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?
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".