Wave Rally Review

7 min read

Experience all the thrills and excitement of competitive JET SKI® racing as you launch off realistic crashing waves, speed over jump ramps and perform spectacular freestyle tricks. Race through the beaches of Florida, the white waters of New Zealand, the canals of Venice and more, leaving the competition in your wake.

Jet ski racing is taking its place among gamers much like the sport of snowboarding – three years ago, no one cared about either showing up on their PlayStation or Nintendo 64. Then Wave Race hit, and before you could say “foam trail” there were lots of competitors on the market. Games like Hydro Thunder, and this year’s entry on the PS2, Splashdown, took the Jet Ski racing genre in new and mostly fantasy-based direction. Then Wave Race: Blue Storm came out and put the genre back on the race circuit track – it was more about racing than finding hidden areas and performing tricks. Wave Rally could have been the game that made the difference, but the control problems actually hindered its rise to fame.

Wave of the Future

The graphics were definitely not the problem. All of the tracks, from the swamps to the Italian-themed canals to the sunny California beaches are expertly represented, with realistic wave effects and some of the best water on the PS2. The water looks so good in fact, that it rivals Wave Race: Blue Storm in graphical achievement. There are also great weather and lighting effects for each level, with details like foam trails and interactive crowds. The bikes are crafted after real Kawasaki Jet Ski’s, but you won’t notice it – the action moves so fast that it’s almost impossible to notice logos or decals.

The sounds go for a techno-retro feel, but they fall far short of their goal. Unlike Extreme G-3 Racing, the techno music never connects with the action, leaving you with a dull and lifeless soundtrack. That’s unfortunate for a game that thrives on action, but it’s also what happens when you don’t try to match the soundtracks of similar alternative racing and trick stunting games like Dave Mirra or Tony Hawk. It’s obvious after only a couple of laps that the music doesn’t fit in with the action.

Titanic Controls

The controls are the game’s biggest problem. The Jet Ski control like real JetSki’s would, but unless you’ve driven a real JetSki, you’re probably going to want something a little easier from your first wave racing game. The vehicles don’t make the tight turns as smoothly as you’d like, and actually lumber around marker buoys like a cruise ship rather than a JetSki. Meanwhile, the AI is so ramped that your competition never makes a mistake – in close races, missing one buoy will lose the race – and they seem to find the shortcuts a lot faster than you. That said, the tricks (which are so understated that they’re an asterisk to the action rather than part of it) don’t really add anything to the game.

Wave Rally is good game that’s not a lot of fun to play, mostly because the action is much too realistic to be any fun. The really annoying part of the racing is the fact that you have to race through a whole circuit in order to win or place. This means that if you make a mistake and don’t qualify for the next round, you have to start the whole game over again. It’s especially annoying when you’ve made it to the tenth race and have to go back to the beginning. It’s also just part of the problem – without the fun, you definitely won’t want to put in the effort.

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