"Although I could whine about DOAX2's more challenging (but still fair) version of volleyball, the marina race is far, far better than volleyball ever was. There are a lot of courses — more are unlocked after a first-place finish — and the aquatic atmosphere provides a relaxing counterbalance to the adrenaline of high-speed battle. Even after mastering the basic course layout, there's still the "flag" system used to earn turbo boosts, the stunt system which lets me pull off some crazy flips, and the fair but persistent opposition."
Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 is absurd.
The game takes nine beautiful but violent girls, several of whom have tried to assassinate each other in the past, and drops them onto an island paradise where they give each other gifts like Chinese tea sets and prototype Xboxes. There is absolutely no reason that Hitomi and Lei Fang -- last seen toppling fruit stands in Dead or Alive 4's outdoor marketplace -- should share a single soft-serve ice cream cone... but there they are, on my TV screen, sitting side-by-side on a wooden bench. One licks, the other licks, and then they grin like young yuri lovers. Even ignoring the skimpy swimsuits and lurid gravure scenes, this game is a mockery of Dead or Alive's fragile integrity.
To some people, this tropical adventure might feel like a natural extension of the original concept. Cynics might say that Dead or Alive was always about the exploitation of big-breasted women. Nonsense! Perhaps the naysayers are pencil-neck geeks driven by a sick and twisted desire to feel superior to manly men like Leon The Mercenary, who fights in pursuit of... a flower. Perhaps they're closed-minded philistines unable to recognize the serious social commentary underscoring such scenes as Lei Fang's harrowing encounter with a groper on a Japanese train. In any case, those people won't get the point; they won't realize that the Xtreme games are Team Ninja's way of mocking them.
But that's okay. The nice thing about Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 is that no one has to get the point. It's a soothing, stress-relieving excursion that succeeds on its own merits.
For a few hours, I thought just the opposite. I played a quick round of volleyball, expecting to nail a perfect game, and... I lost! I played the new (and gorgeous) watercraft event, but... I had no idea where I was going! It was frustrating. I felt anything but soothed. Sure, the graphics were beautiful, there were more suits, and there were more mini-games, but I was quite upset. I hurriedly penned the following paragraph:
The first DOAX was easy to defend because of its high production values. Even though it was a silly spin-off, it was clearly a product of love. Since Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 lacks many of the advancements and refinements expected in a Team Ninja sequel, it's a harder game to praise. Marginally improved as it may be, I don't feel the love.
I was proud of myself. I felt as though I had come up with the perfect passage by which to both defend my high score for the original DOAX and justify slamming the second episode! I just needed to play the game a bit more -- to gather examples to prove my point -- and then the review would practically write itself.
Staff review by Zigfried (December 11, 2006)
Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.
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