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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Tecmo

 

Developer

Tecmo

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q1 2003

 

 

- Probably some of the best graphics on the Xbox
- Great attention to detail
- Actual volleyball action is pretty good

 

 

- Not that much volleyball action
- Lack of game modes
- Camera angle during matches doesn’t allow a full view of the court
- Only supports two-player simultaneous

 

 

Review: Dead or Alive 2 (Dreamcast)

Review: Dead or Alive 3 (XBox)

Review: Dead or Alive 4 (360)

 

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DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

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Here’s a challenge for you. Find the volleyball on the Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball (XBV) package. You’d think with the words, “Xtreme” and “Volleyball” the package would be spotted with them. There’s but one – tucked in the shadows of one screenshot. This should be your first clue of things to come. XBV could have been alternately titled DOA Casino, Playboy’s Girls of DOA, or DOA Dress-up. If you’re expecting a deep volleyball simulation, forget it.

It’s not hyperbole to say that XBV is probably the best-looking Xbox title yet. The graphics are slick and smooth and even those that have no interest in scantily clad girls will admit XBV's graphical prowess. The attention to detail is mind-blowing in some respects – can you think of one other game that you can watch your

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character tan? – but in terms of game modes, technical play and direction XBV, will disappoint.

There are two game modes: “Story” and Exhibition. Exhibition is your main mode for actually playing volleyball. The story mode (or Zack Island mode) is where items like swimsuits are unlocked and the girls’ animated curves can be oogled. (One gets the

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feeling the titles should have been switched.) This mode lacks coherence. Your character goes to Zack Island on the premise of taking part in the 4th Dead or Alive Tournament but winds up playing beach volleyball instead. The actual volleyball portion isn’t all that satisfying during the story mode.

The control mechanics for the volleyball games are very simple – move with the left stick, and A and B handles everything else. This makes it easy for new players to start playing volleyball quickly but all too soon the match is finished and you’re booted off the beach to scout another match, hit the boutiques or radio station, or take part in one of the most inane mini-games I’ve ever played at the poolside. Or you can visit an unoccupied section of beach and watch your character dance, do push-ups, stretch, frolic, caress fallen trees, and basically behave like no woman ever would in real life – and you get to handle the camera work. (And telling your wife or girlfriend, “I’m just appreciating the graphics,” just won’t fly.)

The boutiques are there so 1) you can outfit your character (right down to nail color) and 2) buy gifts for the other characters in the hopes that they’ll partner with you in future matches. This borders on some kind of Barbi-esque, make friends simulation – a severe separation from Dead or Alive 3. Some will no doubt view this as a strategic feature – make stronger alliances, win more matches, earn more money, etc. I just think it’s a pity there aren’t more game modes included, like Tournament or a Skills Competition, especially when you haven’t got the hang of currying favor and you spend wasted days trying to partner with someone else after your partner leaves (particularly if you don’t pay attention to the information in the manual).

 

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This is why I spent far more time in Exhibition mode, which unfortunately only supports two-player multiplayer. The actual volleyball action is good, even if it doesn’t require much skill. That’s not to say there’s no skill involved – more experienced players will pick-up on the nuances – it’s just that everyone will be able to jump in and play. But you'll still have to deal with an only so-so camera that shows only one side of the court at a time making proper positioning mostly guesswork.

There are few touches that make XBV necessary for DOA fans and one of them is the original TV ad for DOA3 (that comes as a gift). “She kicks high,” is still hilarious. And let me just repeat this, read the manual from cover to cover. The last line of the last page of information, there’s a reference to checking out Survival Mode in DOA3.

I’m almost sure the hate mail will come pouring in, but if DOA: Xtreme Beach Volleyball were a female model, she’d be all beauty and no brai— well, she wouldn’t be writing dissertations on deep sea sponge formations or even be able to explain where sand comes from. Tecmo has made a visually awesome game and a generally good volleyball game (in Exhibition) but there’s just not enough substance to keep casual gamers interested beyond its good looks.

- Omni
(February 12, 2003)

 

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