Our classic review of Jaws Unleashed.
After months of actually waiting for Jaws to be Unleashed in the UK (Pun intended ), it came out to a very low key, and unadventurous release, which is surprising, showing what game this is, and what its about.
It was originally planned for July 21st 2006 release, but then got delayed, and then again delayed on the 22nd September, until it was finally released on the 20th October 2006. This is JAWS, one of the true hollywood blockbusters, on current generation form, everything from the ‘character’ to the music, could be used for the greatest marketing effect possible, (and also the fact that the Jaws 30th Anniversary DVD has come out) but for some reason, it wasn’t.
This might have been from a few various reasons, from current titles and games being dominated for ‘Next Gen’ or maybe due to the bad reaction in the US, with some bugs, glitches, and camera issues, but in most cases, if you just realise what this game is, an open-ended “Grand Shark Auto” you should start to have alot of mindless fun. This is a game that was originally announced back in 2003, as Sole Predator, and was a completely license-free shark-based action game long before the Jaws license came along.
Adding this license to the game should have been a great idea, as everyone has seen, if not, has heard of Jaws before , but due to being on a seemed limited release, and hardly no general advertising, apart from some sites and magazine picking up some news on its own accord, it would seem that this is a game that may soon be sleeping with the fishes, but it really should be rising from the depths.
Most ‘Movie To Game’ titles out there, have always had the reputation to be a poor game. People get sucked in, to play as their favorite movie characters, and unfortunatly most times are disapointed with the end product, as they hoped for so much more from that loved movie. Jaws certainly comes in the deep end, with a love hate relationship rising from the waters.. Jaws Unleashed is all about YOU!. Its about YOU as JAWS, and what you want to do as JAWS!. If you want a different free rooming, open-ended game world minus the usual guns, cars and pimps, Jaws Unleashed tries to simply do that as an underwater adventure, so it might be for you. If your that type of gamer, that has to have top notch graphics, sounds, animations, and alike, then maybe you should skip this, but i hope you dont and at least give it a try. Jaws Unleashed starts off with a short interactive tutorial, allowing you to get to grips with how to manover Jaws through the ocean, and how to do pull off some of the basic Jaws moves.
Moves include the basic bite that is used for chomping your fellow sea creatures, objects or unsuspecting swimmers. You then have the head butt attack, which can be used to wreck docks and boats, and also the reasonably effective tail whip, which again can be used on all sorts including sea cages, oil refinerys and the like.
You also learn some more gameplay manovers like your lock on, and aswell as your shark vision. These are just the start of a few moves, as throughout the game you will learn more moves from bodyslam and a corkscrew torpedo, aswell as the hard to master throw move, where you just use your mouth to throw an object above sea level in the air, and then catch it again in your mouth. Nice. Unfortunatly throughout the tutorial, you seem to realise that the way Jaws movement is handled, is not done very well. Some of the basic moves that you do, including the charged tail whip, seems to cause slight slowdown, which seems to be a disapointment, but the biting and the headbut animations seems to flow very well. In particular, the basic bite, with just what you can actually do to the humans floating above, or swimming under the water, brings alot of enjoyment to the player.
Of course Jaws is a massive white shark, that you can’t expect precision time and time again, but throughout this game it does expect that sort of precision for alot of the missions and even in the tutorial itself, mainly asking you to weave in and out, and move around the waters, is a chore at times, so this tends to be frustrating. But if you start to play through the game, you soon get the hang of the sluggish shark, and really will start enjoying yourself and getting the hang of things. While i’ve said that gripe, heres another problem with Jaws Unleashed, and its one of the biggest aspects in the game, which is camera angle. Most times you would have various amounts of enemies coming at you from all angles, and you can never really get the camera in the best position, without losing alot of life.
But throughout the tutorial, you did learn how to use your lock on and shark vision (There is also an option for 3 different camera angles if you are that stuck, first person, chase cam and smart cam), so if you do come up with the common camera problem, just take your time, and either manually look around, or just change to your your lock on feature or different angle, and more times than not, this will solve most of the camera issues. Regarding the camera issue though, we have to remember that this is a game that was created by Appaloosa International, who created Ecco The Dolphin, which is seen by many as the best underwater game in its genre to have come out on home consoles, and in Ecco there was also alot of camera problems aswell, due to how the game is played, (over the ‘shoulder’ view) which is a general problem with this sort of game, so if everyone loved Ecco, theres no reason that you can’t love JAWS Unleashed even more, because you soon start to realise that this is a pretty big open-ended game, with alot of mad and fun aspects, so if you can get past these few niggles, you soon realise that you are now one of the most iconis movie characters to date. JAWS. Lets go through a few details about the main game itself.
There are primary missions that propel the story, 32 side challenges, each with three levels of difficulty, and more hidden collectibles and bonus items than most other games out there. Think along the lines of The Godfather game, in the collectable and hidden stakes. You can collect various movie tie in clips, as well as numerous amount of information about the sea creatures that you encounter through out the game. So thats tickled your ‘Sandbox’ tastebuds, now lets have a go on you RPG buds. As you progress throughout the game, you get rewarded from the main mission, and side missions alike, with money to spend on your upgrades, including speed and power. As you increase these stats, you start to unlock those other moves and abilities that we spoke about like the corkscrew torpedo, which can be used at either a the touch of a button, or combination of a few. Aswell as these ‘Sandbox’ and RPG elements, other effects that you have to look out for is that as Jaws, you must keep moving so the water can pass over your gills and he can breathe, just like in Ecco where as a dolphin, you needed to come to the surface for air otherwise the players life would decrease. If you stopped moving, you would have a few second to move again, to regenerate that bit of health. So it does show, that some attention to real life details have been put into effect.
