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To Quote The 5 Alive Dodo "I'M ALIIIIVVE!!!"
on 19 September 2011
Ever since I played and reviewed Dead Or Alive on the PSone, I've developed somewhat of an interest in Tecmo's beat-'em-up creation. Partially because it's a very good smack-'em-in-the-face series, and partially because fighting with the female characters is the closest I'll ever get to "pulling" in my life time. With the Kasumi marriage reference from my DOA review still wafting around the nasal passages of my Asperger Syndrome affected brain, I've decided to take a look at Dead Or Alive: Dimensions on the Nintendo 3DS.
Dimensions is chock full of options. There are 25 fighters in this game; with eight of them available from the start, including the likes of Kasumi and Zack. You can unlock the others as you play the game. There are several modes that'll keep you occupied until Hell's Kitchen's Elise Wims finally realizes her cooking and attitude sucks (that is to say: a very long time). The modes include Arcade, which puts you in a series of matches that gradually get tougher as you go along; and Survival, in which you must survive an onslaught of aggressive opposition, starting out at 10 fights before working your way up to 100.
The main event of the evening is the Chronicle mode. This is the game's story mode, which involves a company called DOATEC, a series of fighting tournaments, and numerous fighters wanting in on the tournaments for one reason or another. The story mainly revolves around the Ninja characters of Kasumi, Ryu, Ayane and Hayate. Is it epic? Is it riveting? Is it Oscar-winning and capable of making Ayane cry tears of joy and say "You like me! You really like me!" during her award acceptance speech? Hardly. But the gameplay is fantastic, and that's all that really matters to the hardcore beat-'em-up fan.
As you watch the action on the top screen, the moves list for your chosen character is displayed on the touch screen at the bottom. This is ideal as you can quickly take a glance at the list before attempting certain attacks on your opponent. But that's not all. Whip out your 3DS stylus and you can scroll through the list and give your fighter commands by merely tapping the on-screen options. It works. I've managed to win a couple of fights with this method. Having said that though, the stylus option is a little gimmicky, and if you are playing the game on harder difficulty levels you'll be better off sticking with the old-fashioned button presses.
The environments are a joy to fight in, with each of them offering different scenery to admire. Whitewater Vale has luscious trees and realistic water and cliff edges; The White Storm has tonnes of snow, both on the ground and blowing around in the air; and Kyoto In Bloom is an old-skool Japanese setting with a spring time look about it. Not only that, but the fights can spread over two and sometimes even three floors. For example: the Lorelei stage takes place on a palace balcony, and it's possible to knock your opponent over the balcony and down onto a walkway below. The long falls can cause damage to the fighters, and it provides more in the way of strategic fighting as you try to manoeuvre your opponent into the correct positions before unleashing an eight-move combo.
All of this is presented with beautiful graphics. Everything flows so smoothly, and the fighters themselves are presented in realistic detail, from the strands of hair on their heads to the minor markings on their footwear. And what about the 3D stuff? Well in DOA:D I've finally found a game in which the 3D image feature actually works well. Both the environments and the fighters really feel alive, and during the fighters' poses before and after matches, their arms and fists look like they're coming out of the screen. I'm really impressed with it.
Also embedded amongst the options we have Showcase. As you play through the different game modes you'll unlock figurines of DOA characters. Those figurines can be viewed in Showcase where you can take pictures of them. You can rotate the camera a bit; zoom in and out; then once you're happy with things you can snap away. Photos can be taken in 2D and 3D, and can then be viewed in the 3D Photo Album. It's all rather pointless, but if you're a budding photographer who wants to take a few close-up snaps of Kasumi's face and "assets" then this mode is just right for you. Actually, come to think of it...maybe it's not so pointless after all!
DOA:D does have a couple of down points. The voice acting is a mixed bag. Ryu is supposed to be 23, yet he sounds nearer 53 and is not as immature as I thought he might be. Meanwhile, Tina looks and sounds like Britney Spears during her 2007 public meltdown. On the plus side, Gen-Fu's voice is about right for an old Chinese man, as is the voice of the Russian powerhouse, Bayman; and hip DJ Zack just sounds hilarious, especially when he wins a fight and says "Congratulations to me."
One mode I was disappointed with was the Tag Challenge mode. The idea here is that you select two fighters to battle against the opposition. One fights, the other sits out, and you can tag into the match by pressing the Hold (Y) button. It's great in theory, but the execution is dodgy at best. The problem is your partner is computer controlled and can be as trigger happy as a coffee addicted bank robber. Even if you only take a couple of weak punches to the head, your partner will automatically tag their self in and mess up any plans you had of dealing with your opponents. This is especially problematic when your partner is low on health and you really need to let them have a rest, and it can lead to some humiliating defeats.
Despite the awkward Tag Challenge mode, there's a lot about Dead Or Alive: Dimensions that I simply love. The fantastic graphics; the gameplay that's easy to get to grips with; the 2-Player internet play that allows you to fight against anyone in the world; and Helena's French accent has left me in need of a really cold shower. The game deserves 5-Stars and is an essential purchase for the 3DS.