Dead or Alive - Xtreme Beach Volleyball - Xbox

Where does one start with this title? Of course you could champion that the game fills that all-important void in the beach volleyball video game category. You could also argue that surely it is better to have the youth of today playing team sports rather than the usual bout of beat 'em ups or FPS. But while the graphics are impressive, there is something that mums and dads will be questioning as their teenage sons stay glued to the television set, are they really just playing the game?

With the Xbox positioned towards the teenager or student Microsoft feel they have hit the nail on the head with this one. After all, which other sport allows all your characters to be scantily clad women prancing around on the beach. Those hoping for a re-enactment of the scene with Goose and Maverick in Top Gun will be disappointed.

So to the game itself. To get you going you have two main options: Exhibition - which allows you to get straight into the action, or Zack's Island - a sort of campaign mode where you can play volleyball, make friends and buy new swim suits and stuff.

Exhibition mode offers a choice of characters - eight in all - as well as the chance to choose your setting. Taking full advantage of the four controller points, Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball has been made to share.

Zack's Island on the other hand hasn't been made to share and you can find yourself roaming around without a game to play. If this happens it seems you have no other option than to take a rest by the pool, sit back, and watch the eye candy.

With no real challenges to conquer, your main drive is to fuel your shopping habits. This can be done in a number of ways, either by playing games of volleyball and winning some cash or heading to the hotels casino and earning it through the likes of roulette or black jack.

Controlling your character and the all import camera angles is relatively simple with the control mechanism based on how hard, or should I say, how excited you get. Bash the button and you get a powerful shot, tap it faintly and you'll get something so lame even your grandmother could take it.

The graphics are very what you would expect from a game of this nature. Hair moves, swim suits gig and sand sprays when you fall over.

Verdict

It does however, make for a great game. As a bloke, of course it does. As a gamer. I'm not so sure. Just like women's tennis, none of the characters seem to have the power to beat their opponent when matches begin. Unlike women's tennis there are none of the long rallies which show the proper prowess and battle of wits of the players in question. The voiceover's entirely Japanese suggesting that this a pure port from what eventually boils down to a crazy Japanese game. Will any red bloodied men enjoy this game? Most likely. Will they actually play it for longer than a week? I very much doubt it.