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  Wakeboarding Unleashed Featuring Shaun Murray
From the Company
Rip across a lake behind a screaming speedboat, tricking through dangerous terrain with only a sliver or wakeboard between you and the blistering water blow. Feel the rush as you crash into houseboats and catch mind-blowing air in nine exotic locations with seven world-class wakeboarders.

The Skinny
When doing a review of an extreme sports game (especially one from Activision), it’s hard not to compare it to Tony Hawk Pro Skater. And while some might think that Wakeboarding Unleashed is a THPS clone, it’s not. Yes, you have pretty much the same set of controls, and have the same multiplayer “Tick Attack” and “Horse” modes, there are other gameplay differences that set these two games apart. One such tweak is your ability to let go of the pull rope and go “handless” for short periods of time. While this might not sound like much, it definitely add a whole new dimension to the otherwise limited “being pulled behind a boat” concept.

Something that I think was very well done in Wakeboarding Unleashed was the water/rope/momentum physics. Your speed is directly related to how well you handle yourself behind the boat. There was never a time when my speed/momentum seemed out of proportion to the position I was behind the boat. Very impressive! Learning how to control your speed is key to successfully pulling of big-air trick combos and reaching hidden areas. And with your ability to release and call-back the tow rope, you have much more control over the game than you would think. For example, if you were to release the rope, jump up and grind along a barrier (like another boat), and and then call back for the rope on the other side, you might end up taking a path that is not on the “main path” of the course.

Just like many other extreme sports games, Wakeboarding Unleashed has a both one and two player modes. In Career Mode, each level has three kinds of goals to achieve (Objective, Challenges, and Gaps) with no two levels having the same. As you complete these goals, new levels are opened up and you acquire stat points and new boards. The length of each run is determined by your groove meter. With each bail or incomplete combo, your meter lowers, and conversely, with each trick combo, it increases. A nice feature to aid you in finding the Gaps in each level is the “video clue” available to you. This will show you where each of the Gaps are… of course, knowing where they are is one thing, but being able to trick over them something else.

In single player mode, you are also able to do a Free Ride, which will enable you to ride around on each level to practice and line up each of your trick runs, without having to worry about your groove meter. You can also take the course from a different perspective, and that is in the Free Drive mode, which allows you to run the course from the controls of the boat.

In the Two-Player mode, you have four different options available to you: Tug-O-War, Trick Attack, H.O.R.S.E., and Co-Op Mode. Tug-O-War is a fun gameplay mode in which each player starts out with a set length of rope, and as each player pulls off tricks, the other player’s rope gets shorter. Of course the loser is determined by player who runs out of rope first.

The Co-op Mode was another neat twist on the game in which one player controls the wakeboarder and the other controls the boat in a split-screen fashion. This brings a whole new level of gameplay and allows you (and your buddy) to have complete control over the course. In this mode, there are completely different challenges and objectives than that of Career Mode. The geography of the each of the levels is the same, but most of the ramps and rails have been altered. This adds countless more hours onto the re-playability scale and is pretty damn fun ta boot.

The only let-down in the game for me was that you were stuck with the seven preset characters and not able to create your own. This however, I am willing to overlook since all of that effort was instead put into creating some of the best water effects I have ever seen in a PS2 game. Not only does the water look fantastic, but it’s probably the closest to real-life water physics in any game today. Awesome!

The Bottom Line
Honestly, I’m more of a first-person shooter kinda guy than a sports games fanatic. However, I had an incredible amount of fun playing Wakeboarding Unleashed. The controls are easy to learn and fun to try to master. You don’t have to be a wakeboarding fan or even know who Shaun Murray is to enjoy this game. Good work Activision! While there is no create-a-character or create-a-park feature, the amazingly realistic water physics makes up for it. The amount of gameplay and re-playability is awesome and definitely ranks as more of a buy-it than rent-it kinda game

Review ID Number: 480
  Product Details
Activision
Review Date: 2003-07-13
Reviewer: Shawn Sardy
Rating: 8 out of 10
 
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