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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Eidos

 

Developer

Opus

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2001

 

 

- 4 different modes of play
- 2 vehicle choices

 

 

- Jaggy graphics
- Stiff control
- No turbo boost
- Boring tracks
- Flat backgrounds

 

 

Review: Jet X2O (Playstation 2)
Review: Splashdown (XBox)

Review: Hydro Thunder (Dreamcast)

 

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Wave Rally

Score: 6.5/10

On paper, Wave Rally seems to do everything right.  Following the original Wave Rally on N64, the PS2 version incorporates all of the typical features of a jet-ski game with a few new features but its problems stalk it like Jason stalks his victims – they’re always right behind you just when you thought you had lost them.  

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This game brings me back to the early days of the PS2 when everyone debated it’s power and the word “jaggies” was being thrown around like confetti at a New Years party.  Since then, the nay-sayers have had to take the pessimism out of their mouths and put a controller in their hands for the PS2’s greatness but Wave Rally, at least graphically, seems it might have been better off as a launch title.  Joining the ranks of PS2 titles as the only jet-ski game to date it has an advantage, but entering the line up at a time when the graphics are at their highest pitch makes its graphical flaws more obvious. 

The environments are plagued with jaggies. From the water to the tracks obstacles and character design the game is given a coarse look by un-smoothed edges.  The overall environment is comprehensively crafted – the lighting is realistic enough to simulate a bright sunny day or a dark Venetian canal – but still blemished by the unrealistic water, stiff characters and one dimensional secondary background.  By secondary background I mean the scenery off in the distance beyond the primary scenery.  It encircles the scene like a band of tape and doesn’t match well the movement in the foreground.

 

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After playing games like Bloodwake on Xbox and experiencing near perfection of water physics I guess I’ve become too picky about water games.  While the game’s water enjoys changeable heights it seems a bit flat in comparison.  You feel sometimes like you're skimming the water and not slicing through it like you should.  Visually it’s beautiful when the waves come rolling your way but physically it wants for more.

 

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The good news is the game includes a wealth of play modes and small extras like the ability to choose between two different vehicles and the aforementioned advanced wave system. The “Freestyle” mode gives the player a wide open water arena to speed around in and do tricks.  The water comes in varying heights and a crowd “ooohs” and “ahhhs” (and sometimes “boos”) from the beach while you are graded on the style and execution of various tricks.  Then there is the “Time Trial” mode where you race for the best time and the practice mode where you can run the tracks that you have already opened without competition.

There are at least five levels including a Florida Beach and the canals of Venice. The best place to begin a regular game is the Championship or Arcade mode. Players choose from a generic group of characters and decide whether the race will be in Amateur or Professional mode.  After this you’ll find your character half submerged in water at the starting point.  The first point of frustration in the game is the laborious control even with the analog stick.  Navigating the many obstacles sprinkled around the course and the unforgiving buoys that bob here and there is nothing short of nightmarish at first. The buoys add a nice sense of responsibility to an otherwise pretty straight-forward ride but the required precision doesn’t match the controls very well. Once you realize that the ski will never turn or change direction if your finger is lifted from the accelerator it becomes a bit easier but still not exact. 

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The control pads configuration also feels a bit incomplete.  For starters, a turbo boost is conspicuously absent leaving the drone of the race feeling a little flat and monotonous.  Match this with the merciless AI of your opponents who never make mistakes and the general play becomes a treasure trove of frustration.  The first race is thumb-bloody hard to win or even place in the top three and there is no difficulty setting.  Otherwise, you hit ramps and stairways to catch some air and rolling tidal waves launch you into the sky in the middle of a race.  During the races, you pass through a number of check points (only in Arcade mode) that extend your racing time but if you miss one of the buoys your motor mysteriously goes dead for a second or two while you're punished for time. 

The soundtrack is probably one of the games biggest strengths. It has a techno-pop feel that matches the action well and doesn’t sound like it was created by some out-of-touch parents trying to impress their kids like a lot of games.

Overall I thought the game lacked any real innovation.  Things that have been done correctly in other wave race games are also done here without improving much for the new generation and thus appropriating a $50 upgrade. For fans of the genre scratching at the walls for a jet ski game this’ll have to do. For others (like me) who can certainly do without it, I don’t understand why you’ve wasted your time even reading this review.

- Doug Flowe

(March 5, 2002)

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