Watercraft titles have never really hit it off during the last generation of gaming. Through out the past 6 years, we only saw one excellent watercraft title, and that was Nintendo's WaveRace 64. An amazing title that featured awesome gameplay with some great looking waves, WaveRace was one hell of an extreme sports title. The lack of watercraft titles was most likely because of the lack of hardware, powerful enough to create realistic wave physics, among other things. But now it's different, with gaming technology more powerful than ever, watercraft titles won't be as far and between as they were before. With Eidos' Wave Rally scheduled for release this year, and Infogrames extremely breathtaking Splashdown geared for a Fall 2001 release, it looks like things are just getting started.
Take a gander at the most recent screenshots of Splashdown, this game has the most gorgeous water effects period! I've never seen water look that beautiful, realistic, and organic. In fact, the water looked real enough to drink. Looking at the game in motion, I was floored, the crafts move realistically the water looks stunning, and the backgrounds: detailed to perfection. The game will include many outdoor levels such as Hawaii, which of course is a tropical setting, and looking at a few tropical screens of Splashdown, you'll notice that the backgrounds are immense, full of detail that shout attention to detail. Rainbow Studio is doing an amazing job with texturing as well; every watercraft looks sharp, and feature absolutely no visible visual flaws. Mark my words, it'll take a lot -from Nintendo's title- to dethrone the visual splendor that Splashdown holds, and by the looks of things it doesn't seem very likely.
Rainbow Studios dubs their game as a "personal watercraft racer," for the confused this means that your hydro vehicle is not a jet-ski or anything of the WaveRave nature. Instead the crafts in Splashdown are sit down models, so the racer is actually sitting while he's controlling his craft, just take a look at the screenshots and you'll see what I mean. Borrowing the aggressive AI from ATV: Offroad Fury, Rainbow says that their AI is powered by a unique system called "ALOD," or Automatic Level of Difficulty. How this works is simple; the AI recognizes your abilities and adjusts to them, creating a diverse challenge, that is never extreme or in some cases impossible. Throughout the game you will have 18 tracks to choose from, many of which must be unlocked in the career mode. Speaking of modes, Splashdown features a few aside from the aforementioned Career mode, there is a Training mode, Head to head mode, a Free-ride mode, which includes secrets that will help you open secret characters, and a balloon popping mini-game. As you should expect from a product such as this, there are many tricks you can perform, while riding or surface or airborne. Look for Splashdown to hit retail shelves this Fall, presumably mid-November.