Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2 could have been the perfect game for women. No, seriously. We mean it. See, research suggests that men and women play videogames to fulfil entirely different needs. While males are driven by a sense of progression and achievement, females prefer something a little more emotionally-involving. That's why you'll find a thousand and one middle-aged business women tickling the snout of their pretend-puppies with a cotton bud on train journeys the length and breadth of the land, and that's why we get literally tens of letters from readers bemoaning that their other half constantly commandeers their Xbox 360 for endless games of Bejewelled 2.
Now, that brings us to DOA: Xtreme 2. It's not actually a game at all - at least not one as we know it. It's all about forming relationships with one of the other girls on the island by reading up on their likes and dislikes and buying them nail polish and bikinis and tofu until they agree to be your volleyball partner. It's set to a lady-friendly soundtrack featuring the likes of B*Witched (you remember them, right? The Irish lot? Oh well...) and Sweet Female Attitude (No, us neither) partying like it's Now That's What I Call Music 1999, and on the surface this sounds rather like the epitome of this new lady-friendly vision of gaming. And perhaps it could have been, if only it didn't portray all the women in it as vapid, childish, vain, moronic CRETINS.
BLAMMO IN YOUR GROIN!
But, whatever. Dead or Alive gets a score of 30, and it doesn't get 30 because we're on a moral crusade or because Germaine Greer is looking over our shoulder as we type (we've banned her from the office). No, DOA X2 gets a score of 30 because, as a game, it's fundamentally broken. The volleyball mini-game -the only real selling point bar the tits in the first DOA: Xtreme - has not only been scaled back but utterly buried, as you can't play it without forming a relationship first, a process so laboriously arbitrary and free of satisfaction that we'd rather chew on a jellyfish than go through it again. But we're going to have to, aren't we? You need to know why it's so bad. Okay. Let's do it.
Pick a girl and we're into the action and - you DID remember to write down all the girl's likes and dislikes, didn't you? Of course you didn't, so keep the manual close. When you begin, Tina will show you the basics of New Zack Island - each day is comprised of four time slots, the first three of which can be filled with an activity, the last of which, night time, can be spent in the casino. You'll also learn that there are three stores, all of which are filled to capacity with crap - and if you want to purchase it all, you'll find the easiest way to win money is by partaking in the seven mini-games, some of which have to be purchased in their own right:
Volleyball - Which is a not-at-all bad arcade game in which success is dependant on rhythm and timing.
Jetski Race Thing - Think Wave Race 64, except without the waves. We were toying with giving it 6% until the latter tracks opened up, which are actually a little fun.
Butt Battle - Use the analogue stick to butt-bump your opponent into the drink. Or stick your hand in the toaster. It's largely the same experience, only a little more thrilling.
Beach Flag Race - Hammer the a button so fast that you physically go back in time until before this game was conceived. Only then can you achieve what our ancestors called 'happiness'. You know what they say about ignorance.
Tug-O-War - Words cannot describe how devastatingly bad this is, but we'll try: This is abominable loathsome repulsive utter shit.