Dead or Alive 3
The real jaw-dropper
The crowd favorite at the Microsoft press conference was Tecmo's fighting game, Dead or Alive 3, which is, incidentally, exclusive to X-Box. The videos of Dead or Alive 3 were the most breathtaking I had ever seen since the Metal Gear Solid 2 video at last year's E3.
Butterfly in the sky... I can go twice as high!
Massive fighting environments, huge character models with seemingly tens of thousands of polygons each, and stunning levels all contributed to the huge ovation given after the presentation. The models in the game easily put those in the Dreamcast's Soul Calibur to shame, with hair and clothing that move and flail about naturally with the motion of the character.
The first level shown involved two fighters duking it out at the top of a luxurious penthouse suite. Ornate furniture appointed a large open ballroom enclosed by a huge floor to ceiling window. As the fighters skidded about the reflective floor, one was eventually thrown through the window, shattering the glass into hundreds of pieces that rained down on the highly detailed street below.
The unfortunate fighter fell through four levels of neon signs, breaking each into a shower of sparks that also rained down on the street before the fighter finally landed with a dull thud on the concrete.
Another memorable level involved a beach scene, with transparent water washing up the shoreline with the tide at sunset. The sunlight glinted off the surface of the bump mapped water, reflecting the hazy yellow orange sky above, dotted with the flapping wings of dozens of seagulls overhead.
The detailed texturing of the terrain was most noticeable in the eroded cliffs and mesas that decorated the landscape, giving a third dimension to an utterly gorgeous scene. The screenshot you see here doesn't tell the full story - seeing it in motion gives it even more impact as you can see the frothing and foaming of the tide as it washes ashore. That portion of the video played almost like a commercial for Carnival Cruises.
I guess lowering the zipper helps her fight better.
Can you hear the ocean?
My favorite portion of the video was the forest scene. The vision of what appeared to be a New England forest in the autumn, complete with hundreds upon hundreds of reddish orange leaves raining down from countless branches of the overhead tree canopy left me breathless. A stiff wind kicked up, creating a dust devil, swirling the dirt from the forest floor up along with the already fallen leaves into a hazy tornado that shrouded the arrival of a ninja-like warrior to the fighting scene. The sight of the sunlight cascading in discrete beams through the still densely packed leave canopy overhead completed the scene in what I could only describe as the closest I have seen a video game get to true art.
If anyone had any qualms about the X-Box's power, DOA 3 sent the doubting Thomases scurrying for the exits. Our only question is: why have so few of the American developers shown anything as inspiring as Tecmo has with the X-Box? What else is Microsoft hiding?