Welcome to Jet X2O where high speeds, big air, and insane tricks on a personal watercraft are the name of the game. Jet X2O is the next game in a long line of extreme sports games and takes elements from SSX and Wave Race and mashes them together to make a new high flying take on the extreme sports racing genre. But is this a good thing or does it end up feeling like the same old thing with a different package?Being a game that combines SSX and Wave Race concepts shouldn’t be a bad thing and if you like games like SSX and Wave Race you should like Jet X2O but don’t expect anything that new and exciting. The intro of the game screams of SSX with the characters being shown doing tricks and standing there saying their signature tag lines. Then, once you get past that you are greeted with long load times and a menu that isn’t that stylish and kind of looks rushed which really hurts the whole game.
From the menu you can choose from three different play modes which are World Tour, Single Event, and Big Wave. World Tour is your standard season mode which makes you place in the top rankings to progress to the next round and earn new characters, personal watercraft, and upgrades. Single Event allows you to race on any of the tracks you have unlocked in World Tour mode in either single or multiplayer modes. You also get to choose from Trick, Race, and Combo modes after choosing Single Event. Trick mode allows you to compete for points by only doing tricks. Race mode makes you race to the finish without worrying about tricks. And, Combo mode is the same as World Tour in that it makes you perform tricks to earn turbo boosts so you can go faster and finish first. The winner of Combo mode is the person that gets to the end of the race the fastest while getting the highest score for performing the most tricks. The last option on the menu is Big Wave mode that allows you to roam around an open area practicing your tricks, barrel rolls, subdiving, and turning without being judge and with no time limit.
Like I said above, the menu system in Jet X2O is its biggest drawback. After loading your World Tour character you have to go back to choose a different jet ski or player costume. Then the only way to choose a different character is to start a new World Tour game and lose all the upgrades and other things you have earned. Plus if you save after a certain track and can’t beat the next one because your watercraft isn’t fast enough or you can’t earn the predefined amount of points you have to start a new World Tour game again to go back. This can get very annoying and could ultimately lead to people giving up. There also isn’t an autosave feature so you have to manually save after every race. Maybe this is a good thing since the previously mentioned problem with saving after a race could be even worse if the game autosaved. The other thing about the menu that makes it seem rushed is that the bonus making of the game video is located on the Options menu instead of the main menu or under an Extras menu. Maybe they wanted it to be an Easter egg you would find in the game but it really seems more like something they added on at the last minute. So, the menu and save system really hurts the game and it is a shame since other parts of the game are good.
The graphics in Jet X2O are really good and have some nice touches like water spraying from the jet skis, rolling waves of water, rushing rapids, fluid trick animation, detailed scenery that doesn’t repeat, and more. These features give you a true sense of speed and make you feel like you are blasting down a river at 90MPH on a personal watercraft. The levels range from glaciers to ruins with lava flowing, to mountain cliffs with huge waterfalls to a futuristic city. They are long, have nice detail and scenery to view, contain multiple paths and shortcuts, and plenty of places to catch big air and pull off the 30+ tricks that are available in the game.
Speaking of the tricks in Jet X2O, they are fun to pull off and you have enough to not get bored. This is a good thing since the game is designed to have you pull off tricks to get turbo boosts and also score high at the end of the race to move on to the next round in the World Tour mode. Progressing to the next track is based on your total points accumulated via finishing first and getting the highest trick score by pulling off the most tricks. The learning curve for the tricks and game is kind of high if you want to finish first or high enough to move on to the next round, especially, in the Pro and Expert levels. Ultimately, this difficulty may end up discouraging some people.
The sound in Jet X2O is normal for this style of game and nothing spectacular but also not bad either. There are the standard watercraft sounds and waves crashing that sound good and add to the atmosphere. They don’t distract by sounding wrong or out of place. The music is the standard techno dance type that a lot of these types of games have and it fits but doesn’t stand out. It isn’t bad but isn’t good enough to be memorable and most of the time it is just filler. That is fine since it at least isn’t annoying.
Jet X2O also has a multiplayer mode that allows you to play the Trick, Race, and Combo modes mentioned above via split-screen with a friend. It is fun and plays just as well as the single player mode but does suffer from some slowdown in some parts where there are a lot of graphics and activity on the screen at once. This doesn’t hurt the experience but it is kind of surprising since this game is developed by an in-house Sony developer and you would think they would have the PlayStation 2 coding down by now. Once again this might be because the game was rushed and they didn’t have time to fully optimize the code, but I guess we will never know.
So, is Jet X2O the worse game ever? Definitely not but it could have been a lot better if they would’ve only taken a little more time to tune the multiplayer mode, load time, menu system, World Tour structure, and added an autosave feature. If you can ignore these downsides and like extreme sports, racing, and jet ski games you may enjoy Jet X2O. It does have nice graphics and sounds and once you are actually racing it is a lot of fun. But, the bad things in the game overshadow the good and it is hard for me to give it as high of a score as I wanted to when I read the cover of the box.
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