Electronic Theatre In-depth Reviews: Dead Or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

The Dead or Alive series has never been known to be quiet. Every release is noted in the press for some reason and, back in 2003, Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball was no exception. A surprise announcement leads to a surprisingly quick release of a game that, surprisingly, is little more than an extension to the infamous fighting series.

            “Now what on Earth does Beach Volleyball have to do with fighting?” I hear you ask. Well, not a lot actually… women. Yes, the girls. It seems that Kasumi, Hitomi, Lei Fang and company have decided doax6.jpg (11242 bytes)to take a well earned break on none other than Zack’s island, named; Zack Island! The main game is centred around this feature as the only other option available is an Exhibition Mode featuring a very limited two-player.

            The title starts with an introduction sequence – straight in with the humour, it’s a spoof of Titanic­ – which does little to tell you anything about the story, when suddenly you find yourself at the Poolside, talking to Lisa and beginning your tour of the island. The game plays through a two-week period (although you’re never told how long the period is until it’s over, which can be quite frustrating when you first play) in which the Island acts as a HUB for various activities.

            I think first we should talk about the actual Volleyball, as it is supposed to be the main part of the game. The basic rules consist of pressing A to spike or B to pass. The harder you press the button the harder the move will be executed, and you can direct your spikes with the Left Analogue stick. The camera seems to swing wildly back and forth at first play, making any kind of volley impossible. However, after a few a matches you begin to realise the essence of the camera’s position and your effect off screen. It’s first to seven wins, unless you Deuce, and to add a bit of flavour the four characters playing (including yourself) doax1.jpg (12053 bytes)will be affected by non-metered forces. Emotions such as enthusiasm, confidence and how energetic a character is feeling also have a bearing on how well that character performs. On the surface this doesn’t sound too far removed form the majority of Volleyball videogame exercises, but the gameplay is rather shallow. With no leagues to progress in or any real sense of victory for winning a match the feature is not likely to hold your attention long enough to justify it as a “game” in it’s own right, and feels as if it would have been more at home as a mini-game within Dead Or Alive 3.

            Other activities on the Island include taking a rest – which then shows a “Gravure” movie – buying hundreds of gifts, ranging from ribbons to knives to swimsuits, and either keeping them or giving them to other girls, playing a jumping mini-game (which as you pass the time actually becomes slightly more entertaining than the main game) or visiting Zack’s Kingdom – the Island Casino. The Casino offers a range of games such as Blackjack and Poker, but each game offered seems to differ quite strangely from the basic rules and does little to attract you into the Casino mini-game area. A few plays of each will be enough to give you a taste, and deter you from ever venturing back.

            It’s well known that Tecmo and, more specifically, Team Ninja prefer to develop for the Xbox as it is the most powerful system currently on the market, and they are also one of few development teams to draw the most from Microsoft’s hefty number-crusher – so it comes as no surprise that Dead Or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball looks absolutely stunning. Each of the characters is rendered beautifully and look almost human. The Gravure movies can be spun, zoomed-in and viewed from three different angles and the girl’s bodies look heavenly. It’s a testament to one-handed-development that Team Ninja actually managed to get the girls finished. The water effects are pleasant, but not much better than seen on the very early GameCube title WaveRace: Blue Storm, other than that there aren’t too many flashy effects as the game doesn’t call for them, but the smoothness of the cut-scenes really does blow your mind. The girl’s doax7small.JPG (11779 bytes)giggle with delight and Zack is voiced by the infamous wish-I-was-a-tough-man Dennis Rodman, featuring a musical score including Bob Marley, Reel Big Fish and -ugh- Christina Aguilera (thank God you can also use Custom Soundtracks!)

            While Team Ninja seem to have made a good effort responding to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Melee with the must-have companion for all Dead or Alive fans, featuring unlockable videos, costumes and a whole host of other secrets, they seem to have got a bit confused along the way and forgotten to include a game. With the Volleyball amounting to a quick button-bash every once in a while and only a handful of other gameplay options on the disc, it becomes obvious that the game is not about playing; it’s about Dead or Alive, or, more importantly, the Dead or Alive girls. Aimed squarely at teenage boys and desperate single men, this is clearly the FHM of video gaming.doaxscore.jpg (39687 bytes)






















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