Normally I do not write game reviews since I am an anime critic at heart. However, I am sure a lot of people expect me to give my thoughts on the widely talked about Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 that was released a couple of months ago. After all, I am the ecchi extraordinaire that everyone wants to know what is the greatest form of lewd entertainment. Besides the busy schedule I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to give my thoughts on this game later on so that I can give a clear critique of all the things that it has to offer.
Dead or Alive is a series that I started out very late. I never owned an Xbox or 360 when Dead or Alive 3, Dead or Alive 4, Xtreme Beach Volleyball, and Xtreme 2 came out. The one I started out was the 5th one, specifically the Vita edition and later Last Round for PS4 Even though the series has been long regarded by fighting game fans as a joke in terms of being treated seriously among the likes of Tekken, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or even King of Fighters, I have always been interested in Dead or Alive; for obvious reasons, I know. If I want to get into a fighting game, it would have to be in a 3D environment where you are not limited to just a 2D space like in Street Fighter and the aesthetics would have to be appealing to my eyes. Therefore, beautiful girls with hot bodies and beat each other up in badass ways is the perfect match for me!
Naturally, when they announced that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 was going to be released, my anticipation was really high. But then I remembered something that notched it down: Team Ninja. They are studio that has not been at their top game ever since Itagaki, the original creator of DOA, left and the studio virtually tarnished Metroid Prime and Ninja Gaiden by releasing games in these respective series to almost universally negative reception. In fact, Dead or Alive 5 is the only game in this decade so far that has been remotely decent. But even then, many fans of the series felt like nothing has vastly changed since Dead or Alive 3 and have long joked about the game for being a cash cow for costume and swimsuit DLCs. This is where my worries about Xtreme 3 started to feel like it was about to head. That it was going to feel like a $30 expansion pack with a $60 price tag on it, or $80 if you are overseas like me.
After playing about 70 hours into this, my worries were right all along. To sum up my thoughts on this in a brief statement: This game felt like a lazy attempt for Team Ninja to garner as much cash from us as possible. Although I never played Xtreme and Xtreme 2, I remember watching videos on YouTube a long time ago of the pole dances and gravure scenes that were great looking at the time. To none of my surprise, most of the scenes in Xtreme 2 look exactly the same in Xtreme 3. Hell, the pole dances are ALL exactly the same. The only difference is obviously the improved graphics thanks to the new engine they used for Dead or Alive 5, which I will get to later on. In fact, I remember in Dead or Alive 5, you could buy beach scenes where the girls would play on the beach in their bikinis for a total of 20-30 seconds. All of them look directly similar to some of the beach scenes in this one. It’s almost like they conned us into buying this hoping we would not notice the difference.
Was I expecting much? Not really, but there’s no excuse for laziness of this magnitude, even from Team Ninja. What’s more infuriating is how they left off several other girls based on a poll they put up for fans to vote who was the most popular character and left off other mini-games from the previous games. It felt like they did not want to spend extra money for assets to put all the girls and mini-games into the game and instead used the money to create the revolutionary butt jiggle; which I might add is great, but I will expound upon that later.
As much as I am a guy who loves to watch girls have fun in the beach in swimwear and perform pole dances for me, the way to get to that point is only obtainable through grinding for owner money through excruciating ways. Let me explain. What is new in the game is Owner mode. No, not owner of the girls mind you, the owner of the island since Zach, the original owner of the beach island, lets you become the owner of the island for about 14 days. There are two modes where you play as the girl you choose and the owner. Not only that but you also manage money on both the girl and the owner, you cannot share the money in any way shape or form. You can get money in girl mode from doing mini-games like volleyball, rock climbing, gambling, tug-of-war, butt battle, beach flags, and pool hopping. For Owner Mode, gambling, watching girls play or relax, and doing assigned tasks are the only ones that give you money. The tasks also give you experience for your “Owner Lvl” which enables you to get unique bikinis and other sorts of perks.
