When I received Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Venus for review I was both excited and a bit worried as to what I was getting myself into. I’d never played a Dead or Alive game where there wasn’t any actual fighting before, but this seemed pretty competitive in its own way, and was obviously meant to be a little more sexy and intimate. Well, without giving too much away, I’d like to say that it can be quite entertaining – but also a little frustrating. Let’s delve into the meat of it all, and I’ll tell you what’s up with this much talked about title.
First, let’s get what this game is out of the way; Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Venus is a game where you pick one of nine girls and take them on a fourteen day vacation to a tropical island. On this island, you’ll have time to do three outdoor (pool/beach) activities a day, and unlimited inside (casino) activities at night. You’ll have to do this for fourteen in-game days to complete a vacation, and during that time you’ll be pitted with tasks that will earn you character satisfaction, money for the owner mode, and experience towards upping your owner level.
Character satisfaction determines your end score (at the end of the fourteen days) as well as other various reactions you’ll receive when doing things with the ladies (like giving them gifts, or partnering up with them). This works between girls, as well as between the owner and the girls.
The owner mode is a mode where you can buy items (including owner-exclusive costumes) for the girls, take pictures of them doing activities during the day, or go to the casino to try and make more money. It’s a mode that exists outside direct interaction with the ladies on the island, and is a little like being the manager of a hotel that caters to the rich. You want to please the girls, so that your tip is bigger – the only difference being that your tip goes back into swimsuits and other gifts for those girls, and you’re allowed to take pictures of them (haha).
As for the experience you gain through completing challenges; your owner level will determine certain unlocks, like Event Paradise mode at level 30 and Pictorial Paradise mode at level 50, so you’re working towards unlocking these bonus modes.
Moving on to the activities you’re able to engage in with the girls, they’re all very simple to play – but most are also hard to master, and there are varying levels of difficulty to come up against. Games like beach volleyball can either be a shut out or a shut down depending on the foe, and rock climbing goes from a four button affair to a six with combinations. This may be a vacation, but it’s not easy to say the least; except for when you get an easy opponent that is.
Looking to the activities themselves, they come in two main varieties; day, and night.
Day activities include balance games like Tug of War and Butt Battle – where you try and knock your opponent into the pool, Pool Hopping and Rock Climbing – where timely button presses are what it’s about, Beach Flags where button mashing is key, and Beach Volleyball – a game of predicting your opponent and keeping the ball in the air. There’s also relaxing, though I don’t consider that an activity as much as something nice to look at. 😉
Night activities come in the form of casino games, with Blackjack, Poker, and Roulette on the menu. All three of the casino games use traditional rules (with Poker being the straight variety), and give you different betting levels to play at.
Day games can be played as the girl (girl mode), or as an observer with a camera (owner mode) – while night games are played directly as either the owner or the chosen girl, using each mode’s own pot of money.
These games are all part of your journey, but they aren’t all there is. Aside from the daily activities available, you can also buy and give items from the Sports Store or Zack of All Trades, or even pick up exclusive items in owner mode from the owner store (available at night). Whether or not whoever you give the gifts to will accept them is another story though, as they aren’t always interested in what you have to offer.
With all these things to do and worry about, you’d almost think that it’s too much, or too spread out – but it’s not. The way that the game cycles through day (three activities) and night (unlimited casino use) gives you plenty of time and opportunity to do all the things you need to do, and as long as you’re not in a rush for any reason (as I sort of was) you can enjoy it just like the vacation it’s meant to include. Whether you want to play Beach Volleyball all day, and Blackjack all night – or diligently follow the challenges – is up to you. With that sort of freedom it’s easy to find yourself dug in; trying to find an awesome swimsuit, or fund a purchase from the owner store. It’s got something for everyone to aim for (ba-dum-ch)!
As for the way the game looks doing all this, it’s clear that there are graphical issues and downgrades that come with the PlayStation Vita version… but they’re not game-breaking or nagging for the most part. The collision detection between hair and skin is often off, meaning hair passes right through the girls’ bodies – and the edges are a little jagged here and there, but those things aren’t always apparent, and didn’t detract from the experience (aside from breaking focus for some laughs here and there).
I mean, who couldn’t find this a little funny?
The biggest annoyance however, is the way that water can look. Often it doesn’t look like there’s a surface, and the splashing can look really odd. It’s hard to show in screenshots, but it’s definitely the most distracting thing wrong with the game graphically. Thankfully, it only really looks bad when the characters are doing things that are cinematic (ie; you’re watching a character relax at the pool in owner mode), so it’s something you can avoid unless you’re taking pictures.
As for the audio, it’s the original Japanese voice-over and it’s done very well. Characters are well played and expressive, with lots of little quirks and cute inflections. The music used is very unobtrusive and even quite nice in a way, providing a real island sort of feel when it plays. The sound effects are equally well done, with nothing seeming off or unrealistic during play.
So what do I think about Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Venus after all that?
Well, it seems to me like a good idea and some great pieces – but the gameplay options are a bit lacking, and they haven’t made things as accessible as they should have. They lock you into vacations and schedules in order to participate, and don’t give you any sort of easy access to the fun bits! Sometimes a guy just wants to play beach volleyball, you know?
That said, when I did get to do what I pleased the game was quite fun. It offers some simple but challenging activities, and some lovely looking ladies to do them with. The controls and frame rate seem solid, and there’s plenty of new swimsuits to keep you coming back for more (skin that is). Titillating, time-consuming, and truly addictive to play, Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Venus is a title you’ll definitely want to at least consider for import.
Just don’t let your girlfriend get the mail. 😉
This review was sponsored by Play-Asia, who kindly provided the import copy for us to review. If you like the look of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Venus we suggest you give them a visit – both because they’re a quality import dealer, as well as because they’ve been kind enough to help us out!