Dead or Alive 5 Last Round has not had the smoothest road in coming to PC. The announcement itself? Sure, great! Dead or Alive 5 is coming to PC! Celebrations all round!
Then came the news that the PC version would lack online multiplayer until sometime after launch. And then came the news that the PC version would actually be inferior to the PlayStation 4 version, with a pair of missing stages, no “soft engine” for the fighters’ skins, and PS3-quality particle effects. We do get PS4 shadows and 4K resolution support, but… well, it’s hard not to cringe at a trimmed-down port for what is arguably the most powerful gaming platform on the planet.
With the surprisingly svelte 6GB install out of the way, let’s fire it up and take a look.
First things first: all graphics options are set up through a separate config tool, outside of the game itself. You can see these here:
Those, incidentally, are the default settings; the alternate options are as follows.
You can opt for Windowed or Full-Screen (although no Windowed Full-Screen). Resolution spans the gamut from 1024×768 right the way up to 3840×2160, although there are a few missing; you’re out of luck if you want to run 1280×1024 or 2560×1024. It does look like you can hack your way around this, but it’s a pain in the arse that it’s not supported out of the digital box.
This was about the point I started panicking and having Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2 related flashbacks, because those games are sort of like the Port Impressions version of Vietnam and I still wake up in tears. The latter game also had a relatively slim set of options (albeit better than the complete lack of options from the former), but ran like a dog with no legs. Is this the fate that Dead or Alive 5 Last Round has in store for me?
For the record, I’m running this on an i7-3820 with 16GB RAM and what I think is a 2GB GeForce GTX 670. So, with FRAPS running in the background to measure the framerate, let’s fire it up.
And, uh… it runs fine. Perfectly, in fact. I started out on 2048×2048 shadow resolution because I feared the worst, but after one round I bumped it up to 4096×4096, and in bouts, Dead or Alive 5 Last Round cruised along at a firm 60FPS.
It does do that slightly annoying thing where everything but the fighting is in 30FPS, mind. The fighter introductions and outros are all in 30FPS, as are the menus. Not a big deal, but very, very noticeable.
Before we take a proper look at how it runs in-game, though, let’s have a gander at the in-game menus.
Quite a lot of menus for something lacking in in-game visual options, but let’s check them out. First off, the woefully pointless “Screen”, which contains nothing but a brightness slider. Language does exactly what you’d expect in terms of changing the language of the game, although it does also give you the option to put the fighters’ voices into Japanese, which is something I always appreciate. Sound is volume sliders. And, obviously, Online doesn’t exist because neither does online multiplayer, right now.
The two that are of more importance are Game Settings and Controls. Game Settings lets you change the Fight Screen Info (the stuff that pops up on screen during battles), which is quite nice, and it also lets you adjust the more minor visual things. You can turn off the hit effects, or the ability for your fighter to get covered in sweat and dirt as the battles progress. You can turn on or off the cinematic swoopy camera. And, as this is Dead or Alive, you can adjust the breast physics.
I remain eternally amused that a game can have a BREAST MOTION setting, and in this case, you can shift it between Off, Natural, or DOA. Or Off, Natural, and Holy Shit My Boobs Are Orbiting My Torso, as I prefer to call them. I actually don’t know how natural the Natural setting is because I’ve never seen real people battle it out with magical martial arts while completely lacking any form of breast support, so I’m just going to assume it’s a radically toned down version of the DOA setting.
Controls get a partial tick from me. It offers four predefined sets of controls, as well as a “Custom” one that lets you set things up however you like. I haven’t played around extensively with this but it seems to work fine; for my part, I stuck with Type A, because that’s basically how I used to play every other Dead or Alive game on consoles. The option to fully customise the controls is one I’m very happy to see, though. The problem is that you can’t fully customise the controls, exactly; there appears to be absolutely no way to redefine the keyboard controls. You shouldn’t really be playing this with a keyboard, but that’s still a horrible omission.
I can’t actually talk overmuch about the game itself, barring that it scampered along at a blistering 60FPS. It’s Dead or Alive – it’s an intuitive fighting game that’s fairly simple for casual players (being both visually impressive and very mash-friendly) while retaining a good solid amount of depth, particularly through it’s counter-attack system. DOA5 was never my favourite of the series, but it’s still a perfectly decent game.
I really mean that, too: much as the series catches a lot of flak for its focus on boob movement and skimpy swimsuits (and much as I’ve mocked it throughout this piece for exactly that), it’s actually a good fighting series.
Anyway. The controls seem okay and the port functions pretty well, so let’s have a look at the graphics.
