The founding principle here is a sound one. Get all the scantily clad, and really not unattractive, female cast of the Dead Or Alive fighting games and put them in the midst of a series of sports that, er, require not too many clothes.
It worked, sort of, in the original game that this is a sequel to; Dead Or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. That was on the first Xbox, so this 360 sequel – by broadening out the number of sports – should attain similar success.
Only it doesn’t. In fact, it’s a bit of a mess. The idea is decent (or at least conventionally indecent), and the story that glues it together isn’t too shabby. You’re introduced to a luxury holiday resort, and on your first day you head to the shop (naturally) and get a taster of some of the sports.
The shop is partly to help you get your aesthetics right, with many unlockables to play for, but also there’s useful bits and bobs for the mini-games themselves. Sure, all the conversation involved is a little cheesy, but get into the spirit of it and it’s not a problem.
The mini-games themselves are problematic, though, with one or two blatantly ported over from the previous release, while the supposedly core volleyball game has been pretty much crippled.
So let’s start with that. In selecting the skewed camera angle, the developers have chosen looks over perspective, and that means guesswork is your friend when attempting to work out where the ball lands. There’s little help from the game itself this time to compensate, and while theoretically the volleyball game should be lengthened by the challenge of befriending other women and getting them to play with you, the reality is that it’ll have annoyed you so much by then that you won’t really care.
Among the other games are several other disappointments. The water slide relies far too much on luck, and remembering the course from the last time you went wrong. The idea is that you hurtle to the bottom as quickly as possible, without sliding off. Should you fly off the sides, that’s it, game over. No time penalty, just a trip back whence you came.
The same sudden ‘game over’ for a single mistake applies to the otherwise fairly decent float stepping, where you step across individual floats that cover a swimming pool. You do this by hitting the coloured button on your controller that corresponds to the next float you need to step on, and it’s okay for a couple of games.
The butt battles and tug of war, meanwhile, are so stupidly simple that they’re borderline useless, and the beach flags race isn’t much better. In fact, the last mild saving grace is the moderately interesting jet-ski racing. But even that’s just OK, nothing special.
There’s a moral at the heart of Dead Or Alive: Xtreme 2, sadly, and it’s an obvious one. Pretty virtual ladies are no guarantee whatsoever of a good game, and while you may warm to the cast, you won’t appreciate the gameplay here. Easy avoidable.