Friday, October 18, 2013

Archview #60: Dead or Alive Dimensions

 Officially done with all 3DS fighting games, the ones that reached America anyways.
 Dead or Alive, one of the most sexually gratuitous fighting game series returns, for the first time, on a Nintendo Console. It's biggest draw is that it's basically a compilation of sorts, as it tells the story from DoA 1 to 4, without having a story of it's own. It also has every character and boss from previous entries, as well as stages that come from previous games.
 Usually I like to talk about a game's story or setting on the second paragraph, thing is... the story is really bad. The game's story mode is named Chronicle and it consists on 5 different chapters. Chapters 1 to 4 deal with each DoA game, while the 5th one is focused on Helena, who knows why. It's not like her chapter deepens the story or anything, it's just... there. While the game is touted as chronicling the stories of the games, it's only half right. It does follow the story, but from the point of view of the ninjas. You'll basically play as Kasumi, Ryu, Hayate and Ayane. Even weirder, there are some cutscenes featuring the other characters every now and then, but they seem a bit randomish and out of place, specially if you are new to the series. Even funnier, sometimes you'll have to fight various characters, with no explanation as to why or how they even got there. The story is really stupid, it makes sense though, but it's just really, really dumb. The cutscenes are also a mixed bag, every now and then, the cutscenes will stop animating, and just feature audio over the motionless characters, they don't even move their mouths!. This quickly becomes jarring and annoying, as a cutscene may go from animated to still from scene to scene.
 Besides the awful story mode, you also get Arcade Mode, in which you select from 6 courses trying to get the best time, Tag Challenge that tasks you and a CPU partner with defeating buffed up characters, Survival mode, Wireless mode and Free Versus. There's also a gallery in which you can take pictures of various "figures" that you randomly collect as you play. There are plenty of unlockables, characters, stages and costumes which is really nice.
 Gameplay is the usual DoA triangle of counters: Strikes beat throws, throws beat hold and holds beat strikes. As with most 3D fighters, instead of special moves, you have attack strings. Every attack string is displayed on the bottom screen, and by touching it you can execute it on the spot. The dynamic camera is really satisfying, it gradually zooms in as your combo gets longer, or when you execute powerful moves, it adds a lot of flavor to the game, whithout getting in the way of the player. While the game runs very smoothly, turning on the 3D has a heavy impact on the FPS, so be warned.
 This, being a Dead or Alive game, has fantastic graphics. Animation is smooth, characters are detailed and backgrounds are very pretty. Music is made up from familiar tunes, and honestly, I still like them. Sound effects are satisfying, but the voice acting is awful. I gave up on the english dub midway through chronicle mode, and while the Japanese audio isn't all that good, at least it's more tolerable. All in all, a very appealing package.
 While Tekken is still my jam, Dead or Alive Dimensions is one of the better 3DS fighting games, it's very intuitive and looks really good, instantly lowering the entry barrier from fighters like Tekken or Blazblue, and there's also plenty of stuff to unlock and do, definitely a solid choice, if you don't mind the excessive fanservice and pandering the game provides.
8 out of 10.

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