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Dead or Alive 3 (Xbox) artwork

Dead or Alive 3 (Xbox) review


" Dead or Alive 3 relies heavily on the structure of its predecessors. Somewhere along the line, Team Ninja made a compromise. In their assertion that fans of fighting games didn't need any more content than what was available to them in the last entry. There are only two fresh faces aside from Hayate's alter-ego, EIN. If you haven't tried the other DOA games, there is a singular cross-over from Team Ninja's only other gaming property, which is enough of a reason for any self respecting Ninja Gai..."



Dead or Alive 3 relies heavily on the structure of its predecessors. Somewhere along the line, Team Ninja made a compromise. In their assertion that fans of fighting games didn't need any more content than what was available to them in the last entry. There are only two fresh faces aside from Hayate's alter-ego, EIN. If you haven't tried the other DOA games, there is a singular cross-over from Team Ninja's only other gaming property, which is enough of a reason for any self respecting Ninja Gaiden fan to drop their dollar.

DOA3 squandered the presented opportunity to release a fully-realized sequel alongside the Xbox at launch. Instead Tecmo opted for what must've been a high ticket contract with Microsoft to make their product Xbox exclusive, which only furthers my personal dismay with gaming companies who are ignoring the Arcade market. Fighting games are at their best in a social setting and even though we can be bought over and disillusioned by the best graphics modern gaming has to offer, that concept makes for an extremely forgettable experience most of the time.

Enter Kasumi. Kasumi's fluttering blue uniform covers her heaving bosom and sholders, leaving the fairly coloured skin from her hips down to her thighs exposed to the mean driving snow which storms downward from the sky, each flake of snow detailed and clear. Her boots and pulled up nylons leave little to the imagination, as she darts through the snow, dispensing a realistic impression upon the frost-covered earth beneath her. Fully utilizing her combative and sexual appeal, Kasumi performs a gracious frontflip, locking her succulent legs tightly around the opponent's shoulder, and rolls them backwards into the frothy cold of the ground. Following her acrobatic stunt, she pounds her fist into the small of the opponents back before they rise upwards, only to pull them in towards her and execute a heavy punch into their gut, which sends them sprawling helplessly into a tree, which initially seemed intangible.

That is where Dead or Alive 3 hits its stride. Being one of the most immersive games I've ever played, the environments are almost always interactive. If experimenting with throwing your opponent down open chasms, off of rooftops, through windows, into explosive devices, or through walls isn't enough, beating the game with any given character will unlock brief cinematic videos. These cinematic interludes are usually pretty damn uninteresting, but they all look incredibly lifelike. The fact that they are assuming of the player's prior knowledge of the storyline's series and are literally the only background you'll obtain for each character seems cruel and less than fulfilling.

Microsoft must have realized that unless they were to secure contracts with Japan-based game developers early and often, their oversized console would not get anywhere overseas. Team Ninja wisely kept to the traditional Japanese voice-overs, opting for English subtitles, and some rather questionable translations, in some cases. It's not a huge deal, but if the Japanese or European forms of DOA3 are readily available to you, they would be a better investment than the early American release which misses out on costumes cut at launch. It doesn't bother me enough personally so that I feel any motivation to go and track down a copy of the Official Xbox Magazine companion disc which included the content, but it's sort of annoying to know that we were shorted so Team Ninja's product could coincide with the Xbox's launch.

The controls are tightly wound. Each combo is pretty easy due to their forgiving nature. Timing is everything in Dead or Alive 3. The key to performing well in fights isn't usually found in button mashing nor in elaborate attacks. Instead, knowing what attacks to use when and what result they will have is of the utmost importance. Considering the opponent's placement on the "battlefield" in conjunction to your own and where they will wind up when you perform a throw or decide to relay a number of punches. That is what made Dead or Alive 2 endlessly addictive to me, when it was released on the DreamCast. Now it just feels like more of the same. Tag-team fights are a lot of fun in multi-player, but the other game modes which utilize it in single-player seem unnecessary, unless racking up high scores in each mode with every character is your idea of a good time.

Anyone who doesn't mind a loose, sort of wacky storyline that goes without clear explanation will probably get a lot more out of Dead or Alive 3 than I did. As a launch title, it featured visuals which initially pushed the Xbox more than most games released at the end of it's lifespan. It's hard for me to give Team Ninja a pass on re-iterating nearly the same experience that can be had on the DreamCast, but the visuals have been revamped and the interactive elements the majority of the levels contain make an old formula feel just like new again and most importantly, right at home on the Xbox.

She sure does kick high.

Rating: 8/10

Calvin's avatar
Community review by Calvin (June 30, 2007)

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