In these days where many developers are resorting to extreme violence or overly cute mascots to sell games, it's nice to see that Team Ninja continue to go with the sex sells approach in their less-than-brilliant Dead or Alive Xtreme series.
Fans of the original Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball will remember the volcano erupting, causing the island to sink, and leaving Zack to meet the wrong end of a giant fish - or so it seemed at the time. However, after the success of the original it was clear that Team Ninja wouldn’t let that be the end of Zack Island, and indeed through the magic of a wacky sci-fi scene with Zack and his girlfriend, Zack Island is resurrected.
After recovering and renaming it New Zack Island, he brings the girls back for another play in the sand. Almost all of the playable girls from Dead or Alive 4 are present - with the exception being Nicole Spartan-458. A shame really, as seeing a Spartan soldier in a bikini would have added some good comic relief - and at times, this game needs it.
As in DOAXBV, when you arrive at the island you are greeted by one of the other girls, who guides you around the island and plays through a volleyball game. This time around, you have more choice of opponents to play for your first game.
If you aren’t happy with the first girl’s performance or she leaves you for someone else, you can choose a new partner by purchasing a gift and bribing them. Unfortunately, you can’t tell how much the girl likes the present you have given her because there is still no clear indicator. Another problem arises when shopping, as the girls won’t say if you’ve bought an item before, so double ups will be a problem.
On the first night, you select a hotel where you will go each night to collect a present from Zack and anything you may get from the other girls. There are three different hotels to choose from, each appealing to different girls. Each night you head back to the hotel, and they have expanded on this too. Not only can you check out the casino, but you can access a new Crystal Boutique Xbox Live store which trades in Swimsuit packs and the ability to sleep in, which is a one off option to skip morning activities.
Just like in DOA: XBV you stay at New Zack Island for 14 days, playing volleyball or the other fun activities, or just relaxing and taking pictures of your girl with a camera Zack gave you. There are numerous perverse activities to watch and take pictures of, such as pole-dancing and relaxing by the pool. The only thing letting this down is the lack of control over when the activity ends, so you may have just found the right angle and focused only to have it cut short by the game ending. On top of that, the camera can be tricky to maneuver into place.
When it comes to playing volleyball, the basic controls remain the same - you pass with one button and spike with the other. The system will be easy to pick up for fans of the original. Also brought back is the hopping game, only this time it’s made competitive; instead of jumping as fast as you can across the platforms you have to race another girl across.
This would have been a great improvement had Team Ninja not changed the controls so you have hold down the A button for a longer jump and lightly press it for a short hop. In DOA: XBV you could assign A and B to long or short jump and it worked well, but with the new system you can fall short or overshoot a platform and lose the race.
The best of the new games is by far the personal watercraft races; in this game you race against whoever is in the Niki Marina along with your current partner; ideally, you will race while you don’t have a partner as they increase your competition.
You can unlock more games such as the Butt Battle and Water Slide in the sports shop; they are fun for a while – especially the butt battle – but the novelty quickly wears off and it’s back to the volleyball.
The only word to describe the visuals in DOAX2 is “sexy” – you’ll know what I mean when you unlock the pole dancing or butt battle. However, there are some quirks, such as hair that looks like pasta noodles - and when you notice something like that with the individual breast physics being shown off below, you know it’s bad.
As with the previous game, Zack Island falls to another natural disaster. This time a meteor shower hits the island causing the volcano to erupt. Zack must have the best luck in the world.
Aside from the pasta-looking hair and fill-in games, there is a lot of fun to be had playing volleyball and ogling the individual breast physics. Of course, in the end it’s just an excuse for some shameless fan service that most people would call shallow and would probably enrage feminists.