostly inoffensive. The English dub is still questionable, but since the Story Mode doesn't take itself seriously at all, it's okay. You have the option to choose the Japanese voice track, which is always nice. The music is forgettable when compared to that of other fighting games, but that also means that it's not particularly bad. Sound effects are brutal, though most strikes don't sound like the explosive connections in Tekken.


Gameplay:
All the features that made Dead or Alive 5 a great game return for Dead or Alive 5 Plus. Story Mode is still a self-aware camp fest -- a good thing, because it would never have gotten away with being serious. You take on the role of the entire cast as they deal with their own problems through fisticuffs. Oh, and there's also some stuff in there about DOATEC and the tournament. As if you really care.

Fight Mode and all its trimmings (Versus, Arcade, Time Attack, and Survival) return for this handheld version, and they are all as satisfying as they ever were. That being said, I'm a sucker for Arcade to the point where the rest of the modes are reduced to bonuses.

Training Plus is still a great way to learn the basics of each character; between the freeform exercises, command training, and combo challenges, there's no way you'll walk away without being at least somewhat better than you were going in.

Touch Fight is the new addition for Dead or Alive 5 Plus, and it's kind of worthless. In this first-person mode, all you do is perform tapping, swiping, flicking, pressing, and pinching motions on the touchscreen to beat up your opponent. It's kind of a neat idea, but in execution it's just mindless and dull.

Of course, you can take your game online over the PlayStation Network infrastructure mode or in good old Ad Hoc, provided you know someone else with the game. Online play is satisfying and mostly lag free. Just like it should be.


Difficulty:
Dead or Alive 5 Plus's tutorial is thorough with regards to the foundations of the core fighting mechanics. That's a very good thing, since the rock-paper-scissors system must be totally mastered before you start laying any kind of smack down-- even offline.

Dead or Alive 5 Plus can make you feel like you're on top of the world, only to hurl you down to rock bottom in a heartbeat. This can be a very humbling game, especially if you take it online. That being said, button mashers will only be able to beat other button mashers.


Game Mechanics:
Strikes, holds, and throws. That's your main arsenal in Dead or Alive 5 Plus. Each is strong against one but weak against the other. You must factor that in with your reflexes and timed button presses in order to be the victor. This isn't nearly the most complex or technical fighting game out there, but the fighting looks great and is generally a lot of fun. These brawls don't look canned or held back by any animation-based limitations.

At the other end of the spectrum are Critical Stuns, Critical Hits, Critical Bursts, and Power Blows. Landing Criticals opens the door for unavoidable combination attacks. But be careful -- a wounded animal tends to be far more dangerous than a healthy one. Once a fighter's health gets below a certain point, a potentially devastating Power Blow can be executed.

Dead or Alive 5 Plus is a great port of a great fighter. Sure, the Vita-exclusive mode is a complete bust, but that's not its key selling point to begin with. This is Dead or Alive 5 for gamers on the move, and it competently achieves that goal.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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