Koei Tecmo’s second sequel to the long-running spin-off franchise (it started life in 2002 on the OG Xbox) has had a troubled year. When it was announced that the game would be released to only the Asian market the majority of people in the West put this down to the disinterest and terrible sales figures. While there was some disappointment it was relatively muted.
After an employee of Koei Tecmo took to Facebook to respond to some disappointed fans he riled up the anti-gamergate crowd, suddenly petitions were being made demanding it get a western release. Since then it has released in Asia and is available to import from www.play-asia.com for anyone who wants to experience it. Is it worth importing ‘Dead or Alive Xtreme 3’ (henceforth DOAX3) or is it best left in the East?
First things first this game is incredibly sexualised. Everything on offer here is designed to titillate gamers. To be fair to game though the character models are exquisitely beautiful, the girls are all beautifully rendered and animated and the Soft Engine Lite (or 2.0 on PS4) does an incredible job at making their bodies and clothes move and behave in a convincing way. The girls will sweat during games, they will get realistically wet in the water and they even tan in a realistic manner – there was clearly a lot of love put into the modelling of these ladies.
Beyond their looks the girls also have distinct personalities, some are bubbly and friendly while others are colder and harder to please. When you spend time with them you find yourself liking some and disliking others based entirely on their personalities rather than their looks! The girls are without a doubt the main reason why people will play this game.
Once you get beyond the initial “wow” of the graphics and the girls; you begin to see the cracks appear in the actual game. To begin with there is also no meaningful story in ‘DOAX3’; what is there acts as a setup for what you will experience – Zack Island has fallen foul of nature and been destroyed (for the second time). While Zack has rebuilt it, he has been called away on important business and left you in charge. It is your job to make sure the girls who vacation there are satisfied. And although the opening cinematic is fully aware of its conceit and it plays it with an air of joviality which is refreshing and entertaining; but it’s just fluff and serves absolutely no purpose. The only thing you need to know is that you have 14 days on the island to give the girls an amazing experience (each holiday takes roughly 3 hours to complete) and if you do this well enough you will get treated to a strip tease from your chosen girl.
Everything in the game revolves around the ladies, and there is a distinct Tamogachi approach to the girls. They all have their own desires, personalities and favourites (colour/item/clothing range etc) and it is up to you to meet their demands and treat them all equally. It is a fine balancing act to ensure you don’t neglect any of the girls! The easiest way of winning their affections is by partnering with them and making her feel valued by taking care of her needs and buying her gifts! It’s here that uncovers one of the games major issues; everything in the store is priced incredibly high! You are actively encouraged to buy the girls presents and swimsuits (in fact there are missions in which you have to buy one) and these can cost up to 1,000,000 credits; in order to gift them you have to wrap them, this costs HALF of the item price – if the girl refuses the gift, you must rewrap it (and pay again) in order to give it to another girl. Soon you are out of money (because of the 1,500,000 limit) and you have a choice; pay a micro-transaction fee or begin an incredibly long grind in order to get more credits.
You make money through the mini games (and they are all mini-games) and while they are fun diversions none of them offer any depth to make them legitimately good. Beach Volleyball is undoubtedly the best activity it has a difficulty curve, nuance in the controls and the requirement to control both your characters at the same time presents some actual gameplay; but at its core it is very simple with a lot of automation in play (spiking is half automated). In saying this I have a lot of fun with it and it’s become my go to game. The rest do not fare so well, games like ‘Pool Hopping’ and ‘Rock Climbing’ are unchallenging QTE segments that last roughly 30 seconds. And the rest (‘Butt Battle’ and ‘Tug Of War’) are skill-less exercises in guess work; you have two moves and have to pre-empt what your opponent will do. The games are largely unsatisfying but like fast food, you find yourself wanting to play them every now and then.
There is a surprising full-featured casino section to the game too; it has poker, roulette and blackjack which offer options that many “better” games don’t; like doubling down, placing tactical bets and playing the system. The girls all play the games with real personalities – Helena is an incredibly aggressive raiser and she will price you out of good hands, whereas Marie Rose is much more likely to fold if her hand isn’t good. The casino allows for some tactical play from the player and is a real highlight in the game (even though it is mostly luck).
The grind for clothes and hairstyles is just like a good MMO, you know that you are repeating quests and activities for hours on end but the reward at the end is just enough to ensure you do it again. The addiction kicks in and suddenly its four hours later and you’ve gotten 5 bikinis for the girls – most importantly though is that you’ll feel that you had fun!
Overall ‘DOAX3’ is not a terrible game, but it is vapid, quick fire and relatively skill-less but the graphics, girls, casino games and rewards provide the game with enough to elevate it above its faults. We have a game that is more than the sum of its parts and despite my better judgement I had a lot of fun with it.