Monday 11 December 2006
Two weeks on an island in the sun, surrounded by beautiful women in barely-there bikinis - sounds like heaven, right? Normally, it would be. Unfortunately, in the case of Dead or Alive Xtreme 2, it's just a dull and embarrassing romp around the tropics. We love beating the living hell out of people with the DOA ladies in the series' fighting games for sure, but dressing them up and exchanging presents? Count us out.
The game's focus, naturally, is boobs. From the opening cutscenes to the closing credits, breasts are the star of the show. Whether playing volleyball, snapping photos, hopping around a pool, or tearing down a water slide, it's apparent that the folks at Team Ninja have spent a lot of time researching the physics of mammary glands (we, um, respectfully volunteer to participate in that next time). This time round, the bouncing and jiggling is "enhanced" so that each breast has its own individual behavior - not all that realistic at times, but amusing as hell.
Above: Did we mention it's light on actual gameplay? But you can move the camera in these bits
At its core, Xtreme 2 is a cobbled-together collection of activities, with a heavy emphasis on skin. After picking your character, you show up on New Zack Island with a load of cash (where, exactly, is that kept?) and a built-in volleyball partner. Like our idea of a truly good vacation, there are no real goals or tasks to accomplish, other than spending gobs of hours collecting all manner of knick-knacks and swimsuits, you can pick and choose to do anything or nothing. Feel like watching your gal get a tan? Playing some volleyball? Going for a swim? Staying in bed? Go right ahead - all for your voyeuristic pleasure.
The real problem with most of these activities is that they're dreadfully boring and lack any depth. The volleyball and jet ski races are particularly frustrating, saddled with lousy controls and singular experiences. Sure, they look terrific (everything in the game does), but after 5 minutes you'll be hard-pressed to want to keep going.
Above: The lighting is gorgeous at sunset and the sand dimples under the girls' feet
In reality, much of your time is spent shopping for presents for all the other babes on the island to build your relationships. When you're lacking a volleyball partner, you need to kiss up to everyone else by giving them gifts of one type or another. Be sure to pick just the right one for them (including color, package, and presentation), otherwise they'll turn up their nose and even re-gift them right back to you. Shopping for women in real life is bad enough - forcing us to do it in a game is torturous.
The casino is a decent way to spend an evening, dropping some cash (and occasionally winning) on roulette, poker, blackjack, and slots. Each of the ladies' individual personality traits shine on the casino floor (we particularly like when Christie gets annoyed and throws her cards), but aren't there already about 500 games that offer these diversions?
Utlimately, all that Xtreme 2 did for us is to make us want to play earlier incarnations of the series' fighting games - and head to the tropics for a much-needed vacation. We've got a feeling that wasn't Tecmo's objective, but that's about all this one's good for.