Dead or Alive: Dimensions Reader Review
Let me begin by mentioning that I've been a fan of all previous Dead or Alive games, however I've never really paid attention to their plots. After playing through the Chronicles mode of DoA:Dimensions I have reached the conclusion that this was probably a good thing as I couldnt see myself coming back for more if I had.
Shoddy storyline aside Dimensions is a great entry to the series and Tecmos love letter to the last 15 years of development. Coming across as a kind of best of compilation in the vain of Mortal Kombat Trilogy or Street Fighter 2 Hyper Fighting. This means all your favourite characters and modes make an appearance, but is not to say that you've seen it all before. Tecmos have added several new additions to the game, a lot of which use 3DS exclusive features.
Basics first however, and it's pleasing to say that the key element of the game, the fighting, remains pretty much the same as it ever was, a punch, kick, guard and hold button system, weighed up like rock, paper, scissors with strikes beating throws, throws beating holds and holds beating strikes meaning a heavy focus on counters and timing. A new addition to the 3DS version is the combo list on the touch screen, allowing you to view the button commands or tap to activate them, due to the amount of moves listed this proves all but useless with no time to really look though the list, however purists would probably ignore it anyway. All of this runs smoothly on the 3DS, with character models striking each other with a nicely visceral feel. The DoA fighting system has always been devisive in my circles, people either love it or hate it. I would imagine that by the fifth fighting game in a franchise you will have some idea of what you think, so suffice to say that if you previously disliked it there's nothing here thats going to change your mind, and if you liked it there's no drastic changes that are going to ruin you enjoyment at this stage.
Feature wise, this game is pretty packed, as mentioned all your old favourites get an airing, arcade mode which allows you to play through incresingly difficult courses of opponents, survival, tag challenge which sees you pair up with a AI controlled teammate, free fight and training are all here. The final single player mode is a the aforementioned new addition of Chronicle mode. Basically a tutorial mode masquerading as a story mode, it consists of fights designed to teach you the DoA fighting system, chained together with some lengthy cut scenes summarising the plot up until now. While it's nice that the developers have put some more thought into training players than the usual maniquins in the holodeck fair, the mode is let down by the non sensical storyline and inconsistency in the cut scene quality. Some of these are fully animated, some are voiceovers on still scenes and others are simply FMV ripped directly from the older titles, making the already weak plot even harder to follow. New players and old players alike would be recommended to skip all cutscenes and just play the fights to learn skills and unlock the characters and costumes available through this mode.
On the multiplayer side of things you have local wi-fi play which I have not had a chance to play as I lack 3DS owning friends. For loners like me there is online play which allows you to square off against or tag team up with another player from either your region or the world. The online games I have played so far have all been plagued by slowdown and jerkiness, this may be due to my connection, although if it is an issue with the coding hopefully they can patch via spot pass in future, and while they are at it a rematch option would be nice as well.
Speaking of Spotpass the game is rich in 3DS features. Street pass will swap fight and style info with passing gamers and you can then fight them in the form of a throw down challenge. Spot pass downloads new items to the game via wi-fi hotspots, so far this has taken the form of Tecmo chosen throwdown challenges, although a whole week of free new costumes is planned (which is something Capcom may want to bear in mind), although the possibilities this mode brings to mind for this title and others in the future is promising. Elsewhere you can use your play coins to purchase new content which will be a random new costume or figurine for 10 coins a piece, which should give anyone else like me with a glut of these coins due to lack of title support a nice little head start. Showcase mode allows you to take 3D pictures of any of the 999 figurines you unlock throughout the game, you can angle the camera via gyroscope controls, these will then save to your 3DS photo gallery (be careful if travelling to Sweden soon though!), although you can only put one figure out at a time so it's fine if you want a sneaky shot of Kasumis cleavage, but not to coreograph a huge brawl.
Finaly the 3D itself, being a one on one fighter it has no real effect on the gameplay, which is either a blessing or a curse depending on your view of the 3DS. However it does look nice and run smoothly, and the tumbles from one of DoAs trademark multi levelled stages are quite satisfing with the added depth.
All in all, DoA: Dimensions is a nice package, with enough to keep you playing for a while if a fan of the fighting system. However it finds itself let down by some odd design choices and cheap production that, while not ruinous may put off some newer players.