Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2 Reader Review
DOA Xtreme 2 is the follow-up effort from Tecmo to one of the more debated games of the last few years, DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball. The plot premise for the series is largely irrelevant, however the scant introductory cutscene involves fellow DOA combatant Zack magically excavating the sunken island from the first game and thus attracting all of the DOA ladies back for one more island vacation. Wrapped around this premise is the ability to obtain items and swimwear for your chosen participant, and create friendship with the other inhabitants of the lusciously rendered Team Ninja island paradise whilst playing volleyball and a variety of minigame activities.
First things first, fans of the volleyball component of the first title will be pleased to hear that this mode is largely unchanged, with the same simple play mechanic and only a slightly tweaked level of control over your playing partner. Whilst it is still a lightweight simulation of the sport, it can be a lot of fun in multiplayer and maintains the same relaxed pacing from the original. The 'friendship' level of your partner still comes into play later into the vacation time, and keeping your playing pal happy with gifts is always a good way of speeding success on the beach.
The main addition to the formula this year is a new jetski mode, which is at the least fairly playable and comes complete with some impressive water effects, although Wave Race this definately isnt. Whilst the races are fun, and there is a little bit of depth on offer with new crafts to purchase and a few different trick techniques to learn, you'll probably tire of the races after a few hours of play.
Evolution over the first game also comes in the form of several new lightweight minigame modes such as 'waterslide' and 'butt battle', which are largely self-explanatory titles. Unfortunately almost all of the new additions are largely unplayable, with extremely simple mechanics and generally broken gameplay elements. They leave you with the sense that Team Ninja were really stretching to come up with any genuine gameplay additions, and judging from these maybe they shouldnt have tried.
The casino mode is pretty much a carbon-copy of the original, with the same activities and even the same camera angles. As it stands, this will likely be where you will spend the most amount of actual gameplay time, as its easily the most fun of all the environments the island has to offer. The fact this is the main redeeming feature of a full-price game however leaves a lot to be desired.
Of course, most of the activities on offer are a simple backdrop for the usual Team Ninja focus on upgraded breast physics and ever more revealing 'swimwear' for you to dress up the animated dolls in front of you. The Xbox 360 does a fine job of rendering the island paradise and playful inhabitants, with a fine-tuned version of the DOA4 engine providing enough visual quality to keep it up there with the best that the platform has to offer.
As you may have notice from any of the pre-release coverage or the Xbox live trailers, Xtreme 2 ratchets the level of voyeurism up several notches, this time including a fully fledged camera system to record your 'intimate' moments with your character, and an expanded set of pre-canned animations that even now involve your partner in some cases. If your buying the game purely to view the 'artisitic' talents on show, you certainly wont be disappointed.
The problem with all this is that Xtreme 2 seemingly takes things a step to far, certainly by most western tastes anyway. The first game was relaxing and light-hearted fun, with titillating aspects that were a part of the game but not driven by it. Xtreme 2 however takes far too much joy in presenting the player with every opportunity to view its participants as objects, devoid of personality and existing solely to fulfill the fantasy of the lonely male gamer without any real female contact. As such some of the content and activities come across as borderline creepy at times, and certainly made me feel uncomfortable to be playing at various points. Obviously your mileage will vary depending on how you live your life and how you view women.
Without the consistently relaxing atmosphere of the first game then, Xtreme 2 really shows its flaws. The volleyball and Casino aspects are fun but not worthy of a full-price game, and the additional content actually considerably lowers the tone for game that was already borderline unnaceptable for a lot of people. Not really recommended on any level then.
4 / 10