It’s horribly cold these days, especially since I live in the wonderful city of Buffalo in New York where there is nothing but black clouds spurting out snow. How I wish it was summer and I was driving to the beach in my just sold Honda s2000 (convertible). Maybe that’s why those crazy kids over at Tecmo decided to bring the girls from the highly acclaimed Dead or Alive series into a beach volleyball game with some light casino action. With hundreds of swimsuits that you get to dress your very curvaceous women many people will understand why it has a mature rating. How can this get any better? Volleyball and beautiful women of DOA; how come the boys over at Tecmo didn’t think of this earlier?
The storyline of the games goes a little bit like this. Zack, from the previous DOA game, wins an outrageous amount of money at a casino. He then takes that money and does what everybody with lots of money would do, that’s right folks! He ends up buying an exotic island and naming it Zack Island. Zack (voiced by Dennis Rodman) then lures the girls of DOA to the island telling them that the 4th tournament is going to be held there. When the girls arrive to this exotic play land they realize that there is nothing to do but sit around lie in the sun, go shopping, gamble, and of course! Play Volleyball!
When you start the game you get to pick any girl from the DOA series plus a new character, Lisa. At the character select screen you get to see what each character’s interests are, this isn’t just filler information surprisingly, it actually comes in quite handy later. Each day in DOA is split up into sections, during these sections you get to pick what you would like your character to do. You can pick to mingle with players, sit by the pool, and play volleyball and other various activities.
The Volleyball part of the game is rather simplistic. I’ve played my own share of volleyball games and I was expecting an engine to outshine all other volleyball games. The main part of the game has two on two matches, the player that gets 7 points first win. Any team can make a point regardless if they’re serving. If the game is ties at 6 to 6 then the person that first scores 2 points wins. When playing volleyball you can control your character with the left analog stick, and two buttons. One button returns the ball into the other side of the court, while the other keeps the ball on your side of the net so you can set up spikes and other strategic moves such as taps to the empty space. My main complaint is during the spiking part of DOA, instead of having full control over your player the computer lines up the spike and even jumps for you. All that you need to do is aim for the open space on the court and hit the button lightly for a light hit or hit it harder for harder spike. You can also always cancel the spike and tap it over if you wanted to. By doing very well timed spikes or blocks you can win extra money, it’s like a little pat on the back to keep you playing the main part of the game.
Most of the time you’re only as good as your partner in the game, so it’s good to know that you can partner up with any girl on the island.
All that you need to do is ask them..... and court them with gifts according to their interests (told you those would come in handy). Think of it as dating, in order to be with someone you need to match their interests and make them like you, and it’s the same in the world of DOA. What if you run out of gifts you say? Well I’m pretty positive that the hundreds of items and clothing will make you quite busy for weeks to come. The relationship that you have with the character outside of the court is important in the court too. Longer relationships are a force to be reckoned with; your teammate will back you up in almost everything that you do, while a newer relationship will make more mistakes and therefore costing points.
After your hard day of play beach volleyball and relaxing in the sun you return to the hotel where you can play in the casino. This part of the game is just a stripped down version of a real casino. You can loose a lot of money and gain a lot of money too. There are slot machines, poker, roulette and blackjack for you to gain or loose your fortunes on.
After your two weeks of spending time in Zack Island the game ends. You can continue playing more weeks at Zack Island with all your items and your money but all the relationships are reset. The only real thing to do at this point is to finish the collection with your character. For you die hard people that want to collect every single item in the game be prepared to spend quite a long time sitting around waiting for the item to become available in the store.
The multiplayer part of the game is a two vs two volleyball game limited to only two people. The game pretty much plays like the single player game and I can see this being a very big party game since the volleyball engine is quite simply a easy system to get used to. I personally think that the control system is perfect for party situations but single player people might be looking for something more.
The graphics are some of the best 3d character models to step onto the Xbox. The animation is fluid and the players track the ball so you’ll never see any jerky motions that are unrealistic. The lighting is wonderful and adds a certain depth to the game that makes the graphics so nice. The characters spike, bump and block the balls in a realistic fashion. The girls aren’t overly exaggerated and their features are propionate. In short they’re absolutely beautiful and it’s shocking how much you end up glaring at a girl for a few minutes as if she was a supermodel walking down the street your way.
The soundtrack is something that you would expect to listen to on a sunny day on the beach. It’s made up of decent pop tracks adding to the overall flavor of the game. However you can use custom soundtracks, and I personally put on Radiohead while playing this game. It didn’t quite match but it made it more enjoyable for me since I was listening to music that I liked.
The characters talk in Japanese or English with a heavy Japanese accent, and at times the accent is so bad that you would rather have them just speak in Japanese. They call out the girl’s names so in no time you’ll know everyone’s names. They also make comments such as spike, block, and other little things of that nature.
This game is fun, the game is beautiful, and the sounds are very well done. The relationship system is very well thought out. However I feel that the gameplay is lacking. The overly simplistic control system makes for some nice matches however at the end I end up walking away feeling quite empty. I can see how the single player aspect of the game will dry up quite quickly and thus leaving the multiplayer game for party situations. Overall though the game does shine in many departments and if you don’t mind the simplistic controls then by all means go out and buy it.