Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate Overview

The fifth installment of the long running Dead or Alive franchise is here and it definitely lives up to the hopes of- …wait a minute! I already reviewed this game! Yeah, Dead or Alive 5 came out this time last year. It was a good game but like so many fighting games, they had to release another version of it. Not a sequel, just another edition of the same game. I’ll get to that can of worms later but for now, let’s take a look at what Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate offers. Please refer to my old DOA5 review for coverage of the game itself; I am only going to be covering what’s new to the game in this article and if it’s really worthy of having the word ULTIMATE slapped on it. 

First off, the game is priced new at only $40 so they’re not trying to sell it at the typical new game price of $60 which is good. The biggest add-on is the addition of five new fighters.

Momiji: A female ninja from the most recent Ninja Gaiden games.
Jacky Bryant: The sister of Sarah Bryant and the fourth Virtua Fighter character to be featured in DOA. His voice reminds me of Sonic the Hedgehog.
Leon: A long time DOA character that was missing from the DOA5 roster is brought back though he is still mostly a clone of Bayman’s fighting style.
Ein: Hayate’s alter-ego and like Leon, he returns from previous DOA games.
Rachel: The sexy fiend hunter from Ninja Gaiden to add to the game’s already large amount of fan service.


These five, in addition to the completely unlocked previous roster, brings the total of playable characters to 30 making it the largest roster in the franchise to date. New levels are added in including some returning levels from DOA3 and 4 giving it the largest roster of stages as well. The story mode remains the same and does not include any of the 5 new characters. The only difference is the removal of the tutorials which makes some of the earlier fights slightly more difficult than they previously were. In my review of this game last year, I did give the story quite a bit of praise but after playing through it again… Yeah… I was less impressed. I give them an A for effort and I know fighting games aren’t well known for their stories but Injustice did show that a fighting game can have a really good story. I feel Dead or Alive Dimensions for the 3DS had the best for story for the franchise so far, in terms of pacing anyway.  

Training mode is now separated into five different extensive modes. If you really want to become a master at this game, it gives you all the tools to make it happen. In addition to regular fighting, arcade, time attack, and survival modes, is the 7 on 7 mode in which you pick a seven person team and go up against another 7 person team controlled by the CPU or another player. Great for parties! Aside from 7v7 mode, tag matches have been added to all fighting modes giving double to cover if you are looking to complete all the modes with each character as well the several levels difficulty for each. If you’re looking to complete this game 100%, you got your work cut out for you. 


The game comes with many more costumes than the original version and the costumes released via DLC BUT the DLC costumes are locked on the disk, which is something I can’t stand, and you will have to download them if you don’t already have them. They can only be unlocked if have internet connection. If you have already downloaded costumes, they do transfer into Ultimate so no worries there. I did notice that it is easier to unlock costumes in this version of the game. Beating any fighting game mode with a character for the first time will ensure a new costume is unlocked. This is nice for those who want variety in the appearance of your fighters and/or for those who want to see the female characters in sexy outfits. It is a bit disappointing that all of the costumes that had been released for DLC were not also included in Ultimate for unlock and not needing to be unlocked from the disc. Lame. Exhibition mode was been added to the basic versus fight mode. Turning this on will temporarily unlock all costumes and levels. I guess this is for when you are playing at your friend’s house and they want to see everything in the game without actually unlocking everything. You also now have access to the game’s music and are free to remix the wide selection of music as you see fit. Oh and there is a ‘Breast movement’ setting in the opinion menu. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this. Stay classy, Japan.

Only a couple very minor things about the gameplay are changed. Characters now have more than one opening and victory speeches which makes things less repetitive at the start and endings of matches. Taunting is now easier to do and most characters having different taunts that can be performed with L trigger and D-Pad. I should note that the Virtua Fighter characters do not have taunts they can perform. I did notice that the AI will still sometimes spam moves with certain characters. This is a problem I hoped would have been worked out from the original. Spamming moves is something a newbie to fighting games does, not the game AI. I would’ve also liked to have seen a way to transfer the pictures you take in spectator mode to your computer or internet somehow. I think there is a way to do it but I have no idea how. If anyone knows, please let me know. 


