Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune (PlayStation 4) Review

By Az Elias 12.04.2016 2

Review for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune on PlayStation 4

The announcement of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 not getting a Western release, as well as possible reasons for it that never officially came directly from the developer's mouth, kicked up a storm in the gaming community. Whether planned or not, the surrounding furore seemed to work out well for Koei Tecmo, with importers galore laying down the cash for the Asian version that contains full English text (available at Play-Asia.com). As the third entry in an established spin-off of the Dead or Alive fighting series, the question is whether all this support for a game that is, after all, just a bit of harmless fun in the sun is going to leave buyers disappointed or see their expectations surpassed. Now available to purchase in two versions, as Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune on PlayStation 4 and Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Venus on PS Vita, it's time to pick a girl and go hands-on (!) with the PS4 release.

No doubt there will be a large portion of people out there contemplating the decision to import this title that are unfamiliar with the Xtreme series, and, indeed, the Dead or Alive franchise in general, so let's give a basic overview of the proceedings. Normally combatants in the DOA fighting tournaments in the core series (which is on its fifth main entry), the girls of Dead or Alive are invited by Zack, one of the male fighters and host of the previous two Xtreme games, to his private island paradise for summer-based activities and a spot of relaxation. Most of the girls are back again, but with Zack not on hand in person this time around, it's your job, as the stand-in manager of the island, to ensure the ladies have the best time they can possibly have during their two-week holiday.

After choosing a girl, the vacation should be played through to the end with that character, and it is within this 14-day period that the job to make her happy is underway. This is achieved by performing well in the games on offer, and by buying and sending her gifts from the island stores, which include swimsuits, food and drinks, and general random items. Every girl has their favourites, so it's simply a case of checking the shops until products come in that they like, packing them up in their favourite coloured wrapping paper and handing them over when time permits, be it during the day or in the hotel at night. Simple missions will pop up throughout the day, and these act as another incentive and means to satisfy the current holidaymaker, ranging from such simple tasks as buying a certain drink from the store to winning a beach volleyball match two times over.

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With each day being split up into three time slots - morning, daytime and evening - the clock progresses with each activity played, allowing for up to three to be participated in daily, whereas shopping won't advance time at all, allowing the current owner of the island to stop in and buy gifts whenever they like. Since the stock is updated with each passage of time, it's always worth checking in on the new swimsuits and gifts available. Following the last activity of the day, it's off to the hotel to lounge on the bed for a bit, but before hitting the hay, the casino calls for the cash earned from playing in those beach activities earlier on to be blown on blackjack, roulette or poker. After racking up some winnings (or ashamedly walking out with losses), handing over any final gifts and ogling the girl on her bed for a while longer, there is little more to do than sleep and get ready for another day in the sun.

That's generally all there is to it. The process repeats for 14 in-game days, with the main goal trying to hit that S+ satisfaction rating come the end of the vacation. Provided mini-games are won, favourite gifts are handed over and all personal character missions are completed, it can usually be achieved on one holiday playthrough. If the grade isn't quite met, however, the girls' satisfaction levels are carried into the next new vacation, ensuring it will be easier to gain a better rank next time round. Do this with all nine girls and that's the main meat of the game completed…until moving onto the grind to fill up those closets and unlocking every single swimsuit and item for all women.

Screenshot for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune on PlayStation 4

New to DOAX3 is Owner Mode, which is freely switchable between the standard Girl Mode at the press of a button in between activities. With Girl Mode essentially being the standard experience of actually controlling the chosen girl in each mini-game, Owner Mode is played from the eyes of the player, acting as the current manager, able to watch and take pictures of the girls during their playtimes. Aside from maybe a handful of missions that crop up here and there, asking the owner to view a specific activity, the main use for it is handing over gifts to keep the girls on a high. With separate cash levels between Girl and Owner Modes, it's often much more difficult to raise funds when playing as the owner, making the swimsuits exclusive to that side harder to obtain.

In the end, the ultimate objective is raising the Owner Level to the maximum and winning enough money at the casino to unlock special items that allow for a bit of fun when viewing the girls, and private pole dancing shows for an up-close-and-personal viewing of your favourite girl in her finest outfit. Such is the intense grind, though, that it is way too much effort to get to these stages. There doesn't seem to be a sensible reason why it has been made so hard to reach these points. Few will want to put the time in for the small reward.

The highlight and central feature has always been beach volleyball, but that has generally become less of a focus over time, as evidenced by the dropping of the sport's name when the sequel rolled around. Still the main advertised feature, volleyball is the most engaging mini-game in the entire package, being the only time full control is granted over the selected girl; all other activities limit how they can be moved. It is easily the most fun aspect, and it is always played in a two-versus-two first-to-seven-points matchup.


