Monday, August 25, 2014

Dead Or Alive: Dimensions

So, for the past several weeks, I've been working on a rather big move to a new place.  Packing up boxes, the move itself, and then emptying boxes again.  It's a stressful amount of work, and sadly the blog had to take a distant back seat to everything else I tried to get done.

However, I'm a bit more settled in now, so I think it's time we bring this project back up and resume writing things that matter to, if nobody else, myself.

Let's start with my least favorite fighting game franchise of all time, Dead Or Alive.

People who have read this blog for a while know that while I'm probably the biggest fan of the movie there is, at least two of their games deserve a Special Hell.  I can't really bring myself to buy any of the other games at full price, which is why, when it became dirt cheap during a massive sale, I picked up Dead or Alive 5 in an attempt to actually be able to describe the combat and see if the movie story connects at all to the game story.

I was hopelessly lost in two minutes, since characters just seemed to randomly pop up in locations around the world and demand to fight with other people who had no business being in that part of the world.

Finally, in desperation to be able to do one game, I found Dead Or Alive: Dimensions, which promised to go through the history of the Dead or Alive 1-4 in five chapters.

Having now played all five chapters I've come to the following conclusions:

1)  This universe is insane.
2)  Ninjas are really not worth the trouble.
3) Some of the characters are actually rather interesting.  I actually really like Helena.

The problem is that there's twenty-five characters trying to complete a story that spans four games, so often you'll have strange scenes with no context at all.  I remember one scene involved a guy holding a woman in the desert.  I believe she was dying, and she reaches up to touch his face while saying "the man I love is the strongest man in the world."  I have no idea who they were, and I'm not sure they ever showed up in the game again.

Combat takes on a very "rock, paper, scissors" feel, as kicks, throws, and punches are all weak against one of the other types and strong against the other.  Plus, there's a block/counter button which seems to work sometimes, and other times just leaves you standing there like the worst attempt at "jazz hands" as someone punches you in the face.

In many instances, punches to the crotch were the last blow before KO.

Now, there is one helpful bit in the game, and that's the glossary that pops up in the bottom during cut scenes with helpful details about things like ninja clan punishments, character identities and relationships, and other basic facts about the DOA universe.

The glossary also has handy definitions such as "Commodities" which are "fungible goods."  I had no idea the world of business played a key role this series.  Could someone tell me if Wolf Of Wall Street had an extensive kung-fu battle in it?

The game's AI isn't too terribly bright, though.  There were many battles through the game that I won simply by swirling the control stick around madly and mashing the same button.  I won a few rounds without even looking at the screen.  I don't know who I fought or how I won, but I still won.  I only lost one fight, and that's because I tried to get clever with combos and counters and wound up just standing there waving my arms around until someone kicked me off of a balcony.  I deserved it.

So, how does the game do at changing my attitude towards the game series as a whole?  Well, seeing as it's the first DOA game rated "T" specifically because they toned down the detail and gratuitousness of the girls in the game, I need to give it credit for showing a bit of good taste.  On the other hand, the game's main character does spend most of her time running around, jumping, and kicking while wearing a pair of underwear that ties together around her thighs.

Second only to Naruto for "least practical ninja costume."
On the whole, I had a bit of fun playing game, and it did change my opinion on a few characters (Zack is still annoying as hell, Ayane is somehow both really interesting and really obnoxious, Hitomi is adorable, and Tengu is a really stupid villain), but I still left the series just as (if not more so) confused than I already was.  Why did Christie try to assassinate Helena when she was younger (oh, spoiler alert)?  Who thought cloning ninjas would be a great idea in a world where trained mercenaries are able to hold their own?  Hell, a karate student can hold her own against a master ninja in the game.  Why does the guy from Ninja Gaiden not just take care of everything himself?  He's the only one there that I've seen slice through solid metal with his sword.  Why can't Ayane forgive Kasumi since Kasumi only left to get back their brother who Ayane dotes on in a way that's almost uncomfortable for a sibling to do?  Who the hell is Brad Wong?

If you want to get your feet wet in the DOA universe I suppose you could do a lot worse (see the above link), but don't expect to be an expert on the series by any means.  While it has some really gorgeous cut sc- OH!

I almost forgot.  There's a LOT of story interspersed with a few fights early toward the game.  I started playing, and I swear I went over an hour with only two brief fights happening before it jumped to cut scene after cut scene after cut scene as it tried to set up a huge ninja drama.

Anyway, it has some gorgeous cut scenes, the character designs are well, and while the combat can be ridiculously easy, there is a solid attempt to put some effort into advanced play.  Plus, man, 25 characters is pretty impressive, even if two of them are palate swaps of each other.

If I did a rating out of ten, I might give it a six.  It has dialogue that hits with all the impact of an old fish across the face, characters you really don't have any reason to care about (looking at you, Kokoro and Eliot), and it jumps around in story more often than an audio book copy of Memento set to "shuffle" mode.  I don't feel as unclean playing it, b-

What's that?

Oh, they have downloadable costumes.  Never mind, there's that creep factor coming back again.  I think I'll be taking this game back to the shop soon.

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