Real Talk By: The AX
Hide your kids, hide your wife, because he’s eating everybody out here! It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years since the classic (and my personal favorite movie) Jaws was released in theaters. Being the first film to break the coveted $100,000,000 mark at the box office, Jaws helped create the concept of the summer blockbuster as we know it today. To commemorate the birthday of the best movie ever made*, PlayLegit revisits the bloody-good fun that is Jaws: Unleashed.
As is probably obvious by now, this author is particularly fond of sharks. It is in his (professional?) opinion that Shark Week should be a national holiday, and should be mandatory viewing material for all American citizens. Having such a penchant for carnage from an early age, Jaws was the first movie to satiate that hunger and also scare my pants off. To this day, I don’t go further than waist deep into the ocean and I don’t like to close my eyes in swimming pools. The terror that these magnificent creatures strikes in me drives the passion that keeps me endlessly entertained by the likes of Sharknado, 2-Headed Shark Attack, and even the Shark Night remake. Imagine how I felt when I got wind of Jaws Unleashed, the so-called “Grand-Shark Auto.” I get to swim around as the shark and eat whatever I want? Shut up and take my money.
Jaws Unleashed delivers on this promise, and gives so much more. This work of art is the most awesomely terrible game I have ever played. I should emphasize that at no point in this adventure did I have any clue what I was doing, and I was completely okay with that. Who says a 30-foot great white shark needs motives? Only your high-school English teacher would think that. The game takes place some 20-odd years after the movies, and I can only assume this because the human named “Brody” looks nothing like Roy Scheider and has a full on beard. The plot of the game has you, Bruce the Shark, eating and destroying everything for no particular reason while Brody attempts to convince the mayor to close the beaches (sound familiar?) and postpone the 4th of July festivities. Of course, Amity is a summer town and needs summer dollars, so they will have nothing of the sort. The shark is caught and taken in for study at what resembles a Sea World, only to escape after munching on a few dozen patrons and our beloved Shamu.
The story goes from eating Shamu, to blowing up a chemical refinery, to eliminating oil rigs, and even wreaking havoc on an underwater research facility which may or may not be populated by a giant squid. Why did I have to do these things? No idea. The best part about Jaws Unleashed is that it is so wildly preposterous that backstories and intentions are not only completely irrelevant, but also non-existent. While the story is short-lived (with a whopping 11 chapters that take roughly 30-40 mins to complete), there are plenty of