Developer(s) – Team Ninja
Publisher(s) – Tecmo
Designer – Tomonobu Itagaki
Released as a launch title for the original Xbox, alongside the original Halo, Cel Damage and Oddworld: Munch’s Odyssey, Dead or Alive 3 made for a fairly strong launch period for the console at the time, garnishing mostly positive reviews from critics alongside Halo: Combat Evolved. Although I have gone on to play better fighting games, including it’s successor Dead or Alive 4, I did spend a lot of time playing this game, and although the series would never escape the accusation of using sex appeal to sell, It’s nevertheless a decent title for all the right reasons.
Graphics – 9/10
From a technological standpoint, these visuals were some of the best of the time, featuring textural detail unlike anything ever seen in video gaming before. The Xbox was a powerful system for it’s time, and this game did an excellent job at showcasing this in the game’s earliest years. From a conceptual standpoint, many of the different outfits of the characters remain largely the same as in the previous game, but there is also a plethora of new locations added to the game visually diverse.
Gameplay – 8/10
I’ve always liked the Dead or Alive games, since they differ from others in that the combat a lot more fast-paced and intense, and by proxy, combos are a lot easier to execute than in the likes of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. The third game was no different, with even faster combat than in the second game, making for a huge improvement, along with the feature of being able to knock characters around to different areas of any one stage, which never loses its charm.
Controls – 10/10
Given the fact that combos are easier to pull of than in most other fighting games, the Dead or Alive series has never presented any complications in terms of controls, and the third game only improved on everything the second game did flawlessly. The camera angle changes during the final battle at the end of the story campaign, but again, it doesn’t really cause any problem, so bringing up the issue would be like splitting hairs.
Lifespan – 7/10
Since it takes about 15 minutes to run through the story mode with each character, it makes for a fairly long game, and there is incentive for playing it multiple times, given that there is a total of four unlockable characters on top of the initial roster. Not only that, but there is also a plethora of alternative costumes to unlock in the process.
Storyline – 7/10
The game’s plot follows a group of fighter from around the globe competing in the World Combat Championship in a bid to stop the end result of a maniacal project called Omega; Genra, a hugely powerful warrior bent on destroying the world. Though the game’s main plot is pretty simplistic and unoriginal, the story is made to be interesting by the various sub-plots involving the different characters. For example, although either character doesn’t exactly fit into the ninja archetype, Hayate and Kasumi’s back-story is quite interesting for something featured in a fighting game.
Originality – 7/10
Within a genre, which I’ve always found a majority of developers to struggle whilst trying to make something different, Dead or Alive does this in it’s gameplay above all else. Whilst the character roster may be quite plain compared to others, especially Mortal Kombat, the elevated pace of the fighting throughout, and additional features during combat make for one of my favourite fighting genres.
In summation, Dead or Alive 3 was more than a worthy sequel to the second game, and rightfully helped to bring the series to true prominence during the sixth generation of gaming. Though the fourth game would prove to be even better in my own personal opinion, the third also helped to quell concerns over Microsoft’s first proper foray into console gaming, and was an excellent launch title, which still very much holds up.