Tecmo has always been one of my favorite developers in the past. Recognized for a number of great titles including Ninja Gaiden, Monster Rancher, and Rygar -- one of my favorite NES games of all time. But lately it seems that Tecmo's really been taking a ton of abuse from the gaming community. First they got it from diehard Dreamcast owners when they announced that Dead or Alive 2 would be going over to the PlayStation 2, complete with a couple of new characters, new arenas and slightly better graphics, while the DC version was an almost direct port of the arcade version. Then Tecmo received some harsh criticism when they announced that Dead or Alive 3 would be available only on the Xbox during the Winter Tokyo Game Show. You could hear the cries of Sony fans around the world when they realized that this series wouldn't be available on the PS2 (heh). Despite all of this, Tecmo has still put together a game that delivers an experience that no other series in the industry can match in Dead or Alive 3, the latest addition to their flagship series.
By now, most gamers have been able to experience the game for themselves, and quite frankly, first impressions are absolutely stunning. I really don't want to touch on the graphics that much because in all seriousness, there's nothing much to comment that hasn't been said already. Everything from the never-ending horizons on all of the levels to the awesome reflections to the stunning lighting effects make this the best looking game that I have ever seen. The characters themselves are awesome as well, each moving with graceful, fluid motions that really catch your attention.
The same can be said regarding the game's sound effects and soundtrack. A lot of other titles come off with really tinny sound effects when contact is actually made; sometimes it sounds like you're just hitting a training dummy instead of an actual person, but that doesn't happen here. One of the best things I like about Dead or Alive 3 is that you can actually feel the contact being made when you clock someone with a canned string. But you won't find those little choppy sounds as in other games -- you get something to the effect that feels like a Mack truck just hit you upside the head. And it's one of the more significant highlights in Dead or Alive 3, which only serves to further immerse the player to a greater degree. The soundtrack itself is decent, although my personal tastes favours somethings that's a lot harder (read: Guilty Gear X) than what's offered here. That being said, the tracks in Dead or Alive 3 are more than tolerable, although the inclusion of the Aerosmith songs are somewhat puzzling (Editor's Note: I supposed it does seem somewhat out of place), as the original songs certainly can more than hold up on their own.
Which brings us to the actual gameplay of Dead or Alive 3, which is a tough aspect to tackle. Quite honestly, it's the type of game that you'll come to love or hate. Personally, Dead or Alive 3 has really been an enjoyable experience, but it's also been a total exercise in frustration -- and I'll attempt to explain why. As with the previous editions, DoA3 is fast. Extremely fast. The pace really sets it apart compared to other fighting games. Where Virtua Fighter would be chess, Dead or Alive can be likened to a hard rock concert; one is slow and methodical, the other is fast and chaotic, yet both are extremely satisfying. While it doesn't seem that much has changed from the previous edition, Dead or Alive 3 incorporates a series of engine tweaks which drastically affects the gameplay atmosphere. Many of the details which won't be highly evident to players during their first experience.