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Dead or Alive 3 Review

publisher: Tecmo
developer: Team Ninja
genre: Action

ESRB rating: T

release date: 2001
» All About Dead or Alive 3 on ActionTrip

I'm a big fan of beat-em-up games. Even though I'm a PC gamer in heart, I really can't resist a good gamepad whacking every now and then, and what better way to safely whack someone on the head (er, yeah) than to give Dead or Alive 3 a try? Man, this will be one of the hardest reviews I've ever written, simply because I cannot find a single thing wrong with this game. For what it's primarily intended, DoA3 is damn-nearly perfect!

What's more, it's a legitimate console game developed for the Xbox. Unlike HALO, which craved for some decent mouse action, DoA3 is custom-made and tailored to fit the gamepad controls. The gamepad gives it the freedom (or rather the variety of moves) it needs to deliver such enticing action, and that is exactly what bona fide console titles are all about. DoA3 is also the only game in the current line-up of X-box titles that supports the HDTV resolutions, and if you're even the least bit tech-savvy then you'll know this spells out some truly outstanding graphics and image sharpness. Of course, you still need to own a HDTV, but hey, maybe your granddad won a lottery or something and he's too old to remember what to do with the money.

The concept of Dead or Alive 3 is pretty traditional and straightforward for a fighting game - not much there in the way of storyline or character depth. But talking about these things in a beat-em-up would be like talking about the inner drama of a porn movie protagonist. Dead or Alive 3 excels in three major areas of kick ass gaming: visuals, quality of gameplay, and the sheer addictiveness and hours of fun you get from playing the game. Team Ninja pretty much nailed all these essential game design elements. They have taken the successful elements of the previous titles and simply elevated them to another level. It's the perfect marriage of next-gen technology and beat-em-up know-how. The game features 16 characters altogether; some of them are returning favorites like Kasumi and Lei-Fang and some are brand new like Christie, Brad Wong and Hitomi. There are also several different modes of play, most notably the story mode, one-on-one, and tag team match-ups. I've already mentioned that DoA3 is not about telling a gripping story, rather it's about gripping your opponent, so don't expect much from the story mode. However, you might want to check out the intro movies for each of the characters, as they're rather entertaining and simply gorgeous to look at.

And speaking of gorgeous, I don't know what's more gorgeous - the environments or the babes? All right, I'd go for the babes. I swear each of these cute animated models could pass as our BOTD, easy. The models look superb, and there is little more that I can add to that. After you've played DoA3 for a while, you'll become a polycount-elitist and demand all of your game characters to 'swing their hips' and a few other nifty body parts like that... er, I'm talking about the females of course, which is not to say that the reverse logic doesn't imply for all you ladies out there. Anyway, not only are the models brimming with polygons, they're also fantastically animated, together with their clothes and strands of hair. And I mean who wouldn't notice the cute thongs on Leifang when she does one of her T'ai Chi Quan high kicks.

The environments are equally as beautiful I'd say... Here we can definitely witness the full power of the Xbox console with all of the nifty reflections and awesome particle effects bringing to life each of the in-game locations. Add to that the possibility to play this puppy on a HDTV, and you'll easily guess why I think this is the most beautiful Xbox title yet. The complimentary sound effects go well with the stunning visuals, and even the Japanese voiceovers and the simple English (text) dialogue help get you into that whole 'I'll Bruce Lee your ass, bitch' gaming groove.

Of course, what DoA3 truly excels in is the variety of fighting styles and different moves. Each of the sixteen characters uses unique fighting style, and that is the main reason why DoA3 is so addictive and fun to play. Each technique has its own strengths and weaknesses, and in order to overcome your opponents you'll have to modify your playing style accordingly. You'll simply have a great time mastering ninjutsu, wrestling and T'ai Chi Quan, as well as learning how to draw on the differences of each of the styles to your advantage. The process involves skill and practice, and it can separate a DoA3 master from a puny weekend gamer, which is exactly the right amount of skill-based gameplay you need to get hooked on a fighting game. Once you start whacking your friends around, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about...

My favorite fighter is Leifang; her T'ai Chi Quan moves represent the perfect synthesis of speed, grace and power, plus she looks awesome. And what more can a hard-core gamer ask for really? DoA3 features catfights between gorgeous looking women - HELLO!

Playing in single-player mode, one can get rather bored after a while, despite the beautiful graphics and many different techniques. Naturally, that would be the right time to switch to some multiplayer action and show some of your friends how to do that 5-hit combo move. After all, it's playing against human opponents where DoA3 truly shines.


9.4   Excellent

Any self-respecting beat-em-up fan should own this game;

Single-player can get boring after a while, as your skills grow ...which would be the right time to bring some friends over.



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