 
At the start of every vacation, one of the other girls will ask to be your partner, to which you can accept, or decline and try to get one of the others on board for a more preferred team of two. Initially, the AI-controlled partner will seem uninterested, and won't really play to the best of her ability, even though she can be moved into position manually with the right analogue stick. By improving the closeness rating between the two girls (playing certain mini-games together, sending her gifts she likes, etc.), the partner will improve her game; she'll start setting up spike opportunities (instead of knocking it back over the net), dive more for balls going past her, and block opponent spikes at the net.

There is certainly some degree of skill involved in volleyball, with one of three difficulty levels of opponents to overcome whenever it is played, and it often can produce tense and amusing plays and situations, but it is still far off being a high quality volleyball experience. That may not have ever been the intention, but with the potential and solid foundation already there for the best part of three games now, and the fact there is a distinct lack of any volleyball video games on the market, there is the feeling that there is room for more depth in both the gameplay and possible competitions related to it to elevate it above just being more or less the same game as the ones in the previous instalments. Things are only made worse when taking into account multiplayer is non-existent now - a step back from DOAX2, which allowed players to compete against others in either online or offline modes.

Screenshot for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune on PlayStation 4

Most other mini-games return from the last game, which are all about as simplistic as they can get. Beach Flags sees the X button being mashed repeatedly to run along the beach and grab the flag at the end before an opponent; Tug-of-War pits two girls against each other on floating pads, pulling or feinting with the rope to make the other fall into the pool; Butt Battle is mainly the same as Tug-of-War, except the girls use their jiggly posteriors to bash each other off, dodging and side-stepping in the process; and Pool Hopping is a case of tapping or holding face buttons to jump to the next floating pad and make it to the other side of the pool without falling in, whilst scoring extra cash for matching the pad colours with the controller buttons. Tug-of-War and Butt Battle are a bit more on the luck-based side of the coin, but all of these mini-games are generally basic affairs in terms of how to play them, and last a minute at best.

Rock Climbing is the new addition to DOAX3, but it's probably the worst activity of the bunch. The girl will scale a cliff face, and it's the job of the player to QTE-climb to the top by pressing the correct buttons as they appear. The purpose of this is more about showing off the ladies in another tantalising perspective, with major focus on the newly-programmed booties. It's a disappointing one, but does deliver some pretty interesting shots of the girls when in photo mode, to say the least.

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Wait, though. What about the Jet Ski and Water Slide games from DOAX2 - two of the most fun modes outside of volleyball? They're gone. That's right, the Jet Ski mode - previously also playable online and actually wasn't a bad Wave Race clone, featuring ramps and tricks to earn money - and the Water Slide - where girls slid down twisting and looping shoots, trying to keep inside the confines and achieve the fastest times - are absent in DOAX3. It's a huge blight because so many of the more involving activities are done away with or not fleshed out more, and the single newly-added one is a lame QTE climbing simulator. Staying with the theme of cut content, the slot machines in the casino are also withdrawn, meaning, including no multiplayer of any kind, a total of four main features have not made the transition from the last game to the next. In addition, accessories are gone, so shoes, hair accessories and headgear to add a little customisation to the girls is unavailable.

What's equally infuriating is that it is only a selection of nine girls from the Dead or Alive roster that has made the cut. Koei Tecmo ran a vote of sorts in Japan, whereby the most sold individual character menu themes for the PS4 and PS Vita determined which nine women would appear in the final game. Sadly, this has meant staple faces like Lei Fang, Tina, Christie and Lisa being made to stay at home, whilst DOA newcomers Mila and Rachel also missed the plane.

For a game whose predecessor came out a decade ago, this is severely upsetting. Different people will have enjoyed the series for different reasons, and many will point out that certain aspects aren't as important or necessary as other areas, such as multiplayer, but from a personal standpoint, it is really disappointing that all of these modes and characters have disappeared. Ten years on, it isn't expected for this entry to be so lacking in content than the title before it. There was clearly a tight budget to work with for this niche game, and that's understandable, but what was on offer in the previous release cannot be ignored. DOAX3 has been stripped down (there's a pun in there somewhere), reducing replay value massively. For a game that becomes such a grind later on in order to achieve 100%, it's damaging.

