Like I mentioned before the boat only has one set path it travels, unless you pass a point that has two arrows, one yellow and the other red. If you grind along these paths for the short period of time that they are, you make the boat take a turn and unlock a new path for the boat to take, thereby letting you find the missing gaps and objectives you are needing accomplish to complete the level. And speaking about levels…wow. The level design is fun, fantastic, and fancy-free. Large looming levels, with atmosphere to boot! You have plenty of places to go in each level and the amount of detail put into the levels is amazing. The levels range from an abandoned naval base, “The Boneyard”; a section of southeast U.S. aptly named, “The Bayou”; and a water park, “Ocean World”, to name just a few. You are able to see the entire level without the computer having to draw it in once you get close to that section. In each level there is a variety, no, a plethora, of things and objects to do tricks off of, from other boats, to canyon walls, even to cars traveling along a road (unrealistic, I know, but still loads of fun!). In some co-op challenges they even want you to grind your own boat!
Graphically speaking this game is probably one of the best I have seen in a long while. The amount of detail put into the backgrounds is astounding. Even on a low resolution the graphics have a hard time just being mediocre. For example, in the Lake Powell level every canyon wall has unique crags, splits, and colors to make for a wonderful sightseeing experience. Even the canyon walls in the way background have the white water mark halfway up. The walls in the background aren’t as amazing but when you are just paying attention to playing your character and landing tricks everything around looks realistic. Another find example of detail is the Tokyo level, where every building in the background has multiple windows, lit up or not you can still make out the hundreds of windows on each building. And on the signs and buildings you are tricking off of in the harbor each have multiple light bulbs. You could easily count how many light bulbs are on the buildings and signs.
The character models are outstanding as well. When selecting your character at the beginning you are treated to each individual face shape, color, and uniqueness as if you were staring into the eyes of the actual person. They rendered the human models to three-dimensional game models incredibly well. Every face is unique and different, they way it should be! The life-vests and wakeboards are the only things that aren’t that well rendered. When close up in the character select screen you can see the pixilation of the designs on the vest and wakeboard, but when you’re playing the game the vest and board look fine. It would be nice to see in detail the design on the board and vest for those of us that care about style and flair for the character. Back to the character models, in game and actually using them the models move very lifelike and fluidly to make the realism of performing the trick…well…real. If they turn around you can see the other hand wrap around their body to grab the handle of the rope as the body continues to turn. A funny part of the game is when you bail on dry land, after you stop rolling, your character just lies there on his/her side waiting for the boat to pick them up. Fantastic.
What would a wakeboarding game be without water though? Well, nothing! But fortunately the good people at Aspyr and Activision 02 brought you the best damn water effects in a game this side of the computer world. With water particles flying everywhere it is really hard to believe that you are not actually going to get wet. The crest of the wake moves in real time effects to wherever the boat has gone even if you make the boat turn a full 360 degrees the waves crash into each other with realism. Unfortunately there are a couple of issues, minor issues, but issues that make the game a little less serious, and more unrealistic. When the boat ramps something and is in the air the wake keeps continuing as if the boat was in the water still. And I thought there was supposed to be a wake when the boat reversed? Well, if there is, it’s missing in this game. Something else Aspyr might want to take a look at again. Turning on the option for Environmental Reflection is a real treat for the eyes as well. It slows down the computer considerably but if you have a computer that will be able to handle it, do it. The landscape distorts exactly like it would if you were to look at the actual reflection of a lake. Activision 02 spent some good quality time getting everything just right in this game, and Aspyr has done an incredible job of putting it on the Macintosh, and all in all, it has really paid off.
All in all, even with the few faults, this game is amazing. Tons of fun, single player and two players, and quite a challenge either way, this game offers a lot in the replay value department. Familiar and easy controls, ten levels with multiple things to accomplish within each level, and a gap checklist, I will say once this game is out on the shelves people will be having fun with this one for a while.