So is DOA5 Ultimate worth getting over the original? If you don’t own the original, yes, this is the version you’d want since it has much more content but that’s about it. Speaking of which, have you ever noticed that there are so many different versions to fighting games out there? You go to buy a fighting game and there are like 2 or 3, sometimes more, different variants of the same game. Some have more characters or are more designed for tournaments but they’re the same game. Many can point the start of this to the early 90’s with Capcom’s mega hit Street Fighter 2. A great game but it ended up having four different versions of the game between 1991 and 1994. Then there was the Alpha series and EX series till FINALLY getting to Street Fighter 3 in 1997 which in turn had its own series of spin-offs. So when someone asks you ‘have you played Street Fighter 3?’ you pretty much have to ask, ‘which one?’ They’re still doing it even with Street Fighter 4. When buying it, I had to figure out which was the best version and the consensus seemed to be on Super Street Fighter 4. What’s the difference from the other versions? It’s SUPER, I guess. And there is another version of SF4 on the way as we speak too.      

Many other franchises and companies do this for the sake of hardcore tournament players and, of course, money. What grinds my gears is how, unless money isn’t an issue for you, it makes the original game obsolete over time, so you might as well wait for the super ultimate game of the year complete edition or whatever. To pick on Capcom again, the long anticipated Marvel Vs Capcom 3 came out in 2011. It was a fun game but was extremely lacking on the content. Then just nine months later – NINE MONTHS – They release Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 (yeah, throwing the word ULTIMATE around again) with more characters and levels. You couldn’t even wait a year? Like the first MVC3 was just a demo of this Ultimate version? And it was still missing the four DLC characters that were released after the original game. You still had to download and pay for them. DLC has made it a guarantee that there will be some kind of second edition release of a game and not just for fighting games. So many games go crazy with add-on content with new characters, levels, and missions that you might as well wait till the Game of the Year edition to get everything in one neat bundle. But you’re not are you? You want that damn game when it comes out and play it with the rest of the world, right? It’s like when a big blockbuster movie comes out. You can’t wait to see it; you need to see it ASAP so you can talk about it with your friends! Or that’s how I feel anyway…

If you lack internet, you’re really screwed. You have to wait for those completed or ultimate versions of games to come around. Injustice is an awesome game but since its release there has been a ton of DLC with new characters for it. I’m sure by sometime next year there will be an ultimate version of Injustice. It would be nice if you could swap the original out for the updated releases at retailers for free but we all know that isn’t how the game is played. I got $5 for the trade-in of the original DOA5 for DOA5U. Not a great deal going towards an upgrade and it really isn’t all that much of an upgrade.  There is a free version of DOA5U called DOA Core Fighters available on PSN and Xbox Live. It’s basically a free demo of the game that you can pay into and download more fighters or the entire game. I’d rather just go buy the physical copy but that’s just me. This ‘free but pay in to get more’ strategy is actually what Microsoft is doing with the Killer Instinct reboot for the Xbox One. Will this become the new way to get fighting games? Time will tell.

As for DOA5 Ultimate, is it worth buying? If you do not already own the original, yes. That is a much harder call if you already own the original DOA5, especially if you’ve gotten all the post-release DLCs since last year. While Ultimate does offer more modes, characters, and other little extras, nothing about this version really adds to the overall gameplay. It’s still the fun, fast-paced, martial arts fighting that I loved about DOA5 but that’s about it. The 5 new fighters really don’t add much other than two more sexy girls for fanboys to gawk at. If I were to rate this, I’d give it an 8/10 which is the same as what I gave DOA5 last year so basically nothing has changed in the overall game quality. Ultimately, it’s your call if any of these new features make it worth upgrading your old DOA5 for this year’s model. Thanks for reading! Keep a look out for my upcoming retrospective on Dance Dance Revolution, some spooky Halloween related stuff in October, and the highly anticipated Batman: Arkham Origins.         

