[ Writer ] = BAD
[ 09/07/02 ] = Dead Or Alive 3

Tecmo was one of the first to sign on to make games for Microsoft's new hardware (Chihiro), promising a sequel to the hit Dead Or Alive 2 Hardcore. Fast forward to the game's development, that looked splendid, and none of that changed when the game was finished. DOA3 definitely delivers just what Tecmo had us hyped for. I had positive things to say about DOA2 and DOA2H upon their releases, and although I am a bit late, now I have a few things to say about DOA3.

To start, those who were expecting the same shock from the graphical goodness in DOA2 need not worry; DOA3 looks nice. Of course, DOA3 looks better than DOA2 and DOA2H, and the game's visuals rival any 3-D fighter out there. There were some who were speculating on if Tecmo could really utilize the power of such hardware to improve upon what they had did with DOA2H, and the good thing about DOA3 is that it may not utilize the hardware to its fullest extent, but the game looks very nice. The fighters look very, very nice, with great character models that have lots of clothing ripples, facial expressions, smooth textures, and freely-moving hair. Freely-moving hair? Yes. The character's hair reacts to the weather in the arenas they fight in. For example, when they are standing over a vent that is releasing air, the hair actually stands up just as it would on a real person's head. A nice touch, indeed. Clothes also react in a similar manner - Hayabusa's ninja gear flaps in the wind, as well as Kasumi's. Plainly put, the graphical flair put into the characters earns Tecmo a lot of respect. The character's many costumes also make a return in DOA3; there are a lot more than there were in DOA2H (but not as many as in DOA++ I think), and they are also very detailed. Hayabusa (again) defeats the competition with the absolutely killer costumes they gave him, Kasumi looks as good as she always did, and Ayane also looks cool with some fresh new gear. However, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed by Tecmo's lack of care for some of the other characters' costumes (like Helena). Team Ninja put a lot of work into DOA3, and it shows just where all that work went when you see not only the nice character models, but also how they interact with their environments. As far as the character roster goes, the new chick with the white hair (can't remember her name) kicks ass. She has some cool moves, cool costumes, and she's pretty rotten when it comes to counter moves. When I played the game, a friend had told me there were 2 hidden characters he had not yet unlocked, so I have yet to form a definite thought about the fighter roster of DOA3.

DOA3's gameplay consists of more of the same (I hope I don't sound like a GamePro editor here). More of the same great gameplay that made DOA2 the sleeper it that still somehow ends up on the used shelf. Punch, Kick, Guard, Reversals, and Tags are how the battles in DOA3 are fought. I know it doesn't have as many buttons as Tekken, or the reputation of the depth of Virtua Fighter, but stay with me here. DOA's developers are the kind of guys who wanted depth without the many buttons that many are used to, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. It would be a bad thing if they made shit of the gameplay, but they didn't. The game can be easily picked up by novices and experts alike, while it also packs a punch in the strategy department. The counters are one aspect of the DOA series that make it similar to VF, but ultimately still keep it separated from the other 3-D fighters. The counters are the same in DOA3 (low, mid, and high), but Tecmo sold out and dumbed down the motion for the counters (I guess to get more players?). Oh well, it had to happen sometime, right? The other aspect of the game is the tag-team feature that many, many people like (including me).

The tag-team side of DOA3's gameplay is great, with fast fighting and some added team special moves, but the biggest problem lies in the Tag button itself. To be as honest as possible, I'll just say it doesn't work worth a shit. Not only me, but my other 2 friends as well, were having a hell of a time even getting the damn thing to work. By far, the worst part of DOA3 is the lack of good control with the Tag button, and believe me, it has to be bad if someone as forgiving on control as me says it's bad. You can hit the button 2 or 3 times, and you still won't tag; we tried it standing still, moving, and during heated situations. Most of the time, your character has to be in absolute idleness, not moving, not even breathing, barely tag in successfully. Terrible. I lost matches because of this shit. Normally, I wouldn't tear anything from Team Ninja apart, but fuck, you have to see how bad the timing on the Tag button really is.

Other than the Tag button though, everything seems just as it was in DOA2H; looser gameplay than VF but not as pathetically loose as Tekken, with tight controls and loads of new moves. The laundry list of new moves in DOA3 will have DOA2H fans having to do a little relearning for some of the characters because some of the new stuff actually profoundly changes how the character is used. Not to say there aren't any techniques from the previous two games, though; some characters like Hayabusa and Kasumi can be used similarly as in DOA2H, but others have new combo or throw buffers (Tina) or other techniques. As far as balance in DOA3 goes, the game plays fairly well, but again, just as in DOA2, Tina's throws do way too much damage, and are often too easy to land and too hard to reverse. Tina's throws, just as in DOA2, make the gameplay of DOA3 sometimes more of a chore than a fun experience. Reversing her throws seems to fall somewhere between luck and no luck, leaving you disgruntled for weeks on end. Not fun.

Now on to one of the most polished parts of DOA3: the stages. The stages in DOA3 will impress you just as those in the previous entries did. They look nice. By far though, the best stage is the aquarium; fish swim around and the water glimmers onto the floors with beautifully crafted lighting effects as you battle it out. I have to say though, the stages are very odd, and in a refreshing sort of way. They really reflect the level of creativity that Tecmo's designers put into the game's overall presentation; they wanted a certain mood, and it was executed (I think) as they had hoped. Everything in the stage is modeled in real-time, beautifully textured goodness, and it's really easy to get lost in looking at the stages (therefore losing fights).

DOA3's presentation is executed just as well as that of DOA2 and DOA2H, with nice menus, lifebars, and a good-looking fighter select screen. The game's demo cinema is really, really long; so long, in fact, that I have forgotten nearly the whole thing. Just watch it yourself, and you'll know what I mean. DOA3's overall appearance is nice, and it shows that while Team Ninja's design is ultimately simple, it still looks nice.

Those who loved DOA2H will definitely like DOA3, even if the Tag button does suck. There's so much to like in DOA3, that it would be hard for even the most picky, fuckface editors at magazines that suck (GamePro, EGM) to find fault. There are tons of new costumes, new moves, new characters, loads and loads of new stages, beautifully crafted models, and fun gameplay options. With all of this, and the upgrade disc that allows you to add more (costumes, stages, etc.) to the game, DOA3 can keep gamers busy for a long, long time (as long as they keep their nose out of the filthy pages of EGM). A magazine's take on "replay value" means nothing; it's all about giving it all you got, and learning the game for all it is, and there's a lot to learn in DOA3.