Gamestyle Archive intro: We’re heading back to 2002 with this early Xbox review from Alex Carroll. Appearing first on the PlayStation 2 in 2001, it was deemed an ideal port to the new console on the market.
Published: August 2002
Infogrames’ Xbox Sea-Doo racer is a refreshing break from the endless 4-wheeled racers that seem to have found favour on the Xbox recently. Running at a speedy 50 frames per second (expect when it’s raining, sadly) and sporting some superbly crisp arcade-style graphics Splashdown certainly looks the business, and that’s without mentioning the excellent water-effects which coupled with the more friendly handling and doubled frame rate means that Splashdown is much more fun to play than the Gamecube’s Wave Race which suffered from only moving half the speed of most modern racers.
It’s a rare shock to find yourself replaying the same tracks over again in a fairly niche title like this but some of the courses are so inventive and enjoyable (Madrid springs to mind) that you just can’t help yourself, especially given the built-in time trial mode. Handling is also well done, with finely tuned analog controls providing easy access to both tight cornering (tilt the stick up to lean into the water) and also to enable higher speeds (gradually pull the stick down to hydroplane the waves). You can also map accelerate and brake to the triggers so that the whole experience is nicely precise. Races take place against 4 other Sea-Doos (the game features many licenses) around a huge array of very different tracks, most of which even feature a harder course around the same track and a change of weather as the difficult increases, meaning there’s never a lack of variety on the tracks based loosely on locations taken from all over the world.
The best way to experience Splashdown is in the full Career mode where you can even win extra racers to add to your team should you beat them in the occasional one-on-one sections too. Aside from Career mode there’s a tutorial, single race, free roam (which is useful on the more challenging tracks) and a time trial, plus a slightly less smooth 2 player option which sadly suffers from the reduced frame rate but is still reasonably playable. Despite a fairly small selection of game modes there’s plenty to keep you busy and as we mentioned above, the time trial option is addictive enough to occupy a good few hours, especially if you’ve got friends to challenge you. With a decent enough soundtrack (featuring the likes of Sum 41, Blink 182 and our favourite – The Dude) and well seperated 5.1 Dolby Digital sounds, the only blip on the landscape is the nasty loading times that sadly threaten to spoil the game, but at least you’re presented with the forthcoming course map whilst the game loads the next level, and the transition from qualifying to the actual race in career mode is instant.
It looks and plays better than the PS2 version, and ultimately is a bigger, better game than Wave Race, so if you’re looking for a water-based racer we’ve no hesitation in recommending Splashdown if you’ve got an Xbox handy.
Gamestyle Score 8/10