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Saints Row 4 Game Review

I originally had no plans to review this game but a friend of mine got me a gift card for my birthday and instructed me to use said gift card to get Saints Row 4 and review it.  So I guess I have to do it now. I should first start by saying that I have only played the first Saints Row game and even then it was for only 20 minutes. The other two games never really grabbed my attention since I’m not exactly a big fan of GTA style gangster games. Unless it’s something like Sleeping Dogs with a duel identify system and set in a different culture. That said, Saints Row 4 definitely grabbed my attention with the fact that you play as the President of the United States, who has super powers, and fights aliens. That might just be the best idea for a video game ever. For those who don’t know, Saints Row can be considered the rival franchise to the highly successful open world, crime series Grand Theft Auto. While it started out as an above average GTA clone, it gained its own identity with its crazy characters, over the top missions and story.  For their fourth outing, the 3rd Street Saints take on their hardest task yet: Running the White House and saving world. But is this presidential drive-by worth being elected to your gaming console of choice?

STORY:  The Third Street Saints have gone from low-level gang bangers, to crime bosses, to music icons, to super spies, and have finally landed in the White House with your character becoming the President of the United States. Now that’s what I call living the American dream. As your character walks around with your cabinet members, consisting of old gang members and Keith David, you head to a press meeting when suddenly the White House is attacked by aliens! Zinyak, the leader of the Zin Empire, has decided to abduct the brightest of the human race and kill the rest. One by one, members of your cabinet are snatched up by the aliens and after a failed attempt to beat up Zinyak, so is your character. You then find yourself in a simulated version of your old stomping grounds, Steelport, USA. You must save members of your crew and humanity for the ultimate test as the President and, more importantly, the leader of the Saints.
As you can tell, this story is crazy, over the top, and doesn’t take itself too seriously most of the time. This is a good thing because it makes story fun and hilarious to experience as this ridiculous tale unfolds. The game parodies many other video games and movies like Mass Effect, The Matrix, Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell, Armageddon, and countless others. You will catch witty references and funny parodies left and right throughout the game. The well written script is backed up by a great cast of characters. While I’m not familiar with them, most of the characters are given proper introductions. You also have missions and side missions to develop characters more as well as audio logs to find that are hidden around the game for even more incite. Even with no experience with the past games, I got a good sense of who these people were and enjoyed them. Zinyak, the leader of the aliens, makes for an excellent and amusing villain being cultured and seems to know more about human culture and art than the President. The Zin would be worthy of being on my list of Top10 Alien Invaders in Video Games.

Length wise, this game sits at a healthy 30+ hours but that depends if you do all the side missions and explore the simulated city. It’s probably shorter if you just blast through all the main missions but if you’re doing that, you’re missing one of the main aspects of the game. However, what really sets Saints Row 4 apart from its previous titles is in the gameplay.

GAMEPLAY: What stands out most about Saints Row 4 and what is a big game changer is the ability to get super powers. Within the first hour of the game you will get super jumping and super speed. You gain more and more throughout the game and they are extremely fun to use. It will make you feel like the entire Justice League combined. While these powers are very fun and become the core of the gameplay, they also make the game a little too easy. You become way too over powered way too quickly. You will almost always be able to get out of tight situations with no problem thanks to your powers. Also the powers make certain parts of the game obsolete. Vehicles and driving is a major part of these GTA style games but in Saints Row 4, there is almost no reason to use a car again after you get your powers. You run faster than any vehicle in the game so what’s the point? There is a lot of variation in vehicles and you can take them to shops to get completely customized but then again, what’s the point? Now I should bring up that you only have your powers inside the Matrix like simulation. In the real world, aka the space ship that you are on, you will not have these powers and there are some missions where your powers will be switched off in the simulation.

The ship acts as the home and work place for your team. You can talk to them and ‘romance’ them as a parody of Mass Effect’s relationship system. One thing that can get annoying is that characters will want you to come out of the simulation to come to talk to them each time you complete some kind of quest for them. There are points where if feels like you’re doing this several times in a row and it just feels time consuming and unnecessary when the reward can only be used inside the sim city. Why not just transfer it to me while I’m in the simulation? Like previous Saints games, if features a high degree of customization. The extensive character creator lets you make your character look like anything you want. It’s a lot of fun and I spent the first 30 minutes of my time with the game making my character. You can go to stores and buy clothes that have custom colors you can choose from. Your guns are all fully upgradeable and customizable. You can even make them look like weapons from sci-fi movies like Star Wars, Aliens, Firefly, and Star Trek. Speaking of which, the guns in the game are a lot of fun to use. My favorite being the proudly featured Dubstep Gun in which you can lay a path of destruction and death with dub dubs and wub wubs. The gunplay itself, however, is very shallow. There is no cover system and not much of a dodge mechanic but you won’t really need it when you can just speed or jump out of the way like Superman.  

