Dead or Alive: Dimensions

In the world of handheld fighting games Sony have historically always had the upper hand with the PSP sporting the excellent Tekken: Dark Resurrection, serviceable versions of Darkstalkers, Street Fighter Alpha and Guilty Gear as well as some nice variations on the genre with the Dissidia series and Dreamcast Powerstone collection. The original DS had a few attempts but ultimately fell short. The 3DS has only been out a short time but it is fully representing on the fighting game front by launching with Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and following up with Dead or Alive: Dimensions.

So what do we have in Dead or Alive: Dimensions? I had assumed it was going to be a port of the Xbox 360 DOA4 and in a way it is, it looks very similar but there are quite a few differences. For starters they have done away with the individual character story modes in favour of an extended Chronicle mode that takes you through the history of the DoA universe using different fighters as you progress. I for one am a fan of this new trend, I have a terrible habit of choosing a character I know and sticking with them before trying out all my options. While the story is quite strange and makes little sense it is nonetheless charming and fully voice acted, a nice bit of fun between fights, even if the fights often have nothing to do with the scenes that flank them.

Chronicle mode also takes on the role of a tutorial for the various fighting mechanics in play. Before some fights a new system will be explained with lower screen text and on-screen prompts that overlay upper screen combat. A sample fight will play out with gameplay slowing and pausing to allow you to execute the required input at precisely the right time, it is nothing short of excellent and the perfect way to explain the system of counters, holds and critical hits that are so important to higher level play.

Arcade mode is presented as a series of courses that increase in difficulty but can be played with any character you have available, the game keeps track of your best performance and it’s a nice change from this mode’s more traditional version. Beyond this there there are the self explanatory survival, training and freeplay modes. Multiplayer can be played locally or via the internet and both work well, I didn’t experience a great deal of lag on any of the matches I played.

For 3DS special modes there is a StreetPass battle where you challenge CPU opponents based on who you have wandered close to in the street. And then there is the Showcase mode where you can take 3D photos of any character models you have unlocked, you’d think this would be ideal for a bit of pervy ninja up-skirt action but in reality it is a little fiddly, it does however do a good job of showcasing the console’s 3D and gyro sensor.

Once you have unlocked them all there are 25 characters in the roster, about half need unlocking but most come fairly easily through general play in story and arcade mode. There are no new characters to speak of as the cast has been taken from right across the series, despite having played most of the games I can’t say I recognised all of the fighters and it’s been so long since a game was released it feels pretty fresh. It’s worth mentioning that the stages feature the multilevel gameplay that the series is famous for. Pushing/kicking/punching someone off the edge of a stage will generally lead to them falling to a lower level, taking damage on the way, then having the fight continue in this new venue. It’s one of the things I love about Dead or Alive and it’s nice to see that it still works well.

Graphically the game looks on a par with DoA4, the last game in the series, and while that is not what I would call stunning it is pleasant enough with characters sometime looking a little like action figures. While the game is obviously in 3D, outside of some nice tricks used in the menus it doesn’t really add that much to the experience and there is little to say beyond, yes, it’s in 3D. There appears to be some new 2D artwork in the game that is used on the Vs. screens before a fight, it’s a shame this wasn’t made more of because from the little I saw of it it was quite stunning.

So it has loads of stuff to do, there are a good selection of fighters and you get to punch people off buildings and down the stairs, but how does it play? Well, I’ve saved the best to last. Dead or Alive games have always only four core buttons. Punch, Kick, Throw and Hold, in addition there are very few moves that require multiple directions followed by an attack button. So unlike the excellent, but slightly flawed, Super Street Fighter IV 3D what we have is a game system that can be accessed perfectly using just the four face buttons and your choice of D-Pad or Circle Pad. Combos come out easily, movement is responsive and I never felt I was being punished by hardware limitations. Everything works as expected and the game is all the more enjoyable for it.







One response to “Dead or Alive: Dimensions”

  1. arc14716 avatar

    Not a big fan of the Dead or Alive series, but reading this review makes me kind of curious to check out this game, if I owned a 3DS.

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