Review by JoQuo711

"Wet and Wild Fun"

Although it's been quite a while since the game came out, Wave Race: Blue Storm still stands as one of the better titles for Gamecube.

Probably the most impressive aspect of the game is the look and ''feel'' of the water. By feel, I mean the physics programmed into the game engine for waves. The feeling of riding a wave just right and going faster because of it, or riding against the waves and having your jetski literally bounce across the water is just amazing. The waves are realistically created and spread from other jetskis, and riding in their wake will change the way you have to steer. I guarantee that you will see the difference when you are in 8th place and close to the other racers from when you are in first place with no one ahead of you. The look of the waves perfectly compliments their feel...they almost look real. Other wave effects like crates and glaciers dropping into the water and my favorite, the two ships moving closer to one another in Ocean City Harbor, are very cool and increase the realism of the game. The second most impressive aspect of the game is the realistic portrayal of weather effects. Each track has five weather variations: sunny, partly cloudy, partly rainy, rainy, and stormy. The first time you experience the stormy setting, you will see just how much weather affects the game as the waves will literally pummel your watercraft and underwater visibility will decrease more and more. The graphics compliment the game's feel perfectly.

While not absolutely realistic, Wave Race certainly succeeds in convincing you that you are in different environments and weather conditions. The graphics are borderline great/excellent. One of my favorite environments is Aspen Lake, with it's autumn foliage and serene waters. On most of the tracks, you can see below the water (coral reefs, dolphins, orca, rocks, etc.) in sunny weather, and as the weather worsens, underwater visibility decreases. The textures are generally pretty good, but the riders could use some work.

As for the game's presentation, the menus look is great and it shows off some neat water effects, but their speed could use a can take about 15 seconds just to restart a tournament. The loading screens are pretty cool and the game loads extraordinarily quickly, with most tracks loading in under five seconds. While the presentation helps to enhance the feeling of being near the water, the sound, disappointingly, does not.

The sound in Wave Race is so-so. The commentators are terrible; thankfully they can be turned off, but their quality is inexcusable. The music is also lackluster, some tracks are good and some aren't yet you can't choose which tracks play while you race. The sound effects are very good and help bring the environments to life, but they are too often drowned out by the sound of the watercraft engines. The sound could use quite a bit of work.

The play control, on the other hand, is excellent. The watercraft handle very realistically thanks to the game's great physics engine. Although it may be frustrating, it makes sense that you would fall off of a jetski upon making a very tight turn and I'm glad to see this, and other little nuances, included. The stunts on the other hand are a tad disappointing. In fact, I can't think of a single instance in the tournament mode where I really felt the need to get a little extra turbo by performing a stunt was greater than the need to stay on the jetski, plus, the stunt mode feels like a bit of an afterthought as there really aren't all that many stunts to mater.

Once you unlock all of the tracks and weather conditions, no easy feat, the multiplayer mode really shines, as there are eight environments, six with three courses, one with two, and one with one, all of the courses with five weather conditions each, making a grand total of 105 different possible racing experiences, not to mention the stunt mode. Four player mode actually plays without a hitch, sacrificing reflections for framerate.

All things considered, Wave Race: Blue Storm is a great game. Although the sound can detract a bit from the experience, the game's strong points surely make up for it. Plus, in no other game can you see waves like these.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/27/02, Updated 05/27/02

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