previews\ May 12, 2006 at 8:00 pm

JAWS Unleashed - PS2 - Preview 2

E3 2006 Hands On Preview

When I interviewed Tommy Tallarico about his video game music tour, he told me that JAWS Unleashed would be one of his next titles. A full year passed and it seemed that, not unlike the careless citizens that went into the water, the game had disappeared off the face of the Earth.

Later this month it will finally surface. No waters will be safe. No boat will be protected. No human will get away without a serious fight. In JAWS Unleashed, you become the legendary shark. Developed by the makers of the Ecco the Dolphin series, JAWS has seamless controls and large, highly immersive environments. JAWS can do nearly everything the dolphin can and a whole lot more.

His goal: survival. To survive he must eat and destroy his enemies, and his only line of defense is his giant, razor-sharp mouth. The gameplay is dark and very gruesome. You can grab humans by the head, shake them a few times, and rip off their heads. Humans can be devoured piece by piece. Should you decide not to eat the entire body, the blood filling the sea will get the attention of other sharks. They’ll swim over quickly and fight over the remaining pieces, tugging and pulling at them like a chew toy.

If you’re disgusted, appalled, or a little of both, JAWS Unleashed is not for you. It’s not for the squeamish, or for anyone who thinks of the shark as the “bad guy.”

On the other hand, if you like immersive titles and enjoy the fun of eating / killing / destroying everything under and above the sea, JAWS Unleashed should definitely be to your liking.

Underwater effects use current-generation techniques (since the game was made for the current-gen consoles), but the water animation and combination of light and reflection effects are worth more than second glance. The texture of the water’s surface, the way it sways back and forth, forming ripples in between – it’s the way things were when PlayStation 2 first arrived. Developers got lazy shortly afterwards, avoiding cool water effects altogether. For a game that relies so heavily on water, it’s great to see that these developers did not overlook the importance of making their H2O look good.

Explore more than 10 environments and unleash real-time damage on enemies, vehicles and structures. This shark maneuvers unlike any other, thrusting his enormous body into the air with ease.

I didn’t get to experience it firsthand, but Majesco told me that the game will also include helicopter attacks. Humans will swoop in (to rescue fellow citizens?). Time it just right and you can leap through the air and bight into the helicopter, taking everyone down while destroying the vehicle with extremely explosive results.

There are no health packs in this game, so it’s important to stay healthy by eating whatever you can sink your teeth into. Humans aren’t the only way to satisfy your cravings – fish make great meals as well. From the tiniest and least filling, to big sharks that will attempt to take your life, this game has plenty of sea creatures to devour.

And if you lock-on to your victims before attacking, you can sneak up and take a bite without being detected. Mmm, mmm, mmm, tasty!

Boss battles include but are not limited to killer whales, giant squid, and humans who think they will be strong enough to win if they use a powerful boat. I’d laugh at them in the face right now, but unfortunately they’ve already become seafood.

Due for release before the end of the month, JAWS Unleashed is Ecco the Dolphin meets hell. It’s dark, violent, entertaining, and at times a little disturbing. Proceed with caution.


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