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.
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.