Today we have a review of the Xbox's latest release, DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball. I can't say it really felt "Xtreme" enough to justify the title but let's face it, developers will take any opportunity to use that golden word to drive sales. Is the game any good? Should you buy it? Read on!Warning! Sexy Images Inside!
I must admit, doing a review for Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball with any sense of professionalism is difficult at best. DOAX is not a game that wants you to take it seriously, and the missing Ã‚"EÃ‚" in Ã‚"XtremeÃ‚" is only the beginning. YouÃ‚'re here to stare at gorgeous women, buy them skimpy outfits, gamble and, uh, what was that other thing? Oh, right, occasionally play some volleyball. This isnÃ‚'t Pro-Bass Sim Fisherman by any stretch, this is a heavy T&A game with maybe 50% actual volleyball.
IÃ‚'ll admit I had some small issues with actually buying DOAX, mostly due to the three large breasted women on the front cover aiming their tits at every disapproving female in the store. This isnÃ‚'t helpful when youÃ‚'re trying to overcome the general perception that gamers are over-sexed, under-socialized losers who need virtual lives to get by. Normally I would drag my fiancÃƒÂ© into the store to convince the other dorks that I got plenty of real sex and I didnÃ‚'t need pretend women to satisfy my needs, I was just here for the game play. Unfortunately, she was unavailable (edit by hoochie Ã‚– Nor would I have gone. HeÃ‚'s on his own with this one. Ã‚"Only for review purposes!!Ã‚" Riiiight.) so I dragged Gaald along to at least prove I had a real friend and not just pretend ones like Elysium.
Anyway, my point is DOAX can be hard to purchase if youÃ‚'re a sissy or under eighteen. They carded me. Seriously.
What About The Wife?
So if you can actually manage to buy the game, how will you get it past the wife? Well, I hate to tell you this but if you have a significant other who has no understanding of gaming you could be in a lot of trouble. Go ahead and convince yourself that youÃ‚'re the man of the house and no woman is going to tell you what you can and cannot play. Go on then, get it out of your system, I can wait. ThereÃ‚"… we all done? Good.
If your wife/girlfriend sees you playing this you will fall so low on her scale of respect that you may end up snuggling with the couch until you destroy the CD and beg for forgiveness. I pity the man who tries to justify playing a game where one of the main features is watching a virtual women stretch while you pan the camera and zoom in on her virtual crotch.
Luckily for me, my fiancÃƒÂ© plays her share of games and understands that sometimes you have to dig through piles of sexiness to get to the core volleyball game play. So she tolerates it, which is niceÃ‚"…if not slightly suspicious.
Playing the Game
You show up on the island and after picking your character youÃ‚'re introduced to the game by Tina. She walks you through the bare basics and teams up with you for your first volleyball game. The day essentially falls into four slices which are morning, daytime, sunset and evening. When you wake up to your first full day without Tina you must figure out how youÃ‚'re going to get a new volleyball partner so you can actually challenge other teams. The way to do this is find out what the other women like and buy them gifts at the accessory shop, the sports shop or Zack of all Trades. To find out what colors women like, what their hobbies are and if they despise your character you simply need to flip through the bios found in the manual.
When you purchase a gift and have it wrapped you may then find the character on the island and present your gift to them. Each gift given takes up one slice of your day so if you bought a gift for Hitomi and gave it to her, that would be your morning. For the afternoon you could head to the pool and enjoy some button sensitivity training (remember kids, all buttons should be treated equally) through a mini-game that has your girl jumping across the pool on some floating pads. The idea is that the harder you press your button, the further your girl jumps. So depending on the distance between the pads, you need to press your button with a certain amount of pressure. This may seem irrelevant but it does improve your actual volleyball skills and you can earn a bit of quick cash while you do it. Now that youÃ‚'ve finished at the pool, you can consider your afternoon gone.
This leaves you with sunset and you still canÃ‚'t challenge anyone to a game of volleyball because you still donÃ‚'t have a partner. You can decide to take a chance and ask Hitomi to join you even though youÃ‚'ve only given her one gift. Whether she says yes or no, that will take up your sunset time and leave you with the evening. In the evening you receive a gift from Zack and you also have the opportunity to send gifts to other women in their rooms. You wonÃ‚'t see any women in this portion of the game, just menu screens and the gambling interface.