So you have now completed the tutorial, and the story itself starts to take place. You are then captured and after some in-game story clips find out that you have been taken to Amitys version of a Sea World,. There are several features that are ripped straight from Jaws 3 including the underwater control rooms, pedestrian walkway tubes, and observation bubbles. Where this game is funny, it can be very funny, as who would have thought that as Jaws, a shark in a tank, just swimming around, would have to take part in the popular stake in action games, of ‘locked doors’ and ‘key card finding’. Well you do, as the very first mission, you have to find a scientist, grab him in your mouth, swim around with him, and take him to the key reader, and swipe his body, to open your escape route form the first tank. This is the sort of fun that you will get up to in JAWS Unleashed. After the first part of this mission, follows a route of killing multiple innocent bystanders from either you eating them, with the gracious overly use of blood effect, of just watching them drown. You would then explore the rest of the theme park going through each direction that it tells you from breaking the glass to let out more water, so you can travel futher, to bashing the doors open, using your head-butt manover. After doing that you then are lead out to the main proformance ring, where this is your first boss encouter, and this is a baby killer whale, where after a few hits, and making him turn over, has a quite grusome ending. (and this is just the first boss).
Even though you can kill various creatures from whales, sharkes and dolphins, the most fun you get is killing all these innocent people, from jumping up and grapping them from the pavements or beaches, or just sneeking up from beneath them swimming. After a single bite of the arm, let them go, and watch them try and swim away, with blood pouring out of their body, or kill them enought to just let there bodies float to the water surface. A guilty pleasure game with overly use of blood and gore if there ever was one. Once you complete this first ‘Sea World’ level the game completly opens up into the huge open-ended game, and you now have access to your map, and the freedom to explore the ocean around Amity Island. You can complete the story as it goes, or do some of the spoken about sub missions and challanges, so you can upgrade your stats. Its really a pick and mis for you, but the more missions away from the story you do, the more powerfull you get to use throughout the story mode iteself so its worth mixing and matching. Completing this game is not an easy task, as where some missions straight forward, on the other hand some are pretty tough, and also the fact that Amity Island is huge, and you can swim for a good 10minutes to get from one side to the other, really puts you into purspective when it says your now in the ocean.
Story spots within the ocean are noted with a red dot, and until you complete that mission it will stay as that red dot, complete that story spot, and it will move to the next point, where you complete the main game. Side challenges are labeled by number on your map, and noted in the 3D world by a buoy that goes from white to yellow to red and finally green when you have passed all three challenge difficulties. There are alot of missions as stated, and you can complete one as one difficulty, then start another, and always go back to do the next difficulty of the one you left. The reason for 3 difficulties on the mission, is to gain points to upgrade Jaws, so its always a good idea to do them all. One problem was the side missions do not change colour when completed, so you travel half way around the map, to another mission, only to find out that you have already completed that one, but you can always gain more points from doing something better, so it might not be a major problem. While we are on the size of Amity Island, another problem is where the save points are located. There are only three scattered around this huge map, and all seem to be out of your way, so that can be annoying, but unfortunatly its something that you will have to live with.
The game at least saves after each story mission, but if you have done alot of side missions, and it freezes (which can happen) you will have to do everything all over again. It would have been good for an auto save feature after every major progress from side missions and main story missions, but that was not included.. After playing through the game, you now are able to look back at all these collectables that you have, best of all the movie clips from the JAWS films. Its a nice touch, which alot of ‘Movie To Game’ games, are including, to really make the partnership work well.
Overall JAWS Unleashed, is a totally different game to all these are GTA clones these days. Its not so much different in what you have to do, but what you have at your disposal, makes it a totally different matter.
Graphically this game is fine in most places, with some problems here and there with the animations, but with so much to do, and so much blood in your eyes, you should enjoy yourself on this one.
Animation can be poor at times, expecially in the video sequences when you rplaying story mode, but you have to realise that these have been done all by in game graphics, so at least your not being ripped of from flashes visuals that you only watch, to a poor game you play.
The sounds in this game are pleasing with general screams of terror, and music in the background. This game should have been QA tested a bit more before its release, It was pushed back a few months in the UK release, and this PAL version is great, but getting off on the wrong foot with a poor US release is not a great move.
This could have been a great game on the ‘Next Gen’ titles, with an overhauled graphics system, and for example if it was on Xbox 360, some really fun achievements like, kill a certain amount of swimmers, or eat so many seals or dolphin. It would have been something different on the ‘Next Gen’ instead of all these FPS.
But its not, and its out on PS2 and Xbox, and is a great addition to the console, so if you just remember what this game is about, that you are JAWS one of the most iconic movie characters out there, you should have some ‘Bloody’ fun!.
Gameplay – 7
Graphics – 6.9
Sound – 7
Value – 7
Overall – 7
Review by – Daniel ‘RockerJarvis’