Sunday, 2 October 2011

DOA 5 TGS 2011 Announcement: Trailer Analysis

Seeing as I recently wrote a piece titled " The De-evolution of the 3D Fighting Genre ", I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Dead or Alive 5, (developed by Team Ninja and published by Tecmo Koei) was announced at TGS 2011 for the PS3 and XBOX 360 (currently pinned down for a 2012 release). For those of you who read the aforementioned piece, I expressed a few worries in relation to the state of the 3-D fighting genre and even briefly spoke about the Dead or Alive series. The exact quote from the piece is as follows: 

"And as for the Dead or Alive series ? I reserve my Judgement till I hear an announcement with regards to the rumored 5th installment. But I personally went far away from the Dead or alive series due to the lack of distinctive move sets, and over reliance on a counter system (that got boring quickly). The most accurate description of  the Dead or Alive series is a " highly advanced poke-fest ". I hope the fighting system gets a complete overhaul when and if the 5th installment finally gets released on consoles ". 

That might sound a bit harsh, but I can confidently back up that statement considering I'm a huge 3-D fighting game fan and have followed and played just about every 3-D fighting game there is on home consoles and in the arcades. At one point, I was a huge DOA fan too . . .

Fans of the DOA series will agree that ever since the release of DOA2 and DOA2: Hardcore on the PS2 in 2000, this is the first time a DOA game will grace a home console apart from the XBOX and XBOX 360 (this excludes handheld consoles ofcourse). Part of this is down to Tomonobu Itagaki's departure from team Ninja, and the fact that Yosuke Hayashi is not a secret undercover agent working for Microsoft. Tomonobu Itagaki consistently gave the PS2 and PS3 the cold shoulder, and it seems Hayashi doesn't share the same view. 

After watching the TGS 2011 trailer, I came away with mixed feelings. I'll divide these opinions under good and bad headings. Although it is unfair to judge the whole game based on this short pre-alpha trailer, you can at least have a sense of direction and extrapolate where the game is headed.

Here's the trailer:

Very impressive indeed, but here are my thoughts:

The Good

1) The attention to character detail is rather impressive. With such visuals, DOA5 will comfortably compete with and even surpass Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Soul Calibur 5 and Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown graphically. Please take into account this is the pre-alpha version. Just imagine how the finished product will look . . . Exactly. With such visuals, DOA5 is poised to be a graphically monstrous game.

2) I really like how Team Ninja have made modifications to Hayate's default appearance. Seeing as he is my favourite character from the series, I can safely say Hayate looks even " sicker " and battle ready than ever before. I look forward to seeing the modifications that have been made to the other characters (if any).

3) From the looks of things, Team Ninja are placing emphasis on destructible environments and highly interactive environments with movable and deform-able environmental objects. This is something which if done well, could set DOA5 apart from the competition. If the environment Interaction was completely random in nature (not scripted physics), it would certainly make fights unpredictable. And yes, that particular arena in the trailer looked beautiful. 

4) I have always loved the side-stepping/evasion in the Virtua Fighter series. Although it seems as though you can sidestep in DOA5, no 3-D game (so far) has successfully implemented evasion and side stepping as effectively as the Virtua Fighter series. It will be extremely interesting to see how Team Ninja can make side stepping/side walking/evasion effective in DOA5.

5) The arena demonstrated in the pre-alpha trailer seemed rather huge. I really like this. Huge arena's are always welcome and can always provide some breathing space for less experienced players. Im not saying all arena's should be of that size, but huge arena's are always welcome. 

The Bad

1) One thing I noticed in the trailer was the presence of something that put me off the DOA series: lack of distinctive move sets and how things eventually boil down to a counter and advanced poking and button mashing fest. It was nice seeing the Izuna drop, but Team Ninja need to realize the fact that players need to be able to define their characters past moves that look lackluster. Put players in control of the moves, and truly amazing fights will surface. Aside from the Izuna drop, all I saw was two characters hitting each other in a rather boring manner. The moves didn't seem definite and recognizable. If DOA5 is serious about competing in the 3-D fighting game arena, Team Ninja need to completely overhaul every single characters move sets. Make them meaningful! This will add an incredible amount of depth to a game that has the potential to rival Tekken and Virtua Fighter. Boring moves and mechanics lead to boring fights. 

I am certainly keen on DOA5, but I seriously hope Team Ninja consider the problems the DOA series have always had and make the necessary changes to ensure DOA5 is a meaningful, deep and interesting 3-D fighting game. It has the potential to be Grade A material, and I sincerely hope we don't see a 'DeJaVu' with DOA5. 

With all that's been said, I wish Team Ninja the best of Luck!

What are your thoughts ?

Many thanks

Shadow Master