Dead or Alive Xtreme 2
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-2
Words By:

Straying further from the bounds of normality and good taste the Dead or Alive girls are back again, bubbly and bouncy as ever with the teenager’s dream Dead or Alive Xtreme 2.

DOAX2 is very much in the same style as the first incarnation; you stroll around New Zack Island with your partner, playing mini-games, giving people presents, oiling yourself up by the pool, showering down, having ‘bum battles’ and maybe if there’s time playing a spot of volleyball. Essentially it’s like a Sexy RPG, but not the kind with websites, whips and dungeons... the main point of the game seems to be to be friends with everyone (especially your ‘partner’), and the various games let you earn the money needed to buy presents to give people.

For the voyeurs (there’ll always be a couple) DOAX2 has some of the best graphics I’ve seen on 360 so far (like a shiny, bouncy version of Gears of War) and the ladies are all modelled intricately, even if the hair does move a little strangely. There are more outrageous outfits that range from one-pieces to seashells connected with bits of lace, and the game happily provides you with a camera to, ahem, archive the ‘precious memories’.

The mini-games certainly aren’t DOAX2’s strongest point. Pool Hopping (where you press the right colours to ‘hop’ across the pool) is back and this time you can race against another lady. It’s quite fun but the game is very sensitive to how you press the buttons, so will frequently register a long-distance jump when you only tapped it lightly. Other activities at the pool are ‘butt battle’ (which isn’t as exciting as you’d think) and ‘tug of war’. Both essentially involve the same process where you either attack or feint, trying to get your opponent in the water in a best of three showdown, but aren’t exactly a skill game and quite simple even for a mini-game (see Fusion Frenzy 2 for good mini-games).

The other two lesser mini-games are beach flags, which involves simply tapping one button as much as you can to run to a flag and dive for it. It’s over in half the time it took to load. The other is the water slide, which is fun until the camera shifts around so you can’t see the bend and you fly off the side, and without an option to retry you’ll have to wait about three minutes before you can try again - shoddy. Not that you’d want to, though; for all the effort you put into trying to win any of these mini-games you get a fraction of what you get for winning the beach volleyball or jetskiing games, making these not only frustrating but completely pointless except for variety filler.

The ‘best’ new addition to the game has to be the jetskiing. It plays like Wave Race or a stripped-down Splashdown and has had considerably much more thought put into it than the other mini-games put together. You accrue points for staying between the slalom of buoys littered across the ‘track’ and by going through the buoys you also charge up your boost. This is made harder by combining some tight turns and quite realistic waves which you have to fight against just to stay on-course. There are also ramps which let you pull off a few simple tricks to earn more money at the end. This is by far the easiest game to win, and will net you quite a lot of money.

Beach volleyball has been taken from the game’s title, and rightly so; it’s dwarfed by the other games (jetskiing particularly) and hasn’t been improved much from the original, which was frankly, rubbish. You still only have two buttons (lay-up and attack), so it’s all a matter of timing, which is difficult when you spend quite a bit of time trying to work out where the ball is going to land as the 3D camera still isn’t all that helpful. The computer, on the other hand seems to be an expert at volleyball and taking even a single point from them will have you in sweats. If you do manage to win you’ll receive a little more than jetskiing, which is silly given the difference in difficulty, but if you lose a couple of games in a row your partner will leave you and you’ll only be able to go jetskiing. Fine by me…

That’s all the activities you can do during the day, but you can only do three activities each day, then you’re taken back to the hotel, where there are some more activities. The casino is where I spent most of my time, as it is mostly random and the Roulette and Blackjack tables are actually quite addictive, even if the other girl’s bets are a little hard to figure out (in Roulette they’ll always bet several thousand on a single number and also bet on every corner around it). However the slots are a waste of time and the poker is annoying because the other girls again bet randomly (re-raising to several thousand on one pair?), so it doesn’t really feel like poker.

As mentioned earlier, if you don’t win the first couple of volleyball games your partner will leave you and you’ll need to get another one. This is where the game’s supposed ‘relationship’ part kicks in but is in reality nothing more than sending presents to people (which they return because they hate you) and asking them to be your partner (which they refuse because you’re shite at volleyball), leaving you frolicking all alone…

The one question that ran through my mind when I played this game was “what audience is this aimed at, and what’s the point?”. You’d think it was a shameless teenage semi-nudity cash-in a la BMX XXX, but when you look closer the game portrays itself in every other way as a game for girls-friendships, presents, buying books to ‘read’, the music (I wanted to kill the Baha Men after 20 minutes) and the general chat of the characters: it’s just a Clueless teenage sim set on an island in bikinis. But do pre-teen girls like big bouncing breasts and rubbing each other down in the shower? It’s a titillating thought but I’d hope not, and since lecherous men looking for some quasi-porn won’t like the teeny-bopper soundtrack and sending presents to the other women that are more rubber ducks than butt plugs it doesn’t seem to appeal to anyone.

DOAX2 still hasn’t solved the problem that the game never ends - there is no bonus for being a friendly girl who can butt-battle with the best of them and run around in a seashell bikini, so why bother? I think given the way the game is you can’t ask questions like: ‘what’s the point of this game?’ when, like modern art, maybe the point is not to have a point. Still, it doesn’t detract from the fact that DOAX2 is essentially a collection of poor mini-games strung together with giggling and skimpy bikinis and simply doesn’t deliver anything but a confused game.

Best Bits

- The ladies’, uh, personalities…
- You get a camera
- They jump around a lot
- And share ice-creams…
Worst Bits

- More varied, yet not really an improvement on the original
- New mini-games are throwaway
- Volleyball still tough to play
- The soundtrack

by: Crazypunk

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