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reviews >> xbox
Dead Or Alive 3

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Tecmo
Developer: Team Ninja
Year Released: 2001
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: Teen

Visuals 9
Probably the reason why so many people bought this game. It's very detailed and very sharp. I wish the characters had more human-like faces (instead of something that belongs in anime).
Audio 7
Decent sound effects, bizarre sounding voices and music that's bordering on white noise.
Gameplay 7.5
There's not much to do here but fight, and the game modes are very thin. The fighting model is decent, but not revolutionary.
Replay Value 7
The story mode is over way too soon, and the only things left afterwards are the time attack, survival and multiplayer modes. It doesn't last long.
Reviewer's Impression 7
If there was more to do, and if the AI wasn't as unbalanced as it was, it would be a great game. Having great graphics and little else just doesn't fly with me, and it's one of the worst things a developer can do to make a quick buck.
Overall 7.5
If you're a whore for graphics or peverted enough to get it off on CG cleavage, then have at DOA 3. But if you're looking for depth, replay value and balanced difficulty, look elsewhere. It's a fine addition to the Xbox library if you get it on the cheap (as everyone else thinks that you and I should own it), but no way in hell was this worth the original $49.99 price.

Sometimes it's great to put a game through it's paces, to see how they can stand the test of time. I'll admit, I didn't even own an Xbox until February 2004, which is about two and a half years after it's launch. I have been quickly catching up on everything the console has to offer, even playing a good number of it's launch titles such as Project Gotham Racing, Halo and now, Dead Or Alive 3. Dead Or Alive 3 was one of the best known launch titles for the system, mainly for it's graphics. Not much was said about the gameplay except the fact that there were "multi-tiered" arenas, and that it was a fighter. But people bought it (as it was one of the only fighters available on launch), maybe not as much as Halo or even Project Gotham, but it sold well. A lot of good things were said about this game when it came out on launch, but how does it do almost three years later to someone who's played it for the first time? Let's find out!

Dead Or Alive 3 may have seemed a bit "next-gen" to those who bought it on the launch of the Xbox. Mostly, it was because of the graphics and the larger-than-usual arenas. But now, after playing games such as Soul Calibur II, Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Dead Or Alive 3 is a very shallow fighting game. There are very few gameplay modes, including story mode (which is awful), time attack (which is fine), survival (which I thought was rather creative) and a "mutiplayer" mode. While this seems acceptable and even the "norm" for a lot of fighters, it's terribly shallow here. The story mode is non-sensical and almost a waste of time. You are almost given nothing to go off of in terms of each player's motivations (I.E., THE STORY), what IS given in terms of story is just plain bad, and playing through is almost pointless, not to mention very short. When you see modes such as the Konquest mode in MK:DA or the Weapon Master mode in Soul Calibur II, you realize what was done in DOA3 was just plain dull. As for the Time Attack and Survival modes, they serve their purpose well in providing 5-10 minutes of quick fighting action and setting records. Those two modes can almost be considered the "meat" of the game. Unless you play against another person in the "multiplayer" mode. Then you might get a little more from the game.

Aside from the problem of lacking length to the game, another one of DOA3's problems comes from the unbalanced AI opponents. It has an odd fluctuation of just standing there and taking your shots to being an incredible bastard who can counter your every mood. It's like the CPU has some kind of bi-polar disorder, going from easy to hard, and back to easy. And it's not like it's even a progression of difficulty, it's seemingly random. The fighting system is fairly decent, but not terribly new. It's almost similar to Virtua Fighter 4's, where you have a punch, kick, and guard buttons. That right there isn't terrible, just something I've seen before.

The undoubtable draw to DOA3 on the day of the launch was the graphics, which was probably the best out of all the titles offered at the time. But how do they fare now? They're still pretty good, but lack some of the things we see later on in the Xbox's life. First of all, the character models stand to be one of the most detailed things in the game, with smooth animations, great detail to their clothing, and some rather ample cleavage with the trademark DOA "jiggle". The environments are great, with some sharp texturing, large attention to detail, good lighting effects and so forth. But it seems to be devoid of any bump-mapping, which is usualy seen in many top-tier Xbox titles. Overall, the visuals still hold up well, even when compared to games such as Soul Calibur II.

The audio belongs in the blooper reel, though, as it's one of the weaker elements of the game. The sound effects are fine, but par for the genre. The voices are another thing altogether. While it's nice that it's still in it's original Japanese dub (and not another god-awful English translation), some characters seem to have a higher pitch in voice than they should, and even some have some odd echoing. The "ring announcer" is in English, and is obnoxious as hell. Not only that, the voice seems totally out of place in the game. The music is almost is absorbed by the rest of the game, and sometimes you forget it's even there. Why didn't Team Ninja put as much effort into the sound as they did for visuals?

Final Thought

Dead Or Alive 3 isn't a terrible game, but it's one that will become much more shallow and basic as the years go by. So much effort went into making the game look "pretty", that everything else, such as gameplay and replay value, took a back seat. That tends to be one of the more unfortunate things about launch titles, is that there will be a lot of emphaisis on the looks, and not much else on the gameplay. Luigi's Mansion for the Gamecube is another good example of this. While this game may have been considered "next-gen" and "revolutionary" on the day of it's launch, if it were released today, it would be nothing more than "by-the-numbers".