Screenshot for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune on PlayStation 4

The hope now is that, since the developers have gone back on their word and said they are open to download content if the demand is there, the missing modes and characters can be added in the future. Although unlikely, it would be wonderful if any extra game modes came as free updates, particularly because a free-to-play version has been confirmed, letting F2P users pay for the additions, whilst those that bought the full retail version would get them for free; it seems to make sense. Indeed, a F2P edition is a logical call from Koei Tecmo, given how well the excellent free model for DOA5 has performed, and how paid DLC in the form of mostly swimsuits will bring in a lot of cash to make up for the limited budget to create DOAX3. With fingers crossed, DLC earnings could hopefully go towards adding those jet skis so sorely missed…

Despite being starved of content, there can be few complaints when it comes to the visuals. The key word is "few," though, because it looks like there are a lot of reused assets from DOAX2, murky textures, and far too many horrible cases of graphical clipping. The girls' hair is the main culprit, often clipping right through their bodies, beds and other objects. It's unmissable and hurts scenes when it happens, highlighting a common complaint from not just DOA5, but plenty of other games featuring wavy hair and cloth. It's obviously tough to get just right, and whilst hair and clothing physics are a vast step up from what has come before, there is still work to do to get them acting in a more believable manner. With what Team Ninja has managed to do using the new Soft Engine 2.0, though, if any developers can get hair physics right in the future, it's them.


 
It's the updated Soft Engine that is a core focus here in DOAX3. Previously used in DOA5 Last Round to deliver more realistic breast physics, the 2.0 version has been taken a step further - butt physics! Yep, now the girls' rounded behinds wibble and wobble with extra fidelity, and are shown off to great effect when serving in volleyball, rock climbing, and, of course, during Butt Battle. It's a commendable and respectable effort, in all fairness. The breast physics in DOAX2, in particular, were pretty absurd, jiggling around in opposite directions, even if the girl was standing still, but here, we have assets that - although not perfect - actually function in a believable manner. Expect many a developer knocking on Team Ninja's door for a slice of this engine in the near future…

The tanning system is also very clever. Further encapsulating the realism of the girls, there is some advanced stuff going on here, with their normally pale complexions gradually tanning to a golden brown with each progressive day. If a different swimsuit is used for a period of time, tan lines are revealed and entire sections of bodies that the last outfit covered show up with their lighter shades. By applying suntan lotion or sunscreen, the colour can be altered throughout the vacation to match personal preference. Although some girls may look a bit unnatural with a full tan, it's all pretty reasonable and believable. There is no question that these ladies have received huge attention to detail, and look rather beautiful as a result, and there are plenty of opportunities to admire them in all their glowing glory through relaxation scenes, unlockable pictorial videos, and the famed pole dancing events.

Screenshot for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

What Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 boils down to is a mixed set of feelings, but one of mostly dissatisfaction. It is undeniably sexy eye candy, with a decent volleyball game thrown in, but it is essentially a collection of basic mini-games, of which many modes and characters have been removed or replaced, and quickly becomes a grind-heavy chore of replaying vacations and poker in order to unlock absolutely everything… at which point it seems mostly pointless. This is the type of game that warrants being supported, but it is extremely difficult to do so when it is so sorely lacking in features and suffers from cut content. The potential is there to turn this into a far more engaging and all around better series, but, sadly, Team Ninja squandered this chance. There is brief fun to be had in paradise, but the holiday may end up being cut short. Consider it, but make sure you know exactly what to expect before splashing out.

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune on PlayStation 4 and Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Venus on PS Vita can be bought from Play-Asia.com in Asian region format, featuring full English text, and playable on any PS4 or PS Vita system. A Hong Kong PSN account is required to activate any DLC, and Hong Kong PlayStation Network cash vouchers can also be bought at Play-Asia.com, as well as other games in the Dead or Alive series.

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Developer

Team Ninja

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Sport

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

Comments

Too many words Az... you could just write "BOO-BEES!!!"

A lot of quotes in the Internet are attributed to the wrong person
                                -Georgios Karaiskakis

 

Ofisil said:
Too many words Az... you could just write "BOO-BEES!!!"

Then it would have been a straight 10/10! XD

I get carried away when it comes to DOA in general, but wanted to give this some depth, since it's garnered so much attention and many people not previously into the series would be looking at getting it.

I wanted to love it more, but just can't forgive how much content hasn't made the jump from DOAX2 to DOAX3. I stand by my stance that they could really make this series so much more, allowing us to play any mini-game whenever we want, adding knockout competitions in volleyball, online multiplayer, and better new activities. Before the info was coming out on this game, me and some others talked about how cool it would be to have beach soccer, and the option to actually walk around the island to each activity. There was so much content removed, whilst the only new activity was QTE rock climbing, so it's hard to fathom.

That said, I still can't seem to pry myself away from it. The grind is real, but it's such a feel-good and relaxing game to switch on for a while at night.
 

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