While on the surface, it seems like an incredibly odd concept to put characters from a fighting game into a volleyball DOA:XBV isn't your typical sports game. In fact, DOA:XCV is more of a simulation of a vacation, or as the box puts it, a 'fantasy sports simulation.' That's probably the best description of what transpires in the game. The plot is fairly threadbare, but interesting nonetheless. Zack, the winner of the last DOA tournament has purchased a beach island, named it after himself, and converted it to a resort. Zack has invited all the female contestants from the tournament to his island to enjoy a relaxing vacation on his private island, but the males are conspicuously absent. The game allows you to play as any of the DOA girls, who cavort in the sand in seemingly racy cinemas beforehand. Even though the goal of the game is apparently just to relax, there are many different aspects to the gameplay. The structure of the game is divided into days, with morning, afternoon and evening activities. In the mornings and afternoons, you can play volleyball or simply lounge around at the pool. The poolside sequences let you see your girl laying around and relaxing, but you can change the camera angles and view her up close if you want to gawk at her figure. If you get bored sitting around, you can always play the hopping mini-game where you have to jump across the pool on floating platforms. This is surprisingly challenging because you need time the jumps between the floats perfectly. Failing to do this means you fall into the water. You control your jumps by pressing down the button for a length of time. These controls are a bit touchy and its easy to jump over the platforms. However, successfully jumping across these levels earns you extra money that you can spend.
However, sitting around the pool gets dull after awhile and seeing girls on the beach is the main point here. There are several beach environments mixed with a few jungle areas on the inside of the island. Different areas may be open or closed on different days. Surprisingly, the volleyball sequences aren't as complicated as they could be, and much less than Sega's Beach Spikers, but this isn't supposed to be a true simulation. As the day begins, you select which beach you want to play on. Each beach has a small icon that shows you if there's anyone else there. If somebody else is there, you can either team up with them or challenge the other girls to a match. Sometimes, a girl may not want to team up with you, but you persuaded her by giving her gifts. If there's nobody at that particular location, you are instead treated to a short cinema of your girl lounging alone, which is oddly appealing.
The volleyball game controls are extremely simple only requiring two buttons, one to hit the ball to the opponents' side while the other passes the ball to your partner. This is simple enough and much of the game seems automated. You use the directional pad to position the players on your side to anticipate the next shot, and can even block and spike an opponents shot if you're close to the net. While the game rewards victory, performing a devastating shot will earn you money that you can use in DOA:XBV's shops If you want to, you can use more advanced moves such as spiking, tossing and can perform different types of serves if you want to. These methods are easy to learn how to do, yet require some skill to perform effectively. The scoring uses a traditional rally system, where the last team that scored serves in the next round. The games go to the first team to score 7 points. However, tight matches can result in Deuces when the scores are tied, where the winner has to win two consecutive points. It's simple to understand the rules and how to play. Since there are no in or out areas, it makes the gameplay all the more intuitive. While some teams are definitely tougher opponents than others, the overall difficulty of DOA:XBV is relatively low. While this is the heart of the game, it's actually quite relaxing and isn't intense or difficult at all. The volleyball portion of DOA:XBV isn't the deepest simulation ever, and there are no hard and fast tournaments or rounds.
Winning these matches earns you money that can be used to buy items from the stores located throughout Zack Island. In the Sports store, you can buy swimsuits and outfits for your girls. Once you have purchased these, they're added to your inventory and you can change into and out of them at will. You can also go to the Accessories Store, where you can purchase other items including sunglasses, hats, shoes, and other items. Additionally, there's a Zack of All Trades store where you can purchase food, books and other items that can actually help you in the volleyball sequences. It seems strange to say, but collecting the various costumes and items in the game can become strangely addictive and is almost as much fun as playing volleyball. While you'll find acquiring items is easy at first, the more expensive items, including the most revealing swimsuits are the most difficult to attain.
After a hard day pounding balls in the sand, the player can relax at the Zack Island Casino. Here., they can gamble their money away in several games including Blackjack, Poker, Slot Machines or take a spin on the Roulette wheel. These are full casino games and have most of the rules of their real-life counterparts, and can be just as addictive. For example, you can double down or split your cards in the Blackjack game, and can place crazy amounts of bets on the roulette wheel. If you want to go big, DOA:XBV you can to set the value for each chip to obscene levels and go nuts. While the gambling isn't the main thrust of the game, success in this can further help you unlock additional items. After a long day of spiking and gambling, you can then return to your hotel room and take a nap. However, there's a knock on the door and you are presented with a gift from Zack himself, which could be anything from a new bathing suit to classic DOA promotional videos that you can watch. These extras go a long way in keeping your interest levels high, adding some impetus to keep playing.
Team Ninja has built a reputation for making some of the most visually sumptuous titles on the market and as you've probably figured out by now, DOA:XBV carries on the tradition. Like DOA3, it looks amazing with incredibly detailed levels, brilliant light-sourcing, realistic environments, and lush character animation. It shares the same engine as the DOA3, so it's no surprise that this title also ranks one of the best-looking Xbox titles to date. The attention to detail is evident and extends to even the smallest elements of the game, and the game has all visual elements that have become the DOA series trademarks. The beaches look almost as luscious as the girls and with amazing detail with realistic water and sand effects. The sunlight glows perfectly and the flying birds are nice touches that make you feel like you're on an isolated tropical island. The girls themselves look amazing and these character models are incredibly detailed down to the smallest elements. You can see them breathe and move around, and their bodies are properly proportioned. DOA:XBV's powerful graphics engine is amazing and this is further evidenced when you can zoom in and see the characters up close, showcasing their assets. DOA:XBV's soundtrack fits the action well and the included tracks set a nice light atmosphere to the proceedings. The voice over acting is good as well, with Dennis Rodman providing the voice acting for Zack. Unfortunately, most of the girls only speak Japanese and reading subtitles is a bit annoying. However, this doesn't change the fact that the production values in the game are some of the best seen to date in any title.
Obviously, this type of game won't appeal to
all players, and many will probably find it sexist and insulting. The game's
lascivious content means DOA:XBV is definitely not for kids. Though its
comparatively tame because it doesn't have full nudity, the game has been given
an M rating. However, it really wouldn't be fair to compare DOA:XBV to a serious
game. It doesn't pretend to be anything more than it is and this lack of
pretension actually works to its advantage. Since you can choose what activities
to participate in, you aren't hemmed in and this gives the game a leisurely
pace. This non-linear structure makes for a pleasant diversion that isn't overly
taxing. DOA: XBV isn't the deepest game ever made, but it's a pleasant change of
pace for players looking for something quirky and different. With amazing
graphics, simple control and the fun task of collecting items, this is actually
quite addictive and enjoyable. While it's not a true fighting game, fans of the
series should probably find something to enjoy in the oddly appealing Dead or
Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball.