Rainbow Studios does
"extreme" racing better than just about anyone. Whether on four wheels, two
wheels, on dirt or on water, Rainbow Studios knows how to make games that are the best in
their respective niche. Splashdown is no exception. All of the best parts of Motocross
Madness and ATV Offroad Fury are implemented here with a heavy dose of amazing looking
water to produce one of the best jet-ski games on the market.
The first thing that people will
notice when they start playing Splashdown is just how great the water looks. This is the
best, most realistic water that has ever been seen in a videogame. Wave Race: Blue Storm
on the Gamecube may have bigger waves, but they dont look as good as the waves in
Splashdown. The characters and their watercraft are all well done and merge seamlessly
with the great looking shorelines and superb looking water. The only real complaints about
the graphics are that, unlike Wave Race, the shorelines and everything else are not
reflected on the water; only the sky is reflected. This isnt much of a problem
though. The only other complaint is that Splashdown only moves at 30 frames per second. It
never deviates from 30 fps, but on hardware like the PS2, it is a bit questionable why
they didnt go ahead and make the game 60 fps. Again, this isnt all that
important, and unless you look really hard, you wont even notice it. Overall, the
graphics are exceptionally well done.
The gameplay in Splashdown proves that Rainbow Studios can make
the same magic on water that they did on dirt. The controls are easy to learn and do a
good job of representing how it feels to ride a real Sea-Doo. You pull back on the stick
to make your rider lean back and cause the Sea-Doo to hydroplane on the water, thus going
faster. Also, by pressing up on the stick, you make your rider lean forward causing you to
slow down and make sharper turns. When you get big air off of one of the many ramps in
each course, you can perform tricks that boost your performance meter, which increases
your top speed and acceleration. Going around each of the buoys also adds a bit to your
performance meter while missing one takes a big chunk out of your performance meter, and
if you dont have enough meter left, your craft will stall for a few seconds. It
takes a combination of all of these techniques in order to make it to the front and win
races on any difficulty other than easy.
several modes available in Splashdown, with the meat and potatoes of the gameplay being
the career mode where you build a team of world class Sea-Doo racers in a season of 12-20
races--depending on which difficulty you are playing on. In arcade mode, you can
participate in events like countdown, where you race around a certain number of buoys
before time expires, and time attack, as well as just running single races. The arcade
mode can be played with one or two players, and while multiplayer games are a nice
diversion, they are nothing special.
The sound in
Splashdown is fairly good. The music includes bands like Sum 41, Smash Mouth, SR-71, and
Blink 182. I found that the soundtrack suits the gameplay and doesnt detract from
the game at all, and that really is all you can ask from the music in a game. The Sea-Doos
sound great and their crashes and splashes on the water are all perfect. The only aspect
of the sound that isnt all that great is the comments occasionally screamed out by
the riders. And when I say scream, I mean it. The sound bytes just sound far too loud in
comparison to everything else that is going on. They usually involve the characters
stating how "extreme" they are, but they are repeated far too often and become
very annoying after a while.
Now, that has been all nice and fairly positive, and here is where
reality sets in. Despite the fact that Splashdown has all of the mechanics right, it
sounds, looks, and feels right, its major flaw is that it is fairly boring. The
courses are all nicely designed, but after the second race in the career mode, I was
already losing interest in the game. The monotony is broken somewhat by "arena"
levels where you choose an opponent and race around a course with banked turns and jumps
aplenty. But even these races were only fun for a while. Racing on water just isnt
as fun as racing on other surfaces. Once you learn the controls, it is just a matter or
applying them over and over and over on each of the courses and youll win. I know
the same thing can be said about other racing games, but they usually feature vehicles
that can be upgraded or at least feel dramatically different from one to the next.
Splashdowns craft all feel pretty much the same, and I simply became bored after a
Splashdown does a lot of things right. The graphics, especially
the water, are extremely well done. The sound and controls are good. But it suffers from
being too repetitive. I may be alone in this opinion, but racing on water kind of sucks.
When I first started playing the game, I could tell that everything was in place and that
it could be a great game. But after a few hours, I lost interest. I recommend renting
Splashdown first, and if it keeps you entertained for a weekend, buy it. But if you are
bored of it after a few hours, like I did, forget about it and go back to playing Tony
Hawk 3 or Metal Gear Solid 2.