Dead or Alive Xtreme 2
The Dead or Alive girls don’t have feelings. They have mysteriously vague stories attached to their stereotypical female impersonator roles. These plots never carry much meaning (the earmarks of a terrible translator/translation team). An attempt is made to make up for this lack of character development with supple, perky breasts and kicks of the high variety. Every once in a while the all-female cast need to indulge in the finer points of life. They’re women of high class after all – always keeping their head held high – their noses even more so.
From the depths of the ocean, Zach sits in his personal submarine with his soon-to-be wife, overlooking the ruins of Zach Island, which crumbled into the sea at the end of Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. He yells “say hello to my little friend!” And proceeds to press a red button with his finger, calling upon a satellite orbiting earth… This causes the island to resurface and “The New Zach Island” is born.
Then like any soon-to-be-married man, he sends letters to 8 well-endowed women, notifying them of an upcoming fighting tournament. Unlike the common bachelor party, however, Zach never actually makes any sort of contact with the girls. He just sends them strange gifts every night of their vacation and pays them to participate in strange competitions so they won’t follow-up on the supposed reason they’ve been dragged to the island. Then the girls pay the money back, in return for bikinis.
While this is impractical in a big way, it’s pretty cool for the voyeur in all of us. Men of all ages can now spend hours upon hours shopping, mostly buying swimsuits for their scantily clad goddesses of the beach. This is the only portion of Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 that has the upper-hand on its predecessor. There’s a lot of stuff to buy for your fellow island-hoppers, as well. But the girls are so fickle that pleasing them in any way is unfeasible. Unfortunately, if there isn’t a continuous flow of just the right gifts in just the right colour of wrapping paper going in their direction, the girls will end their friendship with your chosen femme fatal. To make matters worse, it’s never made quite clear what the recipient likes or dislikes about your gifts and there’s no consistent way to gauge the friendship.
It’s really hard to care about collecting all of Dead or Alive Xtreme 2’s items. Using the items results in a sentence describing a feeling it gave your character or what the item did. It’s really a waste of time. Using items which match the character’s preferences just informs you that it reminds them of their childhood. Was that really worth an hour of work to unlock the tenth item with that very description?
It depends on how you earned the money.
Notice that volleyball has been dropped from the title? All of the attributes that made it interesting in the original are gone. In an effort to further-develop the action, Team Ninja ruined what gave the game charm. Now the camera follows the ball, which makes things unnecessarily challenging on your side of the court. Placing your character in the right position is now paramount to success. It would be much easier if the ball cast a more reliable shadow upon the ground. Even then it would be difficult to find rhythm in the unreliable game speed. Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 makes me yearn for a simpler time, when volleyball was a one-handed affair. Ironically, I spent the majority of my playing time in the casino on Slots, Blackjack, and the Roulette Wheel. I imagine this is where Team Ninja decided to leave things as they were.
Turns out Wave Race is a natural fit for the latest island excursion. It’s all so tropical. Glistening water accumulating on the camera-lens as jet-skis cut through. Luscious legs of virtual girls, accentuating movement in time with oft-turbulent waves. Raggedy Ann doll-looking hair taken up by the gentle caress of the ocean breeze. Watercrafts jettisoning through a trough. Roaring machines reliable as clockwork until they hit land. Penalized with 30-seconds of a stammering screen and a lost Marina race. Taking short-cuts which don’t allow for re-entrance to the course.
If that doesn’t sound like fun, you’ll despise the gameplay experience found in Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 just as much as I did. It’s a given that the Xbox 360 sequel has slightly better graphics, but they don’t justify the aforementioned gameplay or the subsidiary poolside mini-games. Xtreme 2 represents a large step in the wrong direction for one of gaming’s finest development teams.