IÃ‚'m going to let you fancy pants developers in on a little secret; video gambling with no real money involved is boring. It doesnÃ‚'t matter if youÃ‚'re playing poker, blackjack, roulette or slot machines, itÃ‚'s all boring. The fact that you have to suffer through gambling if you want to make some coin in the evenings is bad enough but the real kicker is that you donÃ‚'t even get to stare at the women while you do it. ItÃ‚'s all just the interface and the invisible dealer, thatÃ‚'s it. Thank you for tacking on this pathetic filler feature, Team Ninja. Keep up the good work.
Other Stuff That IsnÃ‚'t Volleyball
There are other ways to occupy your time during the day other than giving gifts and begging women to be your friends. You can hit different areas of the island and view a canned animation of your character doing stuff. Ã‚"StuffÃ‚" can be anything from stretching her graceful limbs to swinging on a swing, all while you pan the camera around and watch your girl get busy. It takes up a slice of your day to do it but somehow I donÃ‚'t think many of you will mind too terribly much. Other than that, shopping for the newest items at the stores is pretty much it.
Speaking of Stores and Items
An impressive collection of bathing suits and accessories await you as you play through the game. There are un-told amounts of expensive swim-suits to buy and dress-up in throughout the game. Each item you do purchase will be added to your collection which is carried over from game to game. For those of you who have to collect everything, you will find plenty to keep you busy for untold hours of play time. Of course, buying bathing suits and gifts requires money and the best way to make money is to play some actual volleyball.
Finally, Actual Volleyball!
LetÃ‚'s assume that youÃ‚'ve finally coerced a woman to join you in your cause of righteous volleyball ass kicking. You can then begin spending your days challenging other pairs to games of actual volleyball, each round taking up one slice of your day. Games are played to seven points and each rally is for a point whether you served or not. That means the games go quickly and youÃ‚'re always able to make a comeback with a few decisive rallies in your teamÃ‚'s favor.
Actually playing takes very little time to learn some heavy practice to master. There is no interface at all while you play so you need some time to get used to how the players react and what kind of timing is necessary for the perfect hit. You essentially only need two buttons and your control stick to play volleyball. One button represents receiving the ball and setting it up for a spike while the other is your attack button. You will get different results depending on how hard you apply pressure to the button and when you press it. For example, if youÃ‚'re approaching the net for a spike you need to press Ã‚"attackÃ‚" once to jump and then again to spike it down. Depending on when you hit the ball during your jump you will get different spikes as a result. Hit it too soon and you will find your spike going with less power, hit it too late and you may just hit the net. It sound pretty simple but there is enough variation in the controls to offer a good range of hits and plays depending on your skill.
My problems with the volleyball are few but irksome. First of all, like Beach Spikers before it, DOAXÃ‚'s camera suffers from swinging around a lot. You will often find that while the other team receives the ball, you will have no idea where your player is standing while the camera focuses on the action. Depth perception can also be a problem in positioning yourself to receive an attack when you view the play from a sideways perspective. Although the game is pretty forgiving when it comes to player placement, sometimes the camera will lead you to believe that youÃ‚'re much closer to where the ball is headed than you actually are. For the most part the camera does the job once you get used to it but I think weÃ‚'re still a ways off from the perfect system.
The other issue I have with volleyball is the lack of difficulty settings. After about six hours of play time I was winning almost all of my matches. This means that the game has boiled down to my putting in time so I can get cash and collect more stuff. ThatÃ‚'s all fine and good but I was really hoping for more of a challenge in the long run. You can of course play two-player in exhibition mode but only against each other and totally separated from the single player system.
To those of you that skipped down to this part, welcome to Gamers with Jobs! You thought I wouldnÃ‚'t notice your skimming? Well I did and to be quite honest, IÃ‚'m hurt and more than a little shocked that you would use me like this! Ok, deep breath.
DOAX is not worth buying unless you really like volleyball, half-naked virtual women and collecting stuff like the world is about to run out of it. I found myself enjoying the game once I got over the blatant T&A infusion and found the fun underneath all the exposed skin. I canÃ‚'t say it held my attention past a few days but it was a fun ride while it lasted. After all, you can only watch the same pretend women performing calisthenics for so long before it all starts to get old hat. I would recommend giving this quirky title a rental since it deserves at least that if only to appreciate the oddness of the whole package.
Just make sure you can sneak it under the radar of any women in your life who may be offended by such things. YouÃ‚'re only making it harder for the rest of us if you get caught.
Final Score: D Cup