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reviews

Dead Or Alive 3


Developer
Team Ninja

Publisher
Tecmo

Genre
Fighting

Players
1 - 4

ESRB
T

Does the game live up to the hype or does it get lost in all that digital umů just read on.

If there's one phrase to completely cover Dead or Alive 3, what would it be? Sorry, but "she kicks high" is not an option. In fact, I don't think a single phrase could completely describe Tecmo's Dead or Alive 3. But what makes it so much different than it's predecessor, or any other fighter for that matter?

On top of the list is its graphics. We've all heard how great they are, but once more won't hurt. Because Dead or Alive 3 was built from the ground up to take advantage of the Xbox hardware, it's no wonder they are so good. The characters are insanely detailed, from hair to clothes. Everything about them looks and moves fluidly, and it's definitely noticeable. I often found myself looking and trying to find every detail on the fighters; as well as the great animation put into every part of their body, clothes, and hair. One of the big things I noticed was the lighting and reflection effects. As the characters move, the shadows on and around them change to the degree of light. I did, however, have only one complaint. As with Dead or Alive 2, character clipping is apparent, and you'll see legs cross through the other players often. Thankfully, it doesn't affect gameplay, and it's not too noticeable, as you'll mainly be concentrating on the fight.

While the characters look great, what really stands out are the levels. Water seems to be a definite plus in detail on the Xbox, and it's no exception on Dead or Alive 3's levels. Puddles, ponds, and oceans move and splash as you fight your way through and in them. Reflections throughout your arenas are everything, from burning lights on surfaces to lights on buildings. Snow will fall from branches as your virtual body crashes into a tree; fall struck leaves will flow through the air; and glass will break on contact.

One of the big things Dead or Alive 2 had was its level interactivity. It's certainly here in the sequel, but in almost every arena! See that wall, lamp, tree, snow, glass, or huge electric bolt of energy that you shouldn't touch? Want to throw your enemy into it? Go ahead! It's all possible, and most definitely adds to the excitement of battles.

There should be no concerns about audio, as Tecmo did an excellent job on it's voice acting. During cut scenes and beginning/ending taunts, the actors sound like they're in the game, and not some crazy stereotypes. Sound effects are also done very well, from your usual grunts, snorts, snaps, and crashes. It's also fun listening to some of the characters noises during play, especially Jann Lee's 'waataa'!

Gameplay is definitely fun, and feels in some way different than it's predecessors. It's like a whole new bag of jellybeans. [Uh, jellybeans? - Ed.] But why does it feel different, and what sets it apart from other fighters, are the one billion dollar questions. Let's first take a look at the characters. Of course with every sequel you get new fighters. In Dead or Alive 3, you get three of them. You'll be able to play as the young female Hitomi, drunken master Brad Wong, the beautiful woman assassin Christie, and of course, all of the originals. Total, there are 16 characters to play initially (there are surprises). Each character comes with more moves than before, and different extra costumes. A big plus is the added freedom; you now have the ability to move around more freely than before, which adds to the overall speed of the game.

At the end of Christie's story mode we get arrested for, oh nevermind.

There are nine self-explanatory modes within the game. Story Mode is your basic main course, which allows you to play a story involving the character you have selected. Once you complete the game with the character, you'll see an ending movie, which will be stored in a new section called Theatre, where you can watch them as many times as you want. Time Attack is a mode in which your score represents the time it takes to clear the game of computer opponents. If your score ranks among the top 10, your name can be entered. Next up is Versus Mode, where you can play your friends in a single or tag team match with all 16 Dead or Alive 3 fighters. Survival Mode makes you fight against a succession of computer opponents until your health is depleted, and points are added according to the time it takes to complete a match. Luckily, your health will recover a certain amount after each round is over, so you shouldn't be sweating beads and bleeding from the fingers.

In Tag Team Mode, you choose two characters that you will use throughout the match. It's basically a two on two match, and it's pretty damn fun. You can even perform tag combos, in which both of your characters will attack the enemy together. Team Battle Mode is a little different. You choose five characters this time, and fight against other teams. I recommend playing Sparring Mode first, otherwise you'll end up getting owned very quickly. Sparring Mode is your basic training mode, which will let you practice your moves on a non-moving to moving A.I. Finally you have Watch Mode, which let's you watch two A.I. duke it out; and Options Mode, which allows a player to change game settings to their preferences.


Some people just like to watch - and now they have a mode of their own.

However, let's not forget, there is a story behind Dead or Alive 3 and not just the characters. The prologue begins with Ryu Hayabusa, who defeated Tengu Bankotsu-bo in the previous tournament. However, it was too late to stop the destruction, and a worldwide collapse occurred. The planet becomes hunting grounds for power-hungry scam artists. This is when DOATEC's Development Department completes the Omega Project, producing a new superhuman, Genra. Genra was once human, but unfortunately no longer. This is where the World Combat Championship, Dead or Alive 3, comes in; the exclusive domain of the Omega superhuman.

There are a good number of modes to play with, as well as characters and levels. With the variety of fighters, moves, levels, and being able to move more freely, the game feels faster. Dead or Alive 3 is certainly a good solid fighter, and you should undoubtedly have fun.

The controls are pretty much the same as it's predecessors, but it sure does feel a heck of a lot better on the Xbox controller pad. The directional pad is for movement, X is for free (hold and guard), Y is for punch, A is for throw, B is for kick, white button is punch + kick, black button is for tag change (in Tag Team Mode only), and right trigger is used as free + kick. The control is pretty easy to use, and doing moves will soon become second nature. There are no complaints coming from this hungry hippo.

Overall, the game looks, sounds, plays, and feels great. It's a great fighter for the Xbox launch, and plays smoothly. Playing through the modes is enjoyable, especially watching the movies throughout Story Mode. Dead or Alive 3 is definitely one to check into if you like fighters, and should be in your library for quite some time.

Scott "VeX" Kuss
Dear Christie, call me at 555-5683(LOVE).

Dead Or Alive 3: The Scores

Graphics

Sound

Gameplay

Depth

Presentation

Overall

9.5

9.5

9.0

8.5

8.9

9.0


The Final Word:  Graphics are great, not many complaints there - except the issue of clipping. For a fighter, the audio is as good as it's going to get, as the voice actors did a very good job. Gameplay is fun for a fighter, fluid and fast. As a fighting game, there are a lot of options available, adding to the shelf life. It's hard to wrap up such a neat package in any prettier bow. DOA 3 should be a must have for all fans of the genre because it looks good, it sounds good, it feels good, and gosh darn it, it plays good!


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