Hands-on: Splashdown 2

We get a chance to check out Rainbow Studios' Sea Doo racing game.

At a recent THQ press event, we had an opportunity to check out one of Rainbow Studios' latest projects, Splashdown 2. After listening to feedback and complaints about the original Sea Doo racing game, one of the first issues that the development team tackled was the wave physics. As such, there's now much more variety in the waves, and the effect they have on the races is much more pronounced. In fact, the development team has created an engine that lets it place one of several different types of waves anywhere on the course, which will come into play in the latter stages of development, when the team starts tweaking some of the courses.

Interestingly, waves aren't the only substantial change that's been made since the original game, as the most of the visual style has changed. Instead of going for a somewhat realistic look, Rainbow Studios has instead opted for a much more cartoonlike look, with vibrant colors and generally softer environmental details. In addition, the environments are somewhat similar to those seen in Midway's Hydro Thunder in that there's always lots of action in the background.

The courses in Splashdown 2 will also change slightly after each lap. We saw this aspect of the game in action while racing on a pirate-themed course. After you complete the first lap, a pirate ship comes bursting out of a massive rock (like in the scene in The Goonies) and begins firing at a fort off in the distance. During the third lap, the fort fires its cannons at the ship, blowing it up and creating a massive hole right in the center of the ship that you can actually race through. In this particular course, there's even a massive treasure room with mounds of gold lining the waterways. Another course in Splashdown 2 is set in the Arctic, and like the pirate course, there's a lot going on in the background. You'll see a massive walrus chase after a group of penguins, ice shards falling from the roof of a cave, and a variety of other things.

A few tweaks have also been made to the series' gameplay in Splashdown 2. In the original game, your rider would fall off his or her Sea Doo if you didn't correctly land a trick, but in Splashdown 2, you'll merely loose speed. Moreover, tricks can be chained together, so a tier-one trick can be changed into a tier-two trick--though, of course, chains are a little more difficult to pull off. The control is still spot on, but it can take some time to get used to the new wave physics.

Rainbow Studios is still in the process tweaking and constructing levels, as well as adding new features like extensive chatter between individual riders. We'll have more on the game before its release in June.

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