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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Tecmo

 

Developer

Tecmo / Team Ninja

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2001

 

 

- Unbelievable graphics
- Great multiplayer Tag Battle and Team Battle modes
- Aerosmith musical contribution

 

 

- Relatively easy and short Story Mode
- No weapons available for battling
- Falls short of pre-release hype as best fighting game ever

 

 

Review: Capcom vs SNK (Dreamcast)

Review: Tekken Tag Tournament (Playstation 2)

Review: DOA Xtreme 2 (360)

Review: Dead or Alive: Ultimate (Xbox)

 

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Dead or Alive 3

Score: 9.5 / 10

 

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You may have heard all the hype surrounding Dead or Alive 3 before its release in conjunction with the Xbox release. Best fight game EVER. Best video game ALL-TIME. That's certainly lofty expectations. Now that the game has been released, has it lived up to the enormous expectations? No, DOA3 hasn't. But what game really could? Best fighting game mantle is still retained by Soul Calibur. All-time best game is certainly open to debate. Instead, what we are left with is a great game that realizes some but not all of the haughty claims of greatness thrust upon it by the gaming community that amazingly shows off the full potential of the Xbox even though it is a first-generation title.

The most astounding aspect of the game is the unbelievable graphical rendering of characters and levels. This lives up to the hype of being a true visual harnessing of the Xbox's astoundingly potent processing power. You've never seen a fighting game (or many other games for that matter) as beautiful as DOA3. The skin, hair

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and clothing attributes of the characters during gameplay are gorgeous in their own right. You can see the attention to detail in creating each of the individual character's entire physical makeup. From Kasumi's hair to the detailed upper chest of Zack, each character has a bodily realism to them not many games have had. When the characters move, their hair or clothing moves in realistic fashion.

As far as clothing goes, the silky traditional

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Chinese garb worn by both Gen Fu and Brad Wong have a smooth sheen to them. The leather that makes up Tina and Leifang's alternate second costume, Bayman's orange vest, and Bass' biker outfit are realistic enough that you would swear you could actually smell the rawhide itself. The game's realism is that good. But wait until you check out what the Xbox is capable of in the computer-generated ending movies attained by taking each character through the Story Mode. I was awed, to say the least. The best is Jann Lee. His ending movie has him bouncing out some unruly guests from the nightclub he works at. After resistance from the miscreants, he takes them outside for a "friendly" little chat. The shirtless Jann Lee flexes his muscular upper body, and the combination of skin, muscles, and veins on display is unbelievable. Those perverts playing the game will like the brief nudity flash during Christie's movie and the skimpy bathing suit-attired Helena taking a swim with the dolphins.

Levels throughout the game don't attain the same high graphical sweetness as the characters, but they aren't far behind. Even better is the interactive aspect of most of them. In the indoor dojo, you can throw your opponent through the wall, sending them crashing onto the roof below. You can toss them down again into the courtyard. The fenced-in fighting arena explodes with blinding electricity when a fighter gets tossed into the enclosure. These type of interactions can change the tide of the battle for or against you, depending if you or your opponent is the unlucky one headed into a bone-crunching encounter with interactive level features. One of the most impressive levels is the forest. The falling leaves and the moss-covered rocks must be seen to be believed for their fabulous authenticity.

 

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The short and basically easy Story Mode is DOA3's only disappointing aspect. I can't tell if that is because I was having so much fun playing that I didn't realize until too late that I had finished the mode or if it really is as short as it seemed. Regardless, you will be clamoring for more of DOA3 once you have made it through the Story Mode. And this takes into account the fact that the game has no coherent storyline to speak of. In actuality, it's so stupid, I don't even want to give up the details here for fear it may cause readers to lose some IQ points.

Tag Battle and Team Battle are much more engaging game modes which rescue the overall game from sinking to the tragically brief Story Mode's equivalent. Tag Battle lets you and a partner (either human or CPU) square off against another duo (any combination of two human or CPU adversaries). The capability of pulling off combo moves, which incorporates the two teammates to use their skills in a combined attack, is absolutely a thing of beauty. The team of Zack and Bass, for example, has two devastating combos. One is when Zack "tags" into the match and is thrown headfirst into the opposing combatant. It's features like this that make DOA3 a wonderful multiplayer engagement that thrusts the game into the realm of mentioning it amongst the best games of 2001.

