Less Jiggle and More Juggle
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the Dead or Alive series isn’t all about ladies in bikinis and scandalous dating sims. Since the debut of the “Xtreme” series—and the subsequent PSP games that didn’t feature anything except gift-giving and picture-taking—it has been kind of hard to see the ladies of DOA as anything more than sexy avatars. However, Dead or Alive Dimensions brings the series back to what made it so famous in the first place: excellent fighting. DOA dimensions keeps the original series’ format, even down to the reaction and counter-based battle system, but still manages to feel fresh and new on the 3DS.
When I first started up DOA Dimensions, I was instantly reminded of Super Street Fighter IV, simply because of the amount of content in the game. The main menu offers you a ridiculous amount of things to do, and it’s a little overwhelming at first. In fact, as soon as I started up the game, I was notified that I had already been challenged to a figure battle via Streetpass.
If you’ve never played a “real” DOA game before, or if you’re just feeling a little rusty, the best place to start is the story mode. But don’t expect a grand narrative. Though there are long cutscenes and plenty of talking, I can honestly say I couldn’t make heads nor tails of the plot. There’s some ninja family and some double-crossing and a militaristic group—it’s all really just a mess. If you expect a cohesive story like you might find in Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, you just won’t get it.
However, what the story mode does well is introduce you to DOA’s fighting mechanics. The first several battles serve as an interactive tutorial that teaches you everything from landing combos to executing throws and counter-attacks. The basis of DOA’s battle system is the counterattack system, which relies on your ability to anticipate attacks as they happen. It sounds a little bit complex, but trust me, you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.
The battle system presents itself fairly easily in DOA’s story mode, and you’ll pick up on the simple controls right away. However, if you aren’t a fast button-masher, DOA: Dimensions has a unique move list feature that allows you to see your move roster on the bottom screen and execute any of the moves (even high level combos, juggles, and grab attacks) just by tapping it on the screen. This is a great tool to help beginners get through early fights and learn button combinations. However, tapping the attacks is a little too slow for practical use in more difficult modes or in the online arena.
Once you have conquered the basics and are comfortable with the battle system, the game definitely opens up. If you want to have a simple fighting match against the computer, you can hop into the Arcade mode. If you want something a bit more challenging, you can climb the stage ladder in Survival mode. Feeling friendly? There’s a TAG battle mode that lets you team up with friends close by. Want to get to know the ladies of DOA a little better? There’s a picture mode (you knew they had to include that one). There’s also a figurine mode that lets you appoint specific fighters and customize them to battle those you meet using the Streetpass system. This mode is especially cool and is just as addictive in DOA as it was in Super Street Fighter IV.
There’s no shortage of stuff to do in DOA Dimensions, and that’s before you even take the game online. DOA Dimensions has quite the compelling online offering, which features a lobby system where players can join single matches or tournaments at will. As I started up the online mode, I immediately created a lobby and was paired with another player within seconds. However, before the match even got started, another person joined the lobby and was ready to challenge the loser of the current battle. There is no noticeable lag in the online mode, and matchmaking is incredibly fast. Playing DOA Dimensions online is definitely the most rewarding part of the game, and even in its first week of release, there already seems to be a thriving online community.
Visually, DOA Dimensions looks superb. The game features lightning-fast animations. Story mode cutscenes and battles look great in both 2D and 3D. The 3D effect doesn’t add too much to the visuals, and aside from a few “gimmick” shots during the story mode, you won’t really miss a whole lot if you prefer playing in 2D. However, if you crank up the 3D slider, you’ll definitely get more from the epic stages that feature plenty of layers and moving parts. Though I was initially impressed by the detail put into the game’s character models, I really came to appreciate the stages. The level design was executed extremely well, especially with the 3D effect enabled.
The only thing that really does not work well in DOA Dimensions is the audio. Though the background music is fairly generic and inoffensive, the voiceovers are absolutely awful. Matching the words to characters mouths is always a challenge in localized games—I understand that you can’t get it right 100% of the time—but this game ends up looking like a cheap Kung-Fu movie much of the time, and the result is not as funny as you might think. The voiceovers themselves are also really bad. They sound extremely wooden and have a weird unsure inflection. It’s almost as if the voice actors had no clue what they were saying and just went through the motions when recording their lines. Sure, the story doesn’t really make sense to me, but I would hope that someone would at least explain the overall plot to the voice actors.
DOA Dimensions is a great game on the 3DS. While it’s easy to approach portable fighters with some trepidation, the 3DS has thus far proven to be an excellent system for them. If you are tired of Super Street Fighter IV or have just missed the lovely ladies of the DOA universe, Dimensions is a great fighter. It’s certainly the best DOA game to come down the pipe in several years. Even if you haven’t played a DOA game before, Dimensions does a great job of introducing its battle system and making it feel approachable without dumbing it down.
You can definitely tell that the focus of DOA Dimensions is back on the fighting and less on the breast physics, which makes this a welcome return to form. Although there are still plenty of jiggles in the game, don’t be surprised if you are more focused on the juggles, combos, and throws in DOA Dimensions than you are on the sexy ladies.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.2 Graphics
In-game graphics and cutscenes look beautiful. 3D looks nice and is not over-used. 3.9 Control
Button-based controls work well, but touchscreen controls are a little too slow to be practical. 2.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Background music is satisfactory, but voiceovers are straight-up terrible. 4.4 Play Value
With a plethora of modes and an engaging online experience, DOA: Dimensions has lasting value for sure. 4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|