There are lots of side missions and activities scattered throughout the game, most of which are fun. There is super racing, superhero fight club, mayhem destruction missions, Dr. Ginki’s telekinesis challenge, and many more. I’m sure everyone will find one to be their favorite. My least favorite was the hacking which you have to do if you want to unlock all the stores in the city. Speaking of the city, Saint’s fans might be a little disappointed in the fact that they are basically just revisiting Steelport from the previous game again instead of getting a new place to explore and I can see how that can be disappointing. On the upside, the super powers make the way you explore and move about the city differently. Sadly, Saints Row 4 is filled with many glitches. While a lot of them are harmless to the overall gameplay, there are some game breaking glitches that you may encounter. The most serious glitch I encountered causes an infinite loading screen halfway through a mission. I replayed the mission multiple times only to run into the same problem over and over. I even went back to the store and got the disc swapped out to see if it would make a difference. Nothing. Then I found out on a forum that you cannot use explosive weapons at all at the start of the mission or else it will cause that loading screen. This isn’t exclusive to one version of the game, it’s across all consoles. Not cool. Another glitch caused this object I was supposed to be guarding and moving to fall through the ground and disappear, leading me to have to restart the mission. I noticed these types of glitches picked up near the end of the game and I’ve heard about the game freezing on the last couple missions though the PC version is supposed to have fewer glitches and are more likely to see a patch sooner.

GRAPHICS & SOUND: If the best graphics are important to you, you’ll definitely want to go with the PC version of the game. I have the 360 version and it’s downright ugly at times. Even after installing it, it still have pop-in textures from time to time and other texture glitches like rippling walls, which I’ve never seen before. TO BE FAIR, some of these texture glitches could be on purpose since the majority of the game takes place inside a computer simulation and do increase as the game progresses. In that case, some of the graphics glitches work in the game’s favor as a kind of 4th wall joke. The character models look good though and I was impressed with the level of emotion shown on their faces, especially my character since she was a custom design.

The voice acting for SR4 is top notch and really brings the characters to life. The President has 7 different voices to choose from including Nolan North. Keith David plays the role he was born to play as Keith David. Natalie Lander does a great job as the Saint’s computer nerd Kinzie. Danielle Nicolet does a good job as both young and older Shaundi. And there are many more great voice actors on board with this game including Troy Baker who’s just in every game this year it seems. The music is filled with licensed music from multiple genres such as rock, hip-hop, dubstep, 80’s pop, 90’s grunge, classical, and many more. All of which can be listened to from the in game radio that has a playlist that can be edited to your liking. The game also has the best use of Stan Bush’s You Got the Touch since the 1986 Transformers movie.  

Overall, Saints Row 4 is a crazy game that lives up to the over the top nature that everyone has come to expect from the franchise. They have painted themselves into a corner with this game however. I mean, how do you top being a super hero and fighting aliens? The developers have said that this will be the last iteration of Saints Row as we know it so whatever Saints Row 5 will be called, it will most likely be a reboot of some kind. The game does have its share of problems and some might not like its complete deviation from crime/gangster gameplay but personally, that deviation is what made me interested in this title in the first place. If you want a serious open-world crime game, go with GTA5 which comes out in a couple weeks. Like I mentioned, you’ll probably want to go with the PC version of the game if you want the best graphics and performance, so feel free to give this review an 8/10 instead of a 7 if you’re going with the PC version.  Thanks for reading! I will not be covering Grand Theft Auto 5; however, my friend Grant will so be on the lookout his review of that highly anticipated game. Also look out for my overview of Dead Or Alive 5 Ultimate coming very soon.


-Super powers are a lot of fun to use
-Crazy and fun story with great characters
-Good length with lots to explore and do

-Many glitches including some game breaking infinite loading screens
-Super powers do make some aspects of the game obsolete
-Shallow gun play