brackynews's Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 (Xbox 360) review

What more can you ask for from a gravure game? Auto-pilot.

In a word: ridiculous.

Review sites in general are usually hard on "gravure" games, those Japanese stalwarts that are meant for little more than titillation. It happened back in the day ('94) when Metal & Lace and Cobra Mission were offered to mainstream North American PC gamers, and the DOAX series is the latest generation, being famously described as "the best lesbian dating simulator" out there.

The first DOAXBV actually presented a very playable volleyball mechanic. I can still load it up and have a fun relaxing game, since I'm no longer trying to build the bank. (Only Super Spike V'Ball for the NES would captivate me otherwise.) For DOAX2, it has become a modern-day Wave Race 64. (And I would still play Wave Race, though the bikinis do have a slight edge.) I should note that I also played the fully unlocked version at TGS2006. I will not comment on the jiggle-physics, since the effect can be changed noticeably by adjusting the player "Age". I will say that they totally botched the VGA output, like so many 360 titles. Seriously, how hard is it to imagine someone using a 4:3 VGA monitor? Why is that not in the QA process?

Like Rumble Roses, the gameplay itself is enjoyable enough, but the "guilty pleasure" comes from the amount of time that must be, honestly, wasted. Itagaki-san stated in an interview, that the goal was to improve investment vs. reward. Every couple of games you play, the game responds with enough money to buy some new thing or fun to be had (get-get-get-lose). Sadly, this promise wasn't fulfilled overall. Yes there are more minigames and the bank fills faster, but the demands of time and luck to actually accomplish any kind of goal (times EIGHT) are absurd. The Achievements list is built with the otaku in mind, and I cannot imagine or appreciate the kind of person that would come out with a full 1000 points. Not only do you need to buy several billion dollars worth of swimwear, but you must coax the AI into accepting your gifts. Real life isn't this hard...

The casino card games are much more interesting this time, and take more thought than before. As a result they go slower. The slot machines are still insane, and still offer the most scandalous of rewards. The roulette "cheat" is one of those things that makes you wonder... "how could they not intend this on purpose?" The replayability of the Xbox version benefits greatly from cheats... not having to worry about money lets you experience the game's fun without being a time sink. I would be more amused if there was a pachinko game, at least that would have some Japanese appeal.

The photographic camera control, something everyone wanted in the original, is overwhelming and complicated. And the duration of the sequences is again, ridiculous. Using a video capture solution would be more "productive". As a trained and experienced photographer, I take it as an affront when games get it wrong. Pokemon Snap was better than this.

For a game so anticipated and with so much promise, DOAX2 falls flat in practicaly every way. If you're like me and treat it as a saccharine respite from other games, and buy it for an incredibly low price, it's almost possible to forget that the same team created Ninja Gaiden.. which you could be playing instead.

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