Oh Dead or Alive. Such a great and interesting fighting game series since it’s first appearance in 1996. It was known as a great fighting series that was up with Street Fighter and Tekken with it simple but deep combat system. Since the rise of Itagaki’s reputation, Dead or Alive is now known as the series that pioneered fighting games with breast physics. Needless to say, it raised their reputation enough to grant them the Xtreme spin-off series. It has come a long way since it’s first iteration on the original Xbox and the second entry on the Xbox 360. Controversial or not, it has earned a place in the gaming sphere. As we close out the Summer, let’s create some memories with Dead or Alive Xtreme 3.
While this is a beautiful entry on the PS4 and pleasing in many senses, it’s is held back by many aspects, limitations and questionable development choices.
Game Name: Dead or Alive Xtreme 3
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (reviewed), PlayStation Vita
If you have played the previous entries, you already know what you’re getting yourself into. Zack is back to his ways and raised another island to trick the ladies to attend once again, and give them a vacation. The only main change is that Zack will not be involved in the escapades. Instead, he assigns you, the player, to be the owner of the island and make sure the ladies enjoy their vacation ( and leer at them in the process). That is all in regards to anything relating a story. There’s no UFO’s, no natural disasters, nothing that can be said that serves a narrative purpose. That is pretty much the game. Make them happy, live out your fantasies and get the chosen charatcer’s ending which make them say thank you at the end like a dating sim. If you said “That’s so simple”, that’s because it is. So lets start at the bottom of this.
If you played the previous entries in the series, you know the drill. You first pick one of the nine girls to play with. Then play as them for 14 days, separated into four phases; from morning, day, afternoon, and nighttime. The goal is to attempt to fill their excitement and satisfactions levels at the end of the 14 days to get their specific ending. Let’s address the elephant in the room here. They had plenty of time to develop this game. WHY DON’T YOU JUST PUT IN EVERYONE?! Just because you want to hold a popularity contest to determine who should be in the entry is no excuse. The popularity contest itself is questionable in its own right. While I understand that you want some of the newer characters to be represented, you should already have the resources to add all of them. Plus, a Dead or Alive game without the main staple characters, like Lei Fang, Tina Armstrong, Lisa, or Christie?
After you pick your girl and decide if you want to partner up with another girl, you are free to spend your vacation however you want for the next fourteen days. For the major part of the day, you can relax, buy items like swimsuits and gifts, and conduct in physical activities like volleyball, rock climbing, butt battles, tug-of-war, pool hopping, and beach flags. As for the mini-games mentioned: That’s it. They took out the wave racing and tubing mini-games that were in the last entry, which was the most active of the bunch. Aside from volleyball, the other mini games just fall flat, especially the Rock Climbing. The mini game is just quick time presses with occasional two button prompts with L1 or R1.
Another part that may cause frustrations is the difficulty spike. Volleyball and Pool Hopping is manageable when facing a hard AI opponent, but the other games like Beach Flags is just down right brutal. You are required to have lightning reflexes if you want to beat that mini-game with a Hard AI. It felt they took a step back on what made the second entry fun.
Making a return for night time activities is the casino games, but no longer making a return is the slot machines. The games available are Roulette, Black Jack, and Poker. This is just if you want to gain more Zack Dollars to get any new bikinis or items. Overall, mini-games are pretty average with few exceptions.
One new feature they added in this iteration is the Owner Mode. There is Girl Mode, who you play as the female selected, and Owner mode which is play as yourself. However, there is only so much you can do in this mode. Team Ninja wanted to incorporate a dating sim aspect in which you can create a relationship with the girl you selected. But the most you can do is either “observe” her when they conduct physical activities like volleyball, or when they simply relax. The only way to interact with them in by giving them gifts, like swimsuits and random gifts from the store, like RC planes, food and drink, and Sundries. Another thing they added is missions that correlate to either girl or owner mode. The reasons for these missions is to earn Zack dollars for the owner mode, increase your owner level, and to increase your lady’s affection rate.
The higher the affection rate, the less likely they will turn down your gift, no matter how offensive or risque it may be, like the coveted Fortune bikini. There is an exclusive owner shop that has charter specific outfits and seasonal bikinis/outfits that you can doll them up with, like a towel as shown below. However, the grind to earn the Zack dollars can be tedium at times, unless you utilize the trick that utilizes the Roulette mini-game and save data. One more flaw to point out is if you are really desperate, you can buy premium tickets via micro transactions to get said exclusive bikinis , which is an obvious cash grab by Koei Tecmo.
If any goal for Owner mode, as said in the beginning, it is to fill their satisfaction meter full at the end of the 14 days and to get their characters specific ending, thanking you for a relaxing vacation and providing one last view of them, and the fireworks in the night sky. Team Ninja wanted you to think that the acknowledgment of the ladies and words of gratitude at the end justifies all the earning of Zack dollars, gift giving and mini-game tasks were worth it. Though you can already see the hollowness of it all.
So mini games are average and tedious, whether a girl accepts your gift is random, and making them happy is a chore. Is there anything good to be said about this game? Well, the only thing that seems to be good is just how detailed they can make the ladies look, but that also has problems. They wanted to continue the Gravure ideology , to set your heart ablaze without going over the line, and it does the job. This game is all about eye candy and fan service and if you just want to observe, then the game has done its job. They emphasize the water effects from the main fighting games, but Xtreme, they added a tan feature in which depending if you applied sundries, you can see the bikini tan lines and see your lady in with a newly applied skin tan.
All these effects look fairly pretty, though in certain parts you notice the breaks in illusion, such as hair and bikini clipping through the body and breasts.
And to add in the name of fan service, there is the “Wardrobe malfunctions” in which specific bikinis can come undone to reveal more and set your heart ablaze. Some more effective than others.
The last thing to mention is that this game is meant for you to take pictures. From the activities to their specific relaxation cut scenes, should you choose, you can fill gigabytes and albums of the ladies in your hard drive. So if you want to channel your inner Playboy/Sports Illustrated photographer, then Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is for you. Here are some shots from yours truly.
So to wrap this all up, Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is a great visual service for the eyes. From its fair focus on the detail of the ladies and different impacts of tan, water, and shine effects, the game’s purpose is to let you enjoy the view. But that is it. The mini-games are average at best and the grind to get Zack dollars to get specific bikinis that you want is troublesome. The game’s 14-day cycle can easily be completed in one 5-hour sitting. The only reward for it all is just appreciating the view and beauty of the ladies. A game just for “relaxation” purposes on those summer days.
You can order yours at Play-Asia, which you can use the link here.
Stay for the View, Leave for the Grind
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 excels at the visual impact of the ladies, but falls on the gameplay. With the grinding of Zack Dollars to get the bikinis that you want, the stay can be painful. Volleyball is the best mini game of the bunch while others aren’t to par. The game knows you are here just for the ladies, so enjoy the view, take some photos, earn some money and bikinis, and get your lady’s ending while on your stay at Zack Island.