The game that a lot of people have been waiting for is finally here. DOA: XVB, to me, is a disappointment, but I will get to that later. Before this game came out no one really knew what this game was going to contain other than volleyball, the pretty ladies of the Dead or Alive series with newcomer Lisa added and that Zack was somehow involved. Seeing and playing the final game has given me the idea that I am glad I rented this game because it does not contain enough of what I really wanted from this game: volleyball itself. Is DOA: XVB a good way for Tecmo (and Team Ninja) to fill its coffers? You bet, but hopefully the money will go toward the upcoming Ninja Gaiden game.
The story goes that Zack won the DOA3 tournament and that he now has lots of money to spend. He decides to buy an island and invite all the ladies of DOA to it with the idea that they are being invited to the DOA4 tournament. Sneaky Zack just wants all the women to himself (and who can blame him?). He gives them presents every night, but the lust is never reciprocated. Poor Zack…he is worth so much, yet no one wants anything to do with him. Even Lisa (the new girl on the scene) leaves him in the dust. Every girl seems to be unhappy that they are not on the island for the DOA4 tournament, but they enjoy the vacation nonetheless. This is the setup for the game.
You get 14 game days for your vacation. Once it is done you can restart with the same girl or choose a different girl. The days are split into 4 times: morning, day, evening and nighttime. During the first 3 you can do 1 major thing (poolside to take a rest or do the jumping mini-game, play a round of volleyball or try to woo a girl with presents or asking them to join you). You can also do any number of minor things you want (purchase things from the Accessory Shop, Sports Shop and Zack of All Trades shop). Your goal is to get lots of money. Winning a volleyball game will net you the most, but you have to have a partner…and many of the girls hate each other. You can also go to the casino at night, but the house seems to have the advantage in that situation. Doing the hopping game at poolside will also net you some money as well. With the money you can go and buy whatever the heck you want. There are different swimsuits, lotions, hair accessories, bracelets, etc. You name it and they probably have it in this game. Once you buy an item you can have it wrapped and then you can send it to someone at night or use it as a bargaining chip to get a girl onto your team. The important thing here is to know who you want as a partner and the things they enjoy doing. If you buy things that they like, you have a better chance of getting them on your team.
For beginners I would recommend doing exhibition mode first so you can get used to how volleyball is played in this game. There are no on-screen indicators and playing volleyball all about timing and the power with which you hit the button. You want the fastest spike around? Wait until the very last second and hit the attack button (you can change button controls…I used X as attack and A as regular). If you hit it anytime before then your spike will be less powerful. It takes a while to get the timing down, but once you do you will probably be an unstoppable force on the sand unless you cannot get a partner. Also for beginners I would recommend using Tina through your first go-around. She and Lisa make a great team and since they are both American they seem to like each other right off the bat. Since Lisa is with you at the beginning you have more of a chance of keeping her even if you lose a few volleyball games. At least try to keep it competitive and Lisa should stay with you. If you have lost a lot of games and she is still with you, be sure to give her a present at night in the hotel (only time you can give your partner a gift) that she will like.
Let me talk about what is good in this game. The graphics are easily the best part of this game. The girls look great and seeing them in different swimsuits can be very addictive. Eventually the coolness rubbed right off me though. About halfway through my second vacation I started saying to myself that it was no longer fun. The music is also pretty good for the most part. I turned off the Jamaican band…they were a bit annoying (you can turn the bands on and off through the Radio Station). Bonus with the music is that you can put the music from your X-Box into the game. Not a whole lot of games do this (more should), so this is a bonus right there. Another good thing is the controls. This game has simple controls, but it takes a while to master the volleyball part of it.
Now onto the bad parts of the game. There is not enough volleyball in the game for my tastes. I would have liked to see a tournament option or the scores increased to 15 to win instead of 7 (you can do this in exhibition though). This game could have been the next Super Spike V-Ball, but it just is not. Volleyball in this game is the means to an end. That end is being able to buy more accessories to make your character look different or to get a girl on your team. The biggest fault of this game is that after one vacation you may start feeling that this game is kind of like a Barbie dress-up game with a cross between a “buy friends” game. In some ways this game is a lot like The Sims except that the latter was addicting for far longer than DOA: XVB was to me. To me there is just not enough substance here to justify a purchase of this game.This game does not quite get a 100 because there are jagged lines present with everything outside of the characters themselves (who are rendered quite well). The volleyball area could have looked more beautiful, but that may be more a problem with the camera than anything else.
Some of the music I never wanted to hear (like the Jamaican band), but much of the music in the game fit the environment quite well. They are mostly pop songs like “Come on Over” by Christina Aguilera, but they fit the environment. A personal favorite was the Baha Men song that I cannot get out of my head. Never thought I would like a Baha Men song, but this one is pretty good. The added benefit here is that you can add your music to the game. So, whip out some 80s chick songs (like “Girls, Girls, Girls” by Motley Crue for example).The controls are simple, but difficult to master. You basically work with two buttons and your left analog stick when playing volleyball and doing the hopping game. The former is based around timing and how hard you hit your button. The latter is based around how hard or soft you hit the button. I think they could have created a more robust engine with the volleyball (such as adding a dig button all by itself or a jump button), but I have already talked about my dislike for this game’s namesake. As a collection game this game is great. As a volleyball game this game is poor. They should have honed in on one or the other and not both in my opinion. Had they put more time into the former I never would have picked this game up. More time in the latter probably would have gotten me to purchase this game. The merging of the two is exciting for a bit (maybe one vacation), but I eventually understood the failure of this game. It tries to do too much while sitting on the fence between the two instead of jumping into it on either side.
I give this a low score because after the first vacation I really did not want to play this game anymore. I had already gotten the top swimsuit (the Venus) and after that I felt that my time with this game was done unless I wanted to pick it up to play the volleyball again. This is a beautiful game and your results may vary. If you are into collecting stuff you may give this a far higher score than I have given it.