Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Overview and Review: Dead or Alive 5 Collector’s Edition (w/pics)

Controller shown for scale

            Quite a few years ago, I remember hearing about a fighting game that had breast physics. Honest to goodness breast physics. By today’s standards, such a claim is not a unique thing. Many games now have weight and bounce added to the female characters’ breasts, but back when the original Dead or Alive implemented such effects, breasts in video games were mostly known for their hard-edged polygonal appearance and their rock solid immobility. As amused and as curious as I was, I did not purchase DOA. There were many other fighting games on the market and the new presumably gimmicky breast game was not enticing enough to warrant a purchase.
             That all changed when I saw DOA 2 Hardcore for sale at a ridiculously low used price at Gamestop. The gimmick had finally hit the right price point. I can honestly say that I was VERY pleasantly surprised that the breast physics were merely the hook to get me to start playing the very excellent and fun Dead or Alive.
            Many years later, DOA 5 is using the same exact hook to try and ensnare a market share in a very crowded genre. Let’s see how well the hook part of DOA 5’s Collector’s Edition release holds up.

Contents of Collector’s Edition (Gamestop Exclusive):
1) DOA 5
2) Premium Embossed Steel Case Packaging
3) Exclusive Hardcover Art Book
4) Premium Swimsuit Costumes
5) Official Soundtrack
6) DOA 5 Poster
7) Bunny/Angel Swimsuits (Gamestop Exclusive Pre-Order Bonus)


            The Premium Embossed Steel Case comes packaged inside of a mostly translucent plastic sleeve. The sleeve has information on the game and the Edition’s contents printed on the back. This part is not translucent. The front of the sleeve has a few necessary Sony logos, the game’s title, and the game’s rating. Most of the front is translucent. The sleeve is held onto the steel case by tape applied to the top and bottom of the case. The tape is fairly easy to remove but can leave a few spots of glue residue.
            The sleeve fits tightly and, I believe, will probably lightly scratch up the gloss on the steel case’s paint application. Another detriment to the sleeve is that it can hide potential damage to the steel case underneath. 


More Dents

Still more Dents

            My steel case, for example, was an absolute mess. I don’t exactly know whom to blame for this. Was it Gamestop’s fault for mishandling the Collector’s Editions? Was it the shipper’s fault for not treating the packages well? Was it Tecmo’s fault for not shipping the collector’s editions with adequate packaging protection? Was it the fault of the steel case’s designer for making a structurally weak steel case? I’m sure that blame could easily be attributed to one or all of the aforementioned parties. The sad truth, though, is that it doesn’t matter who is to blame because, in the end, it does not make my steel case look any less terrible.
            The steel case opens from either the back or the front. The front has an embossed number 5 against a sweat-covered black background and the back has the game’s non-embossed title against the same sweat-covered black background.

            The inside of the case has a plastic tray that holds the Collector’s Edition’s contents in a series of layers. The tray holds all of the items securely and comes with small thumb cutouts to help you remove the contents. 

            As it stands, the steel case is not the premium box that it is advertised as being. It feels rather flimsy and does not have any particularly exciting graphics or embossing on it. The best that can be said for the steel case is that it safely holds the edition’s contents in a pleasantly organized manner.

Art Book: 

Controller for Scale

            The hardbound artbook is 92 pages long. It is 6 inches wide and 8.5 inches tall. It gives off a first impression of being conveniently compact. The cover has the oft used “I’m a Fighter” Hitomi image printed with a nice matte finish. The game’s title is also written on the front with a gloss. It’s a nice, if not hard to notice, effect. The back of the book has the same water/sweat background given to the steel case. It is also in matte and has glossy lettering saying, “I’m a Fighter.” 
            The book’s pages are of a fairly thick paper stock and have good printing and color reproduction. The first 2/3 of the book (about 60 pages) are devoted to the game’s individual characters. Sadly, Virtua Fighter’s Pai and DOA’s Alpha characters are not represented. Each character has their own mini section. The female DOA characters are given a two-page spread with a small note from the game’s designers followed by two more pages of images. So, in total, each DOA female gets 3 pictures over 4 pages. All the other characters only get 2 pages each with 1 image per page. Regardless of the somewhat unfair skew towards the ladies of DOA, it’s nice to see an art book that devotes entire pages to single images. The only downside is that all of the art pieces featured in this first section of the book are actually just character renders instead of actual hand drawn artworks. Some people will be okay with that, but I will always prefer hand drawn art to character renders. 

