Wednesday, March 4, 2015

'DOA5: Last Round' PS4 Impressions (Patch 1.02)

Dead or Alive is, and always will be one of the more unique 3D fighters out there. It utilizes a simple button layout, and combat system that is both easy to pick up, and difficult to master. Veteran players of the series will know exactly what I speak of. From it's early beginnings to the iterations of late the series continues to try to improve upon it's in-game, and out of game offerings. You'll find an upgrade to the visuals, more characters to play as, and plenty of sexy new DLC costumes to throw your hard earned money at. DOA5: Last Round, in particular aims to be the ultimate version of a game that began as a free-to-play model on the Playstation 3, and Xbox 360 consoles earlier in 2013/2014. In "DOA5: Last Round" you'll find an all inclusive roster of characters, an entirely separate tutorial mode, and some extra costumes that weren't initially obtainable outside of a DLC purchase. While the graphics are definitely a step above what last-gen offered with the new additions included in the mix you will still find that the game suffers from some old, and newer problems ...

In the way of good you will find that the PS4 HD upgrade of 'DOA5: Last Round' looks breathtakingly surreal. The girls of DOA, and all their naughty bits are of a superior female form this time around. Everything from the character's breathing, their sweat, and the movement of their make believe muscle/fatty structures helps to make the game seem more photo-realistic in delivery. For all you pervs out there there is indeed some semi-realistic breast physics involved. As far as new visuals are concerned nothing is really different outside of the inclusion of the new male character known as Radou, and the female newcomer named "Konoha". Of course you do get to oogle at the petite Mary rose (perverts), the Kasumi clone 'Phase 4', and the angelic Tengu princess "Nyotengu" for no extra cost.

Things that are different in DOA5LR include the brand new tutorial mode, and the exclusion of the original tutorial that was mixed into the 'Story' mode playthrough. The tutorial mode which can be found in it's respective area via the main menu system is more akin to what you'd find in a newer Arc System Works, or Aksys Games fighter. Guilty Gear Xrd SIGN comes to mind. In the separate tutorial you will begin by learning the basics such as character movement, and button functions, and will gradually move into the more strategic fighting game setups. Of course combos, and advanced combos are a part of the lengthy, and very in-depth tutorial as well. You can also forget about having to mind the story elements while learning the ropes of what the tutorial has to teach you as you will be honing your skills against a CPU dummy that is programmed to do what needs to be done in each step of the tutorial process without the inclusion of character/plot interactions.

Issues, and problems that plagued the early build of the new-gen port, and still continue to do so are limited to mainly freezing bugs, and actual offline gameplay. When it comes down to the freezing glitches that happened for various programming related reasons you will find that in patch 1.02 the game still wants to hesitate in screen progression. I always encountered this issue at the end of an 'Arcade' mode playthrough after completing said playthrough. The ending score would pop-up, and despite me pressing the required "X" button to get back to my available menu options it would not register, and require additional button presses. As of the 1.02 patch the score screen still wants to hesitate in reading my button press, but thankfully does not freeze up, and force me to dashboard boot in order to continue playing the game.

As far as the "Gameplay" issues I speak of go I've had this set of complaints on mind since the introduction of the free-to-play version of DOA5, and they mostly tie-in with the game's AI/CPU construct. In an 'Arcade' mode playthrough of DOA5LR you will find as I did that the CPU opponents seem to be designed to read button presses, and act on said button presses with ridiculous precision. In fact I'd go as far as saying that each progressive difficulty level (Rookie - Legend) in the game is only difficult due to this unfair CPU build. Imagine for a second that you are playing against a human opponent locally, and the match is counting down to it's start. As the timer counts down each human player is guessing in their mind how the other will attack, or defend first, but have no clue at all as to how it will go down until it actually does. The percentage of guessing that first attack right, and countering, or beating the other player to the punch is slim to none in a human versus human setting. Unless you are some sort of psychic it's just not reasonable that you'd be able to guess what the other player was going to do 90% of the time. It's in situations like the the CPU versus human player ones where the CPU button reading is more evident. Most of the time (90%) the CPU character in DOA5-LR will counter whatever you do when the initial match countdown is done. This includes holding, countering, and sometimes evading.

To add salt to the virtual wound the CPU opponent will continue to act, and react throughout all the rounds of a match in a way that is indicative of an AI construct built around reading button presses. In a gradually increasing selection of difficulty settings this only serves to make the fights like mirror matches (You versus You) in which the CPU knows what you're going to do when you do it, and in no way gives you a fight that is as realistic in delivery as one played against a human opponent. I personally feel as if Koei Tecmo chose the easy way out in their construction of the 'Arcade' AI, and did not make it so that the CPU opponent could strategically choose actions, and reactions based on the prior actions, and reactions of the human player. There's a big difference from a CPU opponent that reacts immediately to button presses, and one that thinks on it's own based on an embedded selection of countermeasures, and well thought out actions.

Is the game bad, or good? Well, that all depends on how you like your fighters. DOA5LR does do good to offer the gamer more bang for their buck. That's a given. With the $40 price tag you get an all inclusive roster, some extra costumes, a new tutorial mode that is by far the best the series has ever seen, and the noticeable HD graphics upgrade. On the flip side it is not the perfect fighting game experience, yet. The online is about as laggy as it was in the last-gen standings only with a slightly less influential hit to online match outcomes. The offline, as I previously mentioned is still slightly plagued by freezing/hesitating issues, and the ever abusive AI construct. With the good, and the bad weighed I think $40 isn't too bad for what you get considering the fact that Koei Tecmo has been dedicated to listening to gamers, and fixing the issues with applied patches. With that being said this is one of those fighting games best played with friends, locally though.

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