previews\ Oct 24, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Jet X2O - PS2 - Preview

Are you ready for some high-flying, trick-performing, water-racing action?  Then look no further than Jet X2O, a watercraft racing game from the same publisher that brought you the Jet Moto series.  Jet X2O is being developed by a different studio -- Killer Game -- but Jet Moto's better qualities (speed, large tracks with shortcuts, etc.) are all present in this game.  You'll also find qualities of Wave Race 64, Splashdown and ATV Offroad Fury in this excellent title.


Jet X2O begins with a gorgeous menu screen that demonstrates the game's outstanding water technology.  The water calmly, peacefully sways, showing some of the most impressive liquid textures to date.  Not surprisingly, this aesthetic masterpiece sets the mood for what turned out to be an exceptional demo; and is a good indication of what's to come in the final version.


Gorgeous graphics were expected, so I'll get into the visuals later.  What really matters is the gameplay, and let me tell you, Jet X2O delivers!  Any fan of ATV Offroad Fury will be compelled from the start, since the gameplay is very, very similar.  The trick system will instantly remind you of ATV, as well as Splashdown.  All of the shoulder buttons function as trick "starters;" that is, a button that you hold down to prepare for the performance of a trick.  While holding down, say, L1, you could press up to perform a NacNac (both hands on the handlebars; right leg in the air, leaning towards the right).  The longer you hold the trick in position, the more points you'll earn.  Of course, that's not easy to do when you're falling, but as you get better at jumping off ramps, you'll be able to gain more air and perform longer tricks.


As revealed in my interview with Kolbe Launchbaugh (producer of the game), Jet X2O is not big on buoys.  You can drive wherever you want, whenever you want (so long as there's water -- you can't move on land).  There are check points, which fill up a power meter than can be unleashed any time by pressing the square button (similar to SSX).


I love how the riders react to a crash.  They don't simply let go of the handlebars and let themselves fall in the water; they hang on for dear life!  When slammed into a large rock, the rider will flip over the front of his watercraft, nearly falling off (a la every other jet ski racer out there).  But in this game, the riders continue hanging on.  They'll then swing around and pull themselves back onto the watercraft.  It may not sound like much, but trust me, it is very cool.


Jet X2O 's water is more transparent, and a little less textured (than Splashdown), creating a unique mix of water effects that will impress you just as much as last year's great aquatic racers.  Ripples are less common, but the water never, ever stops moving.  It's a very subtle realistic effect that can't be fully described in words.  Certainly, I can tell you that the trees' shadows create a wavy dark spot that drenches the water in even more realism.  I can tell you that the splashing effect is nearly jaw-dropping; and I can tell you that transparency of the water looks really amazing, especially in motion.  But no screenshot or movie or even this preview will be able to describe Jet X2O in great enough detail.  There's just too much to see, so you're going to have to play this one for yourself.  I'm sorry to impose, but really, it's the only way.  You'll thank me later.


Only one track was included on the demo, so this is likely only a taste of what the full version has to offer.  No matter what, Killer Game deserves a ton of credit for creating water effects that are not only greatly different from the competition, but are truly great.


More beautiful and more entertaining than Splashdown?  That has yet to be determined.  One thing is for certain though: Jet X2O will turn a lot of heads when it splashes onto store shelves on October 29th.

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