Third time's the...same?
"If at first you don't succeed..." is an interesting business model, especially considering that Dead or Alive 5 wasn't really a "failure," per se. However, try, try again Team Ninja did, and we are now treated to a third version of this particular entry in the franchise.
When it all boils down to it, does Ultimate really make that big of a difference?
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Released: September 3, 2013
I'm having the strangest feeling of déjà vu. I feel as though I already reviewed this game. Oh wait -- I did. Twice. If you want to know the particular ins and outs of the title, go ahead and check out either of those reviews. I'll wait.
Are you done? Okay, good. Now, when it comes to Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate and the core gameplay mechanics, not much has changed in that respect. You still have the same structure where strikes beat throws, holds beat strikes, rock beats scissors, and so on. The story mode remains the same as well, but as with DOA5+ on Vita, the tutorial has been removed and placed in its own separate section of the game.
The most obvious change for Ultimate is the addition of five new fighters, bringing the roster up to 29 -- the largest in DOA history. These include Jacky (joining Akira, Sarah and Pai from Virtua Fighter), Momji and Rachel (from Ninja Gaiden), and fan favorites Ein and Leon are back from Dead or Alive 4. There are also five new stages to battle in, including the Sky High arena which utilizes a power blow-triggered Danger Zone with a giant stone Buddha.
Speaking of power blows, those aren't the only crunch-time special attacks anymore. There are now power launchers, specific to each character that comically boost your opponent into the air for insane juggles. While they don't offer as much damage as a power blow will, they're fun to use in stages that don't have a Danger Zone feature to keep that launch aesthetic.
As mentioned before, the tutorial is now its own separate affair, excised from the story mode. There are also additional components to the tutorials, such as a Combo Challenge mode to help refine your beatdowns. There's a new Survival mode, where you're pitted against numerous foes one at a time until your health is completely depleted, with no load times in between fights. Additionally, every fight mode includes the option for solo or tag-team play again, a feature that was removed from DOA5+.
Outside of that, you have your standard cosmetic additions such as new titles, hairstyles, victory animations, fight entrances, and of course, the feature that Ultimate will be most known for: more costumes! Yes, I know we've all been clamoring for that. Sad thing is, while many are unlockable, still more are available only as a download.
In fact, if you want all the costumes, you can buy a package that includes everything -- for the same price as the game itself. That's right. $39.99 for fake clothing. For the pervy-est among you, the new photo section called Movies allows you to select the cutscene and level of sweat on your character, then snap pics as you rotate around them. You know, because you can.
After checking the label to make sure this wasn't by Capcom, I'd have to say I wasn't really surprised with how Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate turned out. It adds a bunch of cosmetic features, one or two really worthwhile modes, a silly new move, and still doesn't include all of the DLC.
However, as far as the Ultimate version of the game goes, at least the title is right. This is the Ultimate DOA5, and if you're a fan of the series, this is the best version to own.