Team Ninja
Tecmo
Fighting
1-4
11.15.01

Dead or Alive 3


DoA3 kicks ass. Fine, fine, painfully detailed ass.

It seems like as far as games go, there are some games that are just surrounded with the strangest buzz. One such game, or series even, is the Dead or Alive series. This series has always been surrounded by one of the most diverse love and hate situations this side of Jerry Springer. Some fans love the series for it's fast pace and action, some bash it saying it's just a faster Virtua Fighter with gameplay that is not as solid. Some say the games have no replay; some can't get enough. And of course, you can't forget the babes. Some hate on the series for being so generous with the fan service, but the fans (and any man with a competent pair of testicles) of course, will take as much of said service as Team Ninja (the game's developer) is willing to render. So taking a look past the dust cloud of war-waging fanboys, how does Dead or Alive 3 really fare against its competitors?

Graphics

First and foremost, the first thing you're going to notice when you slide this disc into your Xbox is the jaw-dropping graphics. Thus far, there is no other game in the genre that quite stands up to the visuals you will find on this disc. The characters are all modeled beautifully (and I really mean beautifully), everything animates great, and the levels are absolutely huge. There are tons of subtle, yet very impressive touches to be found as well, such as the crystal clear reflections on glass floor, gorgeous water effects, brilliant real-time shadows (wait until you see the shadow the palm trees cast!) and fully animated hair and clothing. There's really nothing I can say that is wrong with the graphics, other than the simple and fairly boring menus.

Sound

Other than some nicely done voice samples and sound effects, the sounds you will find in Dead or Alive 3 are a pretty ho-hum affair. Not ho-hum as in catchy tunes, but ho-hum as in unmemorable, boring background music, that does as the name says -stay in the background. The game is complimented (though insulted would sound more appropriate) by a decent amount of original, lame songs. But that wasn't enough, no, Microsoft took the liberty of incorporating a few licensed, lame songs. Who is the licensee, you ask? None other than the rockin'-est, smack talkin'-est, bad boys around; Aerosmith!

That's all I got to say about that.

Gameplay

Now after you've got the audio/visual stimulus out of your head, what you're going to be coming back to long after the hype and the praises and the bashing, is the game play. Or is it? Well, it's hard to say. Plain and simple, Dead or Alive 3 is a very fun game, but there are some serious flaws here. Many have drawn comparisons between the Dead or Alive series and Sega's Virtua Fighter series, and rightfully so, as you play Dead or Alive largely the same way VF is played. You're given a punch, kick, and counter button, and pressing a direction on the D-pad in conjunction with an attack button performs various combos for you to perform. Now then, with VF and DoA playing so similar, why exactly is VF so highly regarded among fighting game aficionados, and DoA bashed so feverishly? Well put simply, DoA just doesn't match up in the strategy department. The explanation? A combination of things. First, DoA has a very extensive move list like VF, but while VF rewards you for learning your entire repertoire and makes you do so to be successful, half of DoA's moves you can forget about and play just as well. Secondly, DoA really lends itself to easy combos, you'll be able to learn a dozen combos in a minute by just pressing buttons. Finally, the speed of DoA just clinches everything, making easy combos fair game and long move lists useless.

Bottom Line:

Honestly though, while I can spew technical and strategic merits for an hour, at the end of the day, DoA's game play is damned fun. It won't win any medals for a perfectly balanced cast or an innovative control scheme, and it certainly won't be a tourney fighter, but it's still one of those games that you and your friends can play for hours.

The bottom line -DoA won't have your Virtua Fighter-toting friends getting jealous, but they and you will have a good time with this game. With a fair amount of play modes and ways to fight and it's fast and action packed game play, this game is definitely worth a look if you want a fun fighting game for your Box.

-Andy Wilson




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