You are given a great selection of characters to choose. 16 different and varied fighters are available to select from. And each has a different fighting style, reflected not only in the moves that can be made by each, but also differing in speed and strength. Bass is a good example. Nobody hits harder than the 6 ' 5", 346-pound wrestler. But that is counterbalanced by his slowness afoot and in his attempts to rapidly attack. He doesn't have the speed that ninja Ryu Haybusa, almost 200 pounds lighter than Bass, has as part of his fighting abilities.

Microsoft has been smartly advertising the game with the commercial that features two drooling, obviously female-deprived twenty-somethings unconvincingly trying to play off the fact that the only reason they play DOA3 is they really, really enjoy seeing all those vivacious brawling babes and their patented extremely high and perverse thoughts-provoking kicks. There is so many beautiful femme fatales to select from, if you don't notice their prominently bodacious bodies, you are one of those poor saps that only picks up Playboy magazine for the articles.

 

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Each character is given a detailed biography with the usual information you would expect, like age, height, weight, fighting style, and nationality. But there is also a spattering of eclectic data such as each character's blood type, which holds astrological significance among the Japanese but doesn't mean squat anywhere else. They also have their likes and hobbies listed, which are also a little bizarre. Pro wrestler Tina cycles and plays video games as a hobby. (Anybody else but me think she likes fighting games the best?). Kasumi's likes sent me to my handy dictionary: She likes strawberry millefeuille (it is some kind of French strawberry cream puff).

Another important attribute is DOA3's excellent control scheme. The Xbox controller looks and feels intimidating if you haven't had any experience playing an Xbox game before. In fighting games, combination moves and variety of attack and defensive positions is a significant need. DOA3 has it all. And the Xbox controller surprisingly proves up to the challenge of supplying the necessary fluid control to throw, punch, kick, or block your opponent with relative ease. The only thing missing from the fighting aspect of DOA3 is the ability to incorporate any type of weaponry into your attack scheme. That would have been a welcome game upgrade.

The speed of the game's flow is very nice. In another nod to the power of the Xbox, you won't see any pauses during game action. The velocity and ferocity of some of the attack moves that zoom around the arena are truly bestial in their utter savagery. Game action is always high-paced, giving you little time to strategize. You need to be an expert at fighting on the fly if you want to survive and become a veritable DOA3 master.

Music is better than average, with most of the tunage provided in the individual levels having a distinctly techno-house sound. And the ageless rockers Aerosmith, who once were the basis of a mostly awful videogame some years back, provide three songs ("Amazing," "Home Tonight", and "Nine Lives") that can be heard if you make it through the entire Story Mode. Sound effects, especially when character's are thrown into portions of the fighting environment are okay, but fall a shade under the technological greatness of DOA3's dazzling visual presentation. All the characters talk in Japanese, even the Americans Zack, Tina, and Bass, which is weird, but this game was designed with the Japanese fighting game fan in mind, so we'll let that go without too much complaint. Tecmo plans on also releasing sometime in the very near future a DOA3 expansion disc, which will incorporate many of the options that were supposedly only to be made available in the upcoming Japanese version of the game.

Because of the shallow single-player Story Mode, DOA3 ultimately fails by the slimmest of margins to surpass Soul Calibur as the greatest fighting game released. We'll see how it holds up to Virtua Fighter 4 and Soul Calibur 2 down the road. However, the game has one quality, an overwhelming delightful visual treat for your eyes, the original Soul Calibur doesn't provide nearly as well. Including the beautifully rendered Super Smash Bros. Melee for the GameCube, DOA3 certainly is the most impressive-looking console fighter released. Next to Halo, this is the one launch game that would make buying an Xbox worth every cent (all 29,999 of them) you paid for it.

- Lee Cieniawa
(December 2, 2001)

 

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