Here is my big issue with this: Getting money in girl mode is quite easy to max out to about 150,000. However, in owner mode, it feels incredibly daunting to even reach to about 100,000. After the end of each vacation, you do get rewarded with a lot more money depending on how high your grade is, but even then you could be looking at least five vacations with a girl to reach that task. You can try to increase it by playing poker, blackjack, or roulette, but that is only if luck is on your side which only adds to the frustration. It would not be bad enough if it wasn’t for the fact that many of the owner items that are ridiculously expensive to boot. Tickets for pole dances are one of these that fit into this category.
Not only is buying tickets a pain but giving to girls and having them accept it is even more excruciating. You would think that when you get a girl to like you or get happy enough that they will automatically accept the ticket, but nope. Any item you give them, even if it is an item that they love, is tied to an RNG system. In other words, a Random Number Generator system that randomly selects how the girl will react to it. So it does not matter one way or the other if they love the item, just if you are lucky enough for them to accept it. For normal items, it isn’t too annoying since the girls will most likely accept the gift based on their heart meter that determines their happiness. But for pole dancing tickets, it is almost near impossible. I had to save scum at least 20-25 times before I eventually gave up in frustration and decide to watch the pole dances on YouTube, in HD I might add. So if you are expecting the girls to pole dance for you easily, you will most likely be disappointed.
With all of these frustrations, you would think that I would be trashing this game to smithereens endlessly. While I do think that these problems are big, there are actually some merits to this game that does make it enjoyable. For one, the mini-games, for the most part, are actually fun to play. Volleyball is obviously the one mini-game that anyone thinks about when they think about “gameplay” in this series, and rightfully so. Considering how there are so few Volleyball games, let alone good ones, Xtreme 3 is the best one that you could get your hands on. The controls take time to get used to in how you spike the ball towards the opponents’ side and giving the ball to your partner to strike. But once you have mastered them, it can be addicting to get into in a great way.
There are other good mini-games besides Volleyball. These being Butt battle, Pool hopping, and Tug-of-war. Butt battle and Tug-of-war use a degree of strategy by knowing what your opponent will do at any given moment during the round. This adds a great layer of challenge that you need for these games to be engaging and fun to go back to and play. Pool hopping is one that is challenging when you first start getting into it, but once you know how hard you press whatever button that aligns with the next platform to jump on it is a cakewalk but still addicting nonetheless.
However, these are where all the good mini-games stand. Rock climbing and Beach flags are both forgettable and not my favorites among the other ones. Rock climbing is essentially QTEs the whole way through and its impossible to fail because if you press the wrong button the girl will just get slightly stunned and the button prompt will appear again. All it is just to beat the time that you are assigned to beat if your assignment is to beat at a specific time and that is it. Since there is no challenge, it just becomes boring as a result. Beach flags is basically just press the X button really fast to beat your opponent to the flag. Unless you are the type of person who likes to press a button at a lightning fast pace, there is literally nothing engaging about it.
There is poker, blackjack, and roulette but they’re nothing special. I love to play me some poker and blackjack but that isn’t what I would really pay for in a game like this one. Its only reason for existing is to gamble your way for higher money to increase your owner money wallet or do an assignment that tasks you to play any of these games a number of times, which does not even rack up much experience or owner money so it’s pointless.
The A.I. is constructed in a weird way. The way it is set up is when you first challenge a girl to an activity, they start out on easy difficulty. Once you have beaten them several times, their difficulty rank starts to go up from medium to hard. If they beat you in a game, their difficulty drops to easy or medium depending on high level they are on hard or medium. It’s hard to critique on the A.I. based on how they designed it but I find that the opponents and your partner in Volleyball are pretty good most of the time. There are moments where they do weird stuff like an opponent just standing there not trying to block my spike. This is mostly an issue in Volleyball. In the other mini-games they are consistent in their difficulty A.I. rank.
