Review by Benny21

"Wakeboarding? What's that?"

Wakeboarding Unleashed: featuring Shaun Murray is the latest THPS type title from Activision. What is Wakeboarding? Who is Shaun Murray? I had no clue either until I played this game. Wakeboarding is basically strapping yourself onto a cross between a surfboard and a boogie board, and using the waves a speedboat creates (a.k.a. the wake) to launch yourself in the air for some amazing tricks. Well enough about that, onto the review.

The only factor that makes this game work is the water, so thankfully quite a bit of time was put into making the water look and flow realistically. When the boat turns left the water rises to the left, when a making a hard turn and your boarder puts his/her hand into the water there is an immediate reaction causing the water to splash up.
This game has by far the BEST character models I have ever seen in an Activision game, especially on the women. Anyone who has played a THPS game knows that if the character models for a male skateboarder are rigid, then those for the women look like toy blocks pushed together. Wakeboarding unleashed finally corrects that. Each Wakeboarder has actual curves on their face, their bodies look normal, rather than stiff boards that can crouch, and they all have fingers, which are independent of each other.

There are not many cons for graphics. I have seen a few graphical glitches in the game, but nothing that would hinder the game play. Although these graphics are not Dead or Alive caliber, they’re pretty damn good based on former Activision games.

Game play:
Beginning the game the game play seems like just another THPS copy, but once you learn the tricks of the trade it truly is a unique in and of itself.

This game has nonstop action because you can never stop. The wake boarder hangs on to the rope, and although you can let go of the rope, you eventually slow and stop, at which time your character is automatically reset behind the boat to continue. The controls are pretty straightforward as far as the game goes (A is jump, Y is grind, etc.), as are the early objectives (get a certain score, grind on something, manual a certain number of feet, etc.). Here's a quick list of the good aspects of the game play:
-Letting go of the rope to launch yourself in the air, and grabbing it before you hit the water.
-It has fun levels ranging from huge to small including Hong Kong, Springfield, and Water world amusement Park (my personal favorites).
-The ability to drive the boat in all levels.
-The ability to hit cows, sheep, and little Chinese men with the boat (c’mon any game with that is an instant classic).
-Linking gigantic tricks off a vert ramp because of the boat pulling you.
-Using a groove mode rather than timed levels, which allows you to continue playing by pulling off tricks. This keeps you playing nonstop.
-2-person co-op mode allowing one person to drive the boat while the other does tricks.
-You can’t customize your moves, or specials.
-No create a boarder, or create a level mode
-A few tricks are ridiculously hard, but required to advance.
-At points the boat’s route hinders your ability to explore, or hit certain tricks.
-Can’t change the board’s picture, but you can change the board itself.

-A good soundtrack of classic rock, which I didn’t turn off right away as I usually, would.
-Good sound effects
-Custom soundtrack enabled

-The custom soundtrack toggles songs on and off randomly when changing levels, which makes it hard to set it to your tastes.
-It’s difficult to save a customized play list of songs for long periods of time.

The good, the bad, and the desired:

Good: The ability to drive the boat freely. This went above and beyond the game’s description as far as I’m concerned.

Bad: Not being able to customize tricks was my most hated aspect of the game. I don’t even need all the tricks, just the specials.

The Desired: Make a create-a-boarder and create-a-level mode for next time. There’s nothing funnier than seeing a 300 pound midget in a panda suit lose control and hit a wall.

Graphics: 9.0
Game play: 9.2
Sound: 8.5
Lasting appeal: 8.9

Overall (not an average): 9.1

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/09/03, Updated 07/09/03

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