Dead or Alive: Dimensions First Impressions

We reacquaint ourselves with Kasumi and her friends, now fully 3D, in Team Ninja's latest fighting game.

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Dead or Alive: Dimensions
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Tecmo Koei’s big announcement at Nintendo’s 3DS event was the next iteration of its Dead or Alive series. Fighting fans will be pleased to know that it won’t be another spin-off game. Instead, it marks a return to the fast-paced fighting and unique characters the series is famed for, with the added plus of being in full stereoscopic 3D.

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Who's Making It

Team Ninja’s Dead or Alive series has been around since 1996, offering gamers a 3D fighting experience that combines a female-led cast with a unique counter system and fast combos. Though the series has splinted off into various genres, including volleyball, watersports, and even poker, it’s the core fighting games that have always been the most critically well received. The last of these was 2005’s Dead or Alive 4 on the Xbox 360, making Dimensions the first fighting outing for the series in six years.

What It Looks Like

Dimensions features a number of familiar characters, including fan-favorite Kasumi. They look much like their console counterparts, with detailed character models that show off their unique costumes and features. It’s a visually impressive game to look at, with smooth textures and a number of lighting effects used during combat. The environments have also received the same treatment as the characters, with real-time rendered backdrops that can be interacted with in a fight. Each arena also sports multiple levels, so you can throw your enemies off a bridge or through a wall to defeat them.

How It Uses 3D

Like many 3DS games, the 3D effect adds depth. It’s not used as subtly as in other titles, with three planes of depth clearly visible. The health bars lie on the highest plane, the characters in the middle, and the environments on the lowest. Dimensions also features a lot of elements that appear to stick out of the screen. These include K.O. messages that jump out at you when you complete a match, as well as a character's hands and legs that appear to be right in front of your nose when the character poses. Many of the explosions and a lot of the debris that flies around when you kick opponents also leap out of the screen, which is a nice effect, but can be a little distracting.

What You Do

There’s the usual Arcade mode to play through, which lets you pick from an assortment of characters and fight against numerous opponents in one-on-one battles. There are also multiple combos to learn, which usefully appear on the bottom screen, so you can easily see the commands you need to pull them off. Aside from Arcade mode, there’s also a story mode called Chronicle, which features a full narrative and cutscenes, though we weren’t able to see it in action.

How It Plays

The guard button and counter system that are a staple of the series return, allowing you to launch powerful counter attacks by pressing the guard button with a directional button. You can use either the analog stick or directional pad to control your character, so players can choose whichever they find most comfortable. Having the combos displayed on the bottom screen is a great touch, and we found we able to pull off some killer moves with ease. Also nice are the multiple levels to each arena, which let you launch insane-looking moves against your opponent. In one match, we were able to knock our opponent through a hole in a bridge, causing him to fall several stories and hit the floor with his back, where we finished him off with a punch to the face.

What We Say

Though the 3D effects were a little overwhelming at times, Dead or Alive: Dimensions looks promising. The fighting was fast, fluid, and accurate, and the level of graphical detail was impressive. Adding combo instructions to the bottom screen is a great idea, showing you a number of special moves that you might otherwise miss. Though we weren’t able to try it, the story-based Chronicle mode is an interesting addition to the standard Arcade mode and something we look forward to trying out at a later date.

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