Tekken Tag Tournament 2 vs. Dead Or Alive 5 Opinions / Mini-Review

On release day, I got my hands on a shiny new copy of Dead Or Alive 5 for the Xbox 360. Not the shiniest copy, as that title goes to the Collector’s Edition (art book, soundtrack, a tin case, etc). I intended to purchase the CE, but unfortunately, it was a Gamestop PREORDER exclusive. Why is “preorder” in all caps? Because Gamestop, at least on their website, never stated that it was, in fact, a preorder exclusive. I had to find that out by calling around to several stores within driving distance, only to hear the clerks say, “Um… yeah… the collector’s edition is only for people who preordered.” Lame. Lame, indeed.

So anyway, I had a friend pick the game up for me on day 1. After spending a few days with the game, I really don’t know what to think about it. This is not my first DOA. I’ve played all of ‘em, but this is my first DOA during my newfound appreciation for learning fighting games.
Since Mortal Kombat 9’s life signs appear to be fading from the tournament scene and there’s not a sequel on the horizon, I decided that it was time for me to move on to another fighter. Sure, there are games like BlazBlue and that new Persona Arena game out there, but I’m not exactly sure about those. Any new fighting game seems overwhelming when trying to learn it, but anime based fighting games, while fun on a casual level, just seem much too overwhelming to me when trying to learn them. That and, on a competitive level, I’m just not that interested.

DOA 5 and Tekken Tag 2 were both released within 2 weeks of each other. A decision had to be made: Would I choose DOA 5 or TTT2 as my main fighting game? After having spent some time trying to learn both games, I have come to my conclusion. I figured the best way to shed some light on the reasoning behind my decision would be to basically give a mini-review and comparison of each game.

Round 1…. Fight!
Graphics: Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard this being debated a lot. Personally, I think both games are about the same on the visual level except for one thing: The stages. I’m not really that impressed with Tekken’s stages, but DOA’s are gorgeous. Stage features, such as being able to knock people through walls, are not that important to me (something which both games have), but I do like the stages to be somewhat lifelike. At least, I like them to have an exciting feel. One of the stages in TTT2 is literally just a street. You can make out some faded buildings in the background, but that’s about it. There are some pretty stages in TTT2, but that’s just an extreme example of how bland they can sometimes be. DOA, on the other hand, has one particular stage where you are in the middle of a middle-eastern war zone! Quite cool. Dead Or Alive 5 wins.

Round 2…. Fight!
Art Style / Characters: (To use a quote from MK9 Pro, Tom Brady) “Let’s be serious here:” Who doesn’t like hot women? Well, I’m sure there are quite a few ladies out there who just raised their hands, and probably some dudes, as well. If ladies aren’t your thing, don’t worry, there are guys in both Tekken and DOA, but you can’t deny that both Namco and Team Ninja/Tecmo have an affinity for the ladies. Especially Tecmo with the bouncing… well… you know. Anyway, the art style for both games is pretty phenomenal. Both are on the quasi-anime side when it comes to character design, with Tekken’s being slightly more realistic, but that’s to be expected from 2 Japanese developers. TTT2 boasts 50+ characters while DOA 5’s roster consists of approximately 25. All the characters from both series have unique designs and personalities, so both games are visually appealing on the character front. Draw.

Round 3…. Fight!
Fighting System / Gameplay: Here is what really sets the two games apart. Both are 3D fighters, so there is some degree of similarity between the two such as side steps, whiff punishing, etc.
Tekken system – In Tekken, your most basic objective is to play mind games with your opponent. Since high damage combos are usually done by starting with a launcher (a highly unsafe move that can usually be punished after it’s blocked), you spend most of your time trying to trick the other player into falling for it. This is usually done by “poking” the other player with low attacks which might make them crouch-block in order to avoid taking damage. When he/she crouch-blocks, they become vulnerable to mid attacks such as launchers. That doesn’t mean you should predominantly use low attacks during a match, though. You need to mix up your strikes and keep the opponent guessing so you can get that big damage. Sometimes though, an entire Tekken match will consist of nothing but poking. If both players are 100% on their game, this is not entirely uncommon.

DOA system – As stated above, in a sense, I’m kinda new to DOA. Before trying to learn the basics of the game, I read a lot of people’s comments on it saying that it’s nothing more than a “guessing game.” My thoughts were, “But isn’t every fighting game essentially a guessing game?” DOA uses a “hold,” or counter system, in which you can stop an opponent’s attack and counterattack by doing a certain input. The problem is that that you have to do the RIGHT input. As with most fighting games, DOA uses 3 hit levels for attacks: High, Mid and Low. If your opponent throws out a high attack, you can counter it by pressing diagonal up and back along with the hold button (usually X on ps3 and A on 360). Good so far? Just wait… If they throw out a low, you press diagonal down and back and the hold button. For a mid attack, press back plus hold. If your opponent throws out a mid kick, not a punch, but a kick, you press forward and the hold button. These are 4 options in which you have to guess to avoid taking damage. Not only do you have to guess what hold to counter with when your opponent attacks you, you are also able to pull off these holds during combos as long as you’re being hit while touching the ground. This means that even though you might be setting up massive damage in a combo, if your opponent guesses right, they can stop your combo and you take damage. You also have to deal with what is referred to as “the triangle system.” The triangle system is basically a form of rock, paper, scissors in which Strikes beat Throws, Throws beat Holds and Holds beat Strikes. This leads to even more guessing. When you add Offensive Holds (holds which go through strikes) from all the game’s grapple (wrestler type) characters, the game’s fighting system just starts to seem like a huge mess. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 wins.

The Winner: We’ll call it a draw.

While guessing, or “making reads” as the fighting game community tends to call it, is a part of every fighter to a certain extent, DOA in my opinion, relies on guessing much too heavily. The fact that if I do a combo on someone and they just happen to guess the correct counter hold to an attack I’m throwing out, leaving me at a disadvantage and unable to retaliate, is kind of wonky. Yes, you have to guess at times in Tekken, but it’s really only in one particular situation: getting off the ground.

Knocking people down is monumentally important in Tekken games. After a knockdown, you are able to pressure the opponent by throwing out an attack while they’re grounded. The flip side is that the opponent has “wakeup” options, as well. Because of the “crush” system (which is in both DOA and Tekken), if the opponent wakes up with a low, something like a jump kick will usually beat that attack. Most of the time, this results in getting launched all over again. The difference with DOA is that you must guess correctly all the time. Not just when on the ground or pressuring a grounded opponent.

Does all this guessing make DOA 5 a bad game? Absolutely not. It’s just not a game that I would want to play seriously and learn all of its intricacies. There is a competitive DOA scene out there, but it’s a pretty small one. One has to wonder if this is because DOA is considered by the majority as “unbalanced,” or if DOA players just have it figured out and the rest of us aren’t smart or good enough to play it. Depending on whom you asked, you’d probably get both responses.

Mortal Kombat is the first fighting game that I ever decided to learn and master. I had a lot of fun over the past year and a half with my experience playing the game, but it’s time to move on. Shortly before I competed at Final Round in Atlanta, I started to get into Tekken 6. I even considered entering it, along with MK9 and Soulcalibur V, but decided instead to focus only on MK. Now that MK has begun to die down, I believe I’ll just stick to my guns and continue on with Tekken Tag Tournament 2. DOA is a great and very deep game which I will continue to play on the side, but it’s definitely not for everyone. It’s most certainly not a game I would want to play on a tournament level.

My overall scores for the games: Dead Or Alive 5 – 7.5 Tekken Tag Tournament 2 – 9.0

Posted on September 27, 2012 .