Archives by Day

June 2023

Jaws Unleashed

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Appaloosa Interactive


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

Xbox Review - 'Jaws Unleashed'

by Geson Hatchett on Aug. 5, 2006 @ 2:12 a.m. PDT

Amity Island is growing, making corporate connections with prestigious companies like Environplus to improve the Island's economy. Unfortunately the increased population around the Island and recent industrial activity has also attracted YOU--one of Earth's most fearsome creatures--a Great White Shark. When the Environplus CEO’s son falls prey to your deadly attacks, the CEO hires renowned shark hunter Cruz Ruddock to track and kill you. Meanwhile, Marine Biologist Michael Brody tries to capture you for research. Can Ruddock and Brody stop you from causing havoc and killing more people before the 4th of July celebration?

Genre: Acton
Publisher: Majesco Games
Developer: Appapaloosa Interactive
Release Date: May 23, 2006

Imagine, if you will, that you are a killer shark. You are, in fact, the king of sharks. You are Jaws. Yeah, let's just call you Jaws. Nice name. Fitting, and all that. You're a famous movie star who's risen to the top by way of homicide. Who could ask for a better job?

What, then, would you do, if you were Jaws?

You'd probably be swimming around the ocean blue, looking for food to munch on with your massive, well, jaws. You'd be terrorizing swimmers at beaches, overturning fishing boats, and proving your superiority of the seven seas. Perhaps you would go on a quest to unlock the mysteries of the deep so that you could … find more food to eat, preferably food that screams in many amusing ways.

In short, you would be like Ecco the Dolphin, only freaking evil. Also, hungry.

It's a shame that this game doesn't know any of these simple facts.

When you first boot up Jaws Unleashed, it's actually not all that bad. The first thing you'll notice is the oceanic world that you're plopped into. The graphics are pretty good — highly detailed, especially where Jaws is concerned. Jaws himself is well-rendered, allowing you to take in every inch of his impressive scaly body. When Jaws sinks his teeth into something (or someone), he doesn't rest until he's crunched through it thoroughly, leaving a trail of blood in his wake, with his mouth as its point of origin. Water bubbles and rifts convincingly when he lashes his tail about; the downside to this is that it causes slowdown, even on the Xbox.

So far, so good; unfortunately, many of these graphics come with a slight problem. They actually get in the way of the gameplay. It's not uncommon at all for Jaws to get stuck in a tiny, badly laid-out crevice of the game world, or to even become immobilized by an errant texture. It can take nearly a minute to get Jaws out of his predicament, and this can happen as early as the tutorial stage, multiple times.

The music consists of mediocre remixes and revisits of the famous "Jaws" theme. It's like the Goldeneye 64 soundtrack, only far more boring. However, one thing that is satisfying is the sound effects. Hearing the screams of the people Jaws terrifies never gets old, nor does the satisfying crunch of wooden boats and structures when Jaws chomps them to bits.

This all means that Jaws is pretty fun for a little while. The first stage is as good as it gets, mainly because it's one of the few stages where you're actually able to do what Jaws would do. You're in the open water, munching on swimmers and fish. You get to cause tons of destruction and mayhem, and make people run for their lives. The game actually tells you to cause structural damage, and it's almost impossible not to feel a rush of power when you make a harbor house fall to the depths by munching on the wooden supports under it. It's like Rampage: Ocean Edition. It works.

Sadly, this is where the fun ends. Even in this first level, there are problems. Midway through the level, you're supposed to attack swimmers without being seen. (Yes, folks, in the tutorial level, we've already got hackneyed stealth gameplay!) Should the swimmers notice you, they run to the safety of land, where you cannot follow. If this happens, you're effectively forced to restart the level at checkpoint. The game gives you no opportunities otherwise to redeem yourself.

There are more suspensions of disbelief at hand! During the course of this stage, you are asked to upgrade Jaws' "attributes," keep an eye on his "hunger meter," and make sure to gain "experience points" wherever possible. This is because, as we all know, Jaws clearly has no experience in crunching things. Also, you can collect sunken license plates throughout the game to unlocks secrets.

Taking out a harbor? Prepare to get stuck on so many pieces of wood it's not even funny. While you're attempting to get your crunch on, make sure to watch your hunger meter, or Jaws will be in danger of dying, with the game only sometimes taking the time to alert you of this.

Please note that all my griping about this game so far has only had to do with the first level. This is because these first level woes can be applied to the rest of the game, and it actually gets worse from there. I would like to know why in the next stage, the game instructs me, as Jaws, to collect keycards. Yes, keycards. I am now an aquatic Solid Snake.

Actually, this is how it's set up: You're supposed to catch a scientist in your mouth, who may or may not have the keycard you need. With your unwieldy controls, and a camera that loves to change your direction without you asking it to, you're supposed to hold the scientist in your mouth, as opposed to digesting him completely. As Jaws' teeth are controlled by the ultra-sensitive right trigger, good luck with that stipulation. These scientists always stay on the ground, and run around to boot. If Jaws somehow manages to button-mash his way onto the ground, he dies in 10 seconds. If you do manage to grab the scientist, you're then supposed to drag them to a locked door, where you're to believe that they'll be forced to unlock it for you. If you manage to somehow accomplish this, then after a bit more questing, you get to fight a giant whale, which is nowhere near as fun as it sounds. Have fun.

As you can imagine, I didn't get through much of this game. I made it past a few stages before my patience finally gave out. When Jaws becomes a chore to maneuver, and his objectives become anything besides "wreak havoc upon any living things you can find with your massive teeth and body," we have a problem. The forced inclusion of video game elements simply serves to make the game even more laughable.

Well, I'm done complaining for the time being. Jaws Unleashed is a video game that far from lives up to any sort of potential that it might have had. Oddly enough, this is because it's too aware that it's a video game. Instead of playing the role of Jaws, you're playing as Jaws in a generic action-RPG. Combine that with sub-standard gameplay and controls, and a lack of "terror-of-the-deep" moments, and you've got a game that you can freely pass over without any worries.

Score: 5.0/10

More articles about Jaws Unleashed
blog comments powered by Disqus