These days, sports titles are a dime a dozen. There’s Madden for football fans, Fifa for
football soccer, and MLB the Show for baseball. Each of which caters to one specific sport and its fans. Unfortunately, this limits the audience of each sports title, unable to attract the attention of the average gamer. What if there was a game that was more than just a sports title? Aiming to fill this void comes the beach volleyball title Dead or Alive: Xtreme 3. But is Xtreme 3 the perfect sports title, or does it crash and burn like Zack Island in Xtreme 2?
While Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is the successor of Xtreme 2, its story directly follows Dead or Alive 5: Last Round. After not one, but two failed attempts, DOA veteran Zack rebuilds the infamous Zack Island. Not having enough time to run the business himself, however, he leaves the pleasure to the player. Wanting things to start with a bang, Zack sends out nine golden tickets to nine lucky girls. Each with their own reasons, the girls all accept Zack’s invitation and set out for the third (and perhaps final) Zack Island.
Being prominently from fighting games, not much about Kasumi’s and friends lives is known outside DOA tournaments. This is especially true when concerning the series’s new combatants such as Honoka and Marie Rose. Xtreme 3 takes the girls away from the action and allows them to truly develop as characters. Will Ayane accept Kasumi as her volleyball partner? Will Momiji enjoy Hitomi’s gift? What of Honoka’s grandmother? These are the hard-hitting questions that only Xtreme 3 can answer.
When it comes to Madden, Fifa, and The Show, devs just can’t help but let their athletes fall victim to the uncanny valley. Just like the ancient Romans before them, Koei Tecmo seeks perfection over realism. This allows the DOA girls to come to life in beautiful HD. As with Dead or Alive 5 before it, Xtreme 3 lets its girls play in the dirt. As the game progresses, the girls get dirty, sweat, and can even tan! Despite the typical stylized character designs, these lifelike elements bring the girls to life in a way like no other game before it.
At its core, Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is a beach volleyball game. Each match takes place between two two-women teams. The player’s team is made up of their chosen MC as well as their befriended partner. The volleyball part of the game is simple enough with its very basic controls. Xtreme 3 surpasses its predecessor with tighter controls and updated partner and enemy AI. This not only makes each match more balanced, but a lot of fun as well.
Aside from volleyball, Xtreme 3 offers a plethora of mini-games. Beach Flags, for example, pits the player and their partner against each other in the art of button mashing. For more precise inputs, Pool Hopping plays like a rhythm game, requiring the correct timing of a random button. Then there is but battling, which is probably the closest that the game gets to the main series of games. As a new addition to the series, the player may even romance their own player character. Just try not to forget her favorite color while wrapping gifts.
For various reasons that do not make a lot of sense out loud, Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 has yet to be released out of Japan and Asia. That being said, the English version is still available online via Hong Kong’s PlayStation store. While the game has been (almost) entirely subtitled, the game only includes the original Japanese voices. They should ring a bell to veterans of the series. Whether they originate from Dead or Alive or Ninja Gaiden, these now iconic voices still fit each character like a glove. From the stubbornly naïve Kasumi to the air headed Honoka, the game’s voice talents remind players yet again about why these characters are so iconic. And that is music to our ears.
Perhaps it is just one of those days, but it feels impossible to find any fault with Dead or Alive Xtreme 3. Xtreme 3‘s story should revolutionize career modes going forward. Honoka’s plot especially is too good to ignore. Let us not forget that the game’s beach volleyball matches easily give EA Sports a run for their money.
HEY! HEY!! LISTEN!!! gives Dead or Alive Extreme 3 10 Zack Bucks out of 10!
Pros: Compelling underdog story, amazing graphics, addicting gameplay. Cons: Too much water, April Fools!