2-page spread


2 more Renders

Ryu only gets 2 pictures...

At least he still gets a footnote

            The second section of the book is devoted to concept art for various characters’ costumes. It’s a nice surprise to see that this section does include hand drawn art, but it is unfortunate to see that this section does not give the art room to breath. It packs as many images as possible onto its pages. As such, my favorite part of the book is only about 10 pages long. 

More of this would have been nice

            The last section is devoted to the game’s stages. Again, we have a situation where too many images are fighting for space on each page. This section is made of a mix of game renders and concept art. There are also a few designer notes thrown in for good measure.

            Taken as a whole, the art book is nice. It does a good job of showcasing the artistic design of DOA 5 but does so without enough attention being paid to the conceptual art that led to the eventual character renders that it presents so nicely. It’s a mild disappointment.



            The game’s soundtrack comes on an actual CD! The CD comes in a jewel case! The jewel case has cover art! The jewel case has a track listing on the back! It’s everything an included soundtrack should always be. Kudos to Tecmo for not cheaping out and giving us a download voucher. 

Same under the disc
Track List on back
    As far as the music is concerned, it’s fighting game music. If you like listening to it, you’ll love it. If you don’t, you won’t. It’s no surprise that I think most game soundtracks are a waste of time outside of their medium, but for those that like them, Tecmo has done right by you.


            I was really worried that the Hitomi “I’m a Fighter” image would be what was on the poster. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the poster is of the game’s cover. For the record, I think that the cover is marvelous. 

Controller for Scale

            I like the art so much that I’m very sad that the poster had to be folded in order to fit into the steel case. I imagine that a tiny poster tube would have been too awkward. For those curious about whether or not it is easy to frame, I have some bad news. The poster measures 16.5x23.5 inches. That is in no way a standard frame size. If you want to put your DOA 5 poster in a frame, it will sadly need to be at some expense because you will probably need a custom frame.

Without Scale
    Which is a shame. The poster is wicked cool.

Premium Swimsuits (images of the swimsuits at the end of the review):

Super Classy
            Finally we get to the breast-baited hook of the DOA 5 Collector’s Edition. This edition comes with 12 premium swimsuits for the game’s female characters. The swimsuits are available via a download code printed on an included DLC card. Thankfully, the code is redeemable directly through the PSN and does not require some of the recent scavenger-hunt-style code inputting (as seen in Darksiders II).
            Usually I very much dislike DLC in collector’s editions because I feel that they are only cheapening the regular editions of the game to bolster the premium editions. However, I’m not sure that is the case with this DLC because this DLC comes in the form of a 61mb download. This is no 100k unlock code. It is actual data that may actually have been completed specifically for the collector’s edition. It’s a nice surprise to be able to download something more than just a key for once.