Thankfully, Dead or Alive 5 Last Round makes this pretty simple with the addition of Spectator Mode, which doubles as a sort of amazing Pervovision camera. This lets me set up an AI-versus-AI match with infinite health, and then control the camera and pause the action… and take picture. I’m not exaggerating: that’s actually a function of the mode. You can press a button to bring up a camera viewfinder, fiddle with what I think is the shutter speed, and snap away.
This does give me a really good opportunity to get a close-up look at the textures, though. You can get a fair glimpse at how the game looks most of the time from the screenshots scattered throughout, and it generally looks rather nice! But the closeups? Well, let’s see. I’ll set up a match between two female fighters, deck them out in the skimpiest outfits I can find, and put them on a beach. Away we go!
Jesus Christ, that’s a bit skimpier than I expected. Fortunately, the leis are apparently superglued to their nipples, which… actually, ow. Ow. Okay, so we’ll take a few pictures from other bits of the game too.
The skin textures are okay. Not super high-fidelity and a little bit plastic-y, but okay.
The clothing textures are pretty damn good. It’s a little hard to tell in this shot, but the little floaty… flap(?) at the back of Kasumi’s outfit looks really nice, for instance.
I’m considerably less impressed with the sweat and dirt, which is possibly the oddest sentence I’ve written so far, and that’s saying something in a piece where I’ve also written the words “My Boobs Are Orbiting My Torso”. Here’s a shot with a close-up of Kasumi’s legs and stockings, with dirt:
And here’s a shot of newcomer Marie Rose, complete with sweat:
The sweat isn’t bad barring that it can look like scars depending on how the light hits it (see the bit just above her arm), but the dirt just looks like a hideously low-res transparency overlaid on the clothing and skin textures. It doesn’t look horrible at a playable distance, but it doesn’t exactly look great there, either.
I’m not sure how much better this looks on PS4, honestly. The Soft Engine would presumably help with the skin, but the problem with updating an older game (even if it’s not that old) to a higher-resolution is that lots of little things stand out, like the edges of the clothing and so on and so forth. And let’s face it: this is at least a little bit nitpicky, considering I’m looking at close-ups that you’d never actually see in gameplay.
Final bit of nitpicking: some of the voice samples are noticeably low-quality. I only really noticed this on Pai and maybe Sarah, so it might be that those samples were ripped wholesale from an earlier Virtua Fighter game, but I feel I should note this anyway.
So the port seems decent enough, although possibly the most important thing – the online multiplayer – is something I can’t actually judge, because it’s not in the game. If the multiplayer is decent and relatively lag-free, then hooray!
But. Despite the fact that I’ve had no problems, this apparently isn’t true of a number of others. I’ve seen plenty of reports of weird issues, with absurdly low framerates and horrifically broken controls being the most prominent two. There are also a few people saying that the savefiles are based on your Steam username, which means that it won’t save properly if your name contains any unusual characters. Sorry, <3Xx!!23*(*PrInCeSsCuDdLeS*)*23!!xX<3, but you’re probably fucked.
I’m running a standard wired Xbox 360 pad and everything seems fine, but others have been complaining of things like Start being mapped to the right analogue stick. I don’t know if there’s a common link between these reports (as of the time of writing, the game has been out for around five hours) but if you’re running an unofficial pad, or a PC-specific pad, or one from an alternate system, you might want to wait a little while to see if people can resolve these issues. As I said, it works fine for me with a wired 360 pad, but I don’t have the means to test anything else. Likewise, I can only test it on my system, so I can’t really comment on the framerate issues. Sorry.
I can at least say that it has no Achievements and no Steamworks support. It doesn’t seem to support keyboard input at all if you have a gamepad plugged in (insofar as I couldn’t get off the “Don’t close the game when the saving icon appears!” screen using the keyboard, with the pad in) and there is no way that I can find to redefine the keyboard controls, which leads me to believe that there’s no point whatsoever in trying to play without a gamepad unless you think binding Start to M is a clever idea. It also seems to keep awarding me some of the same Titles over and over again when I log in, which is a bit weird.
Summary, then: Dead or Alive 5 Last Round feels like… well, like a fairly barebones HD port. It’s not jaw-droppingly spectacular but it looks rather nice, runs at a decent clip, supports high resolutions, and seems entirely playable – if you, like me, are one of the lucky ones. But it’s lacking a lot of stuff we’d expect from a decent PC port, like a slew of graphic options, support for more unorthodox resolutions, keyboard control customisation, online multiplayer, and the like. Equally, if you’re unlucky then you’re probably going to be saddled with awful gamepad controls and a dreadful framerate.
At best, Dead or Alive 5 Last Round works. Not spectacular, and not a phenomenal PC port in any way, but certainly one that’s workable and playable. The problem is that there’s no guarantee you’re going to get it at its best, so you might want to hold off to see if patches solve things, or if the community can figure out where the problems lie.