Splashdown 2: Rides Gone Wild
The original Splashdown was loved and hated in equal measure. We can’t be sure whether this was due to the realistic Sea-Doo racing or the topless page three girls who pouted at us from the adverts. Perhaps it was a bit of both.
With the release of this sequel, Splashdown 2: Rides Gone Wild, we may be able to clear up the matter. The page three totty have been politely asked to cover up and move on, but also, so has the realistic gameplay. In their place is a bold, colourful, almost cartoon racer. It would appear that whilst we were busy maiming pedestrians in Vice City, PS2 gaming has been toned down.
We still get the same nice undulating wave effect, but the feeling that we had in the original of skimming across those waves at speed has been muffled. Take a tour of the new World Circuit mode: everything you trusted about this series gets trussed up in chains and sunk to the seabed. The realistic races through quays and across recognisable sandy beaches have been replaced by a time-shifting Bermuda Triangle, a freezing arctic cavern and what appears to be Jurassic Park. Now these levels do, granted, look spectacular, and they certainly evoke the theme park atmosphere that the developer was aiming for. The course scenery animates and changes with every lap, new routes emerge as icebergs come crashing down, or a dinosaur decides to take a walk right in front of your Sea-Doo.
The only problem is, just as the visual style has been ramped up and reduced to looking like an episode of an anodyne Saturday morning cartoon, the gameplay has been reduced to fit. Where once you would fire vibrato insults at the game because you’ve crashed on another sharp bend, now you just smile pleasantly as another corner is navigated a full pelt. It’s now just too damn easy.
But initially you don’t notice, as the animated scenery grabs your attention. Splashdown 2 is the gaming equivalent of having your pocket picked by David Copperfield; the American’s impressive hair transfixes us, but really the ‘magic’ belongs on Blackpool pier, being cooed at by pensioners.
We’d love to be able to answer the question posed at the start of this review, but seeing as both the gameplay and the puppies have been removed from Splashdown 2, we can’t. In many ways this is a totally different game to Splashdown, one younger games players will enjoy and the rest of us can frown at.