Back side of DLC Card

            Now, before I get into the quality of the DLC, I’d like to say that I think it’s rather unfair to female gamers that the male characters in this game have not been given swimsuits. I’m sure there’re women out there who would appreciate the chance to see Virtua Fighter’s Akira (or any other character) wearing a revealing speedo complete with it’s own physics based bouncing. Y’see, I don’t think it’s sexist for a game to pay so much attention to the female form so long as that appreciation and attention is also given to the male form. It’s the double standard, I think, that makes games like DOA sexist.
            That said, this is some of the best sexism money can buy. The included swimsuits are very sexy. They are well designed and do not seem overly ridiculous to the point of suspending our belief that a woman would wear what these women are wearing. That they would fight while wearing said clothes, however, is fairly silly. Another nice thing about the swimsuits is that, along with being well designed, they seem to be designed specifically for each character. The bikinis are not simply haphazardly given to the girls without regard for their character traits. This says a lot in regards to the way Tecmo deals with its exploited characters. On the one hand, their bodies are being exploited for sales. On the other hand, the women are given enough character and story and personality that even their exploitive swimsuits are representative of their individualistic traits. It’s a tightrope walk to be sure.
            If one is not instantly offended by the idea of swimsuits as premium DLC, then for that person, this DLC is a great addition to the DOA5 Collector’s Edition. Given that I am not instantly offended by the idea of swimsuits as premium DLC, I think that they are a great addition to the DOA 5 Collector’s Edition.

Gamestop Exclusive Bunny/Angel DLC (images of swimsuits at end of review):

Pre-order DLC code printed on Reciept
            The Gamestop DLC was available to all versions of DOA 5 that were pre-ordered through Gamestop. The DLC was made available through a code printed on the receipt. This is becoming quite common and I have come to accept it as being a rather unexciting but incredibly effective delivery method.
            The DLC can be downloaded via the PSN and the download comes in at 16mb. Again, it’s nice to see us getting more than just a 100k unlock code.
            As for the quality of the DLC, it is marred only by its comparison to the earlier swimsuit DLC. This small DLC package includes white bunny bikinis for Hitomi, Kasumi, and Lei Fang. Unlike the premium Collector’s Edition set, this 3 pack of bikinis is identical for all 3 characters. This set, more than the other one, seems to only be an excuse to sexualize the female characters without even the smallest attempt to see the women as being anything but an interchangeable collection of curves and skin.
            It’s strange that out of two seemingly identical sexist gestures, one of them serves to acknowledge and celebrate the different personalities of the game’s female combatants while the other completely disregards and trivializes them.
            In any case, the Gamestop DLC is nice, but underwhelming. Especially for those gamers whom are lucky enough to have the premium set to compare them to.


            The DOA 5 Collector’s Edition was available for a 20 dollar mark up over the original price of the game. Is it worth the extra 20?
            To start with, the steel case, with its boring design and structural weaknesses, was very much a disaster. The artbook, while nice, was too reliant on character renders. The soundtrack, though well treated, has limited appeal. The poster, though cool, needed to be folded to fit in the case and was made in a size that is difficult to frame. So, just about the only sure fire hit of this set was the swimsuit DLC.
            Does the swimsuit content push the value of this average set up to being worth the asking price? Probably not. I do not think, however, that that matters. As I stated earlier, Dead or Alive was a series that relied on hooks to find fans in an oversaturated market. That problem has not gone away. Just this year, there have been a large number of current gen fighters being released. The market is just as saturated as it was when DOA first came out. Though it obviously has more fans than it did when it was first released, Dead or Alive is still very much a niche title that very much still needs that hook.
            If this Collector’s Edition and it’s premium swimsuits are a way to get more players interested in the Dead or Alive franchise, then so be it. I rarely discuss the idea of collector’s editions being tools for promotion, but this set could easily be argued as being just that. It is a vehicle to help spread word and hype. As a fan of the series, I am more than happy to spread some of that hype. Dead or Alive is a great fighting game series that has some great breasts and even better gameplay. The Collector’s Edition, however, is sort of meh, but still worthwhile.

Bunny Kasumi + LeiFang (Gamestop Pre-Order)

Bunny Hitomi (Gamestop Pre-Order)

Premium Kasumi + Mila Swimsuits

Premium Helena + Kokoro Swimsuits

Premium Christie + Ayane Swimsuits

Premium Tina + Lisa Swimsuits

Premium LeiFang +Hitomi Swimsuits

Premium Sarah
Premium Pai


sol_fortunatus said...

nice review
,thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

The way all reviews of extra-content games should be done. Great review!