These waters are anything but choppy.
If you're like me (and God help you if you are), then you no doubt have a soft spot for Nintendo's Wave Race series, specifically the Nintendo 64 and GameCube versions, with a greater focus on the former. Since Nintendo continues to keep the franchise on hiatus, gamers like myself have yearned for some kind of experience that mirrors and feels like Wave Race. Perhaps it's a bit cliche to compare every jet ski racer to Wave Race, but the game for me is the gold standard when it comes to water racing games with superb wave physics.
The Aqua Moto Racing franchise has seen releases on iOS and Nintendo 3DS with varying degrees of success. Now, Zordix brings us the latest entry in the franchise, this time on PlayStation 4, PC, and sooner or later (unless the version gets cancelled) the Wii U. It's Aqua Moto Racing Utopia, and while the entry price ($29,99 USD) might seem high, trust me when I say that for the most part, it's worth it.
Aqua Moto Racing Utopia features a wide variety of modes to dive right into. First, however, you create your rider through a series of somewhat limited choices. I didn't particularly find the faces too attractive, so I just put a helmet over my rider. Then again, it's not like you're staring at your rider's face ever while racing anyway! After picking a nationality, a name, a face, an outfit, and a color scheme, you're good to go in your Aqua Moto Racing Utopia career.
The main mode is the Championship, which comes in three varieties: one with heavy crafts, one with lighter and more mobile jet skis, and a trick-based championship. Each championship type has multiple cups to take on, each unlocking once the one before it has been completed. These race-centric championships generally have 3-5 races each. A great thing about the championships is that you just need to get place third overall to unlock the next championship. A further bonus is that you can restart a race without having to restart the cup. This means that messing up at a critical moment in a race won't cost you the entire cup. And you WILL mess up occasionally, either through human error or the AI pushing you off course.
|Championship Mode pits you against seven other racers across multiple difficulties and multiple cups.|
|Nothing like racing through alligator-infested waters to really prove your mettle as a daredevil.|
|Look, Ma! No hands!|
|Some races feature tighter corridors than others, such as racing through these narrow canals.|
Outside of the Championship modes, there are Time Trials for every race in the game, which challenge you to really get a grip on each course, knowing the ins and outs, when to boost, when to take it easy, and when and where to find time-saving shortcuts. Some of the gold medal times are seriously difficult, and it's quite the accomplishment to earn a gold medal on all of the races. In addition to Time Trials, there are Freestyle events for each venue which task you with performing different tricks for points to try to earn a bronze, silver, or gold medal depending on your ending score. Finally, four-player splitscreen is included as well as online multiplayer. However, the latter, at least on the PlayStation 4, is a ghost town.
The wave physics of Aqua Moto Racing Utopia work wonderfully well. Seldom does your craft ever unexpectedly take a wave in an odd way or angle. Some environmental obstacles can cause your craft to act strangely, but these incidents are so unusual that they aren't really a worry. Though, I will say that those damned alligators have made me crash more times than I would have liked!
|Take turns more sharply and easily by holding the L2 button.|
|All right, Vincenzo Drago. I think you've taken up enough of my screen's real estate. Time to eat my waves.|
[SPC Says: B+]
Review code provided by Zordix.