Now we get to the part where I think everyone, including me, think the game excels: Visuals. The graphical models and designs of the girls are incredibly sexy and a godsend for this type of game. Trust me, go back to Xtreme and Xtreme 2 and look at how dated those girls looked back in the day. The girls did not even look like people, they just looked like poorly designed, doll-like, CG models. It’s almost uncanny valley in 2016, not to mention the really over-the-top breasts physics. In Xtreme 3, the Yawaraka Engine truly shines in giving the girls absolutely gorgeous complexion in their skin and facial animations. It’s so good that I wish I could just watch clips of the engine in action to see these girls doing all sorts of things. You can actually do that by unlocking a video editing mode once you get to a certain level where you can put a girl in a specific scenario, wearing whatever bikini you choose, and adjusting their wetness and tanning level. It is a nifty mode but unfortunately you have to progress through hours of tedious grinding to be at an experience level that unlocks it.
Speaking of tanning, that is a new feature that I was extremely impressed by. It looks incredible on each of the girls and it’s fun to add suntan lotion or sunscreen on them to make the feature happen. Though it is distracting to see girls have weird tanning patterns that can make them look weird depending on what bathing suit they often wear, I think adding the tanning feature was desperately needed to make it an “authentic” beach simulator. Another feature is, of course, the swimsuit malfunction where a girl’s swimsuit almost comes off after jumping into the water. It’s a cute feature that adds to the silliness aspect of the series.
There is the boob physics that Dead or Alive is controversially known for. They have improved the boob physics since Dead or Alive 5 so that they are not incredibly distracting and unintentionally hilarious to see as sexy like in Xtreme 2. Here they bounce when they need to be and look incredible thanks to the new engine. Now they have made the butt jiggle feature, which speaks to me if you know me by heart. It is not very noticeable if you don’t look hard enough, in fact Honoka-chan’s booty is the only one that is incredibly jiggly thanks to how big and gorgeous it is. Regardless, I think it’s still a feature that was really needed for us people who think of the female booty as essential to humanity as a whole.
There are a few graphical aspects to the game that are questionable however. Like when a character’s hair or bikini strap clips through their shoulder or the ground. It is minor I know, but it can get a little distracting when I am basking into Marie Rose or Hitomi-chan’s cuteness when their hair goes through any solid material. Also, the backgrounds almost look like the ones in Xtreme 2. It’s almost as if Team Ninja copied them from the Xbox 360 game and put it on the PS4 and Vita and didn’t bother to update it fully. They are not PS2-era graphics by any measure, but its kinda strange to see something like this from a supposed powerhouse like the PS4.
The gravure and pole dancing scenes are always nice to see. But there is just one big problem: There’s very little of them. Not only in terms of quantity but also of how short they are. I mentioned before how the pole dancing and gravure scenes were copied directly from Xtreme 2. The only forgiveness that I can partially concede is the fact that many fans just wanted to see these scenes from the beautiful engine in Dead or Alive 5. I do agree that they look astronomically better in Xtreme 3. Nevertheless, they could have at least added, I don’t know, two new pole dances at least? And maybe instead of 20 seconds of pole dancing, make it a minute? Unless you are that fast in “relieving” yourself, I like to keep my time and gaze at the beautiful “aesthetics” while I do my thing. This would have at least made up for the amount of dollars I had to pay to have this ship overseas for me. Granted you can make those longer by unlocking the video editor mode, but again, that would mean having to suffer through the tedious grinding and the awful randomized acceptance for the tickets that nobody wants to go through.
The swimsuit variety is vast and will continue with the monthly DLC schedule that they have implemented. All of them give each character a unique look that you can also give to other girls if your level is high enough. My only gripe is the fact that each swimsuit variety is mostly through color change. It is only a small nitpick though. The Fortune and Venus are incredibly designed and the fact that you can see Marie Rose, Hitomi-chan, and Honoka-chan wear them is a blessing from the heavens.
I think Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 could have been greater than what it already is. If they have gotten rid of this intrusive free-to-play model that they built, this could have been my “palate cleanser” game. If you want just to watch pole dancing and unlock the raunchiest swimsuits without the hassle of grinding for hours on end, you’re better off just watching them on YouTube. Unless Team Ninja actually tries to make another complete Xtreme game without any of the tedious grinding and free-to-play crap, I will only play this game on and off whenever I feel like looking at Marie Rose rest in bed in a tight one-piece. You’d think that would be A+ material, but not in this case.