Forwards, back, back
803SRP: £39.99"In a hypothetical world in which the online components and interface hitches of DoA 5 are fixed (hopefully shortly that’ll be the case), it’d exist as one of the best fighters of the year. As it stands however, you have two thirds of an excellent game - but with little reason to continue ploughing into the single player offerings outside of the aforementioned costume and title acquisition.
The story mode is brilliant and the gameplay additions in Team Ninja’s latest iteration are shrewd and well-implemented, but overall it’s a product that lacks the customisation options and smooth online integration of a Tekken Tag Tournament 2 or a Soul Calibur 5.
That’s a huge shame, and the lack of online functionality is a problem which I sincerely hope is resolved before players flock away from DoA 5’s servers. If it is fixed, I'll happily update the final score with an extra star. As it stands however, DoA 5 is a way short of its true online potential."
This was how our very own Manny wrapped up our original Dead or Alive 5 review, all of which remains relevant to this title; for a more detailed insight into the core of Dead or Alive 5 and indeed this "Ultimate" version you should check out his full review.
Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate is Team Ninja's attempt at answering those criticisms. Front and centre to this update are the improvements to the online match making and net code helping to make the game smoother than ever. In my play tests I can confirm I saw none of the disconnection messages, hanging during matches or strange Xbox Live prompts. The in-game experience was as they say like "butter". This helps to accentuate an already impressive fighting game whose rock-paper-scissors gameplay is both addictive, deep and quick to grasp hold of
Some gameplay tweaks have been added such as the Power Launcher which, similar to the Power Blow, can only be used when under 50% health and needs to be charged, but when executed sends your opponent high into the air just asking for a juggling combo to be unleashed. Team fight mode allows you to choose a team of up to 7 players with the first to defeat all of the opposing team's fighters winning the battle, leading to some strategic choices as you have to pick a team which suits your skills from the extended roster of fighters.
5 new characters are included this time round, Rachel and Momiji are drafted in from the Ninja Gaiden games, Leon and Ein are resurrected from earlier entries in the series and Jacky might be a familiar face to all the Virtua Fighter fans out there. They take the roster up to 29 fighters with more than enough variety and strategy for every fighting style.
Visually it continues to impress, with the dynamic arenas adding a lot of fun to the proceedings, it would have been nice to include a few more this time but instead they have gone deeper down the rabbit hole of costumes. Included here are the cat suits of the Kitty Pack, the bikini laden DOATEC Divas pack and many more which must be cringed at to be believed. At this point it's hard to tell whether Team Ninja is just appealing to teenage boys with these additions or is simply comprised of them.
Numerous other peripheral additions are thrown in, several new training modes have been added, allowing you to fine tune your combos and individual moves. Additional missions exist in the training mode for beginners, and the move details information has been expanded to give the hard core players even more in-depth information such as just how many frames a move takes to perform.
From there changes get both ever more incremental and less interesting, from new fighter grades and titles down to more selectable background music and customising the character ending movies - amending the costumes, hair styles and rather creepily...level of sweat.
It certainly makes for a long list of reading, but in this age of online patches and updates it still falls short of justifying a fully fledged retail version. Usually titles such as these include the full package of DLC; but not so here; if you want those schoolgirl or swimwear sets be prepared to get your wallet out.
The most fundamental error though lies in the compatibility, due to the changes in the net code and the new Power Launcher move, those with copies of the standard copy of Dead or Alive 5 will not be able to fight online against this newer version. This undoes all the good work the title accomplishes with the improved online experience. Whilst in-game it was indeed a fun and smooth experience, the low number of players made finding a match a chore. In order to ensure I spent less time looking at the spinning search icon than I did fighting opponents I had to simply widen my search parameter to any connection type, any region and any rank.
Fighting games live and breathe by their communities, it is especially important for new players to able to access opponents of equal skill in order to climb the daunting learning curve without getting so frustrated they leave altogether. Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate does exactly the opposite. The only players who will purchase this title over its now cheaper standard version are those already invested in the franchise; those who value the improved online aspect or really want to see Hitomi in a low cut maid's outfit. Thus the online pool, having already been diminished by excluding the existing player base, is frustratingly sparse and skewed towards the higher end of the skill grade.
Sitting and waiting for several minutes before being matched up with a seemingly super powered opponent is no fun, and quickly becomes tiresome. Which is a huge shame as the game is a blast to play in single player or locally offline and when you do find a well balanced online match it is as enjoyable as you'd expect it to be.
- Smooth online play
- Core experience remains solid
- Additional characters and modes
- Doesn't include all DLC
- Segregates player base
- Skewed skill level online
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate XBOX 360 Review
Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate is the blueprint for how not to do an "Ultimate" edition of any game, let alone an online fighting game. Almost none of the improvements here couldn't have been offered in a patch update for the original title, seamlessly upgrading and maintaining the existing community; perhaps for an acceptably nominal fee.
Instead Ultimate forces the player base to invest in a completely new version which only the most dedicated of followers will do; ensuring any newcomers have a less than optimal experience despite all the excellent improvements to the online infrastructure the developers have made. No amount of addtional characters and alternate costumes can bring it back from such a critical blow, leaving Dead or Alive 5 back where it started, give or take a few over-filled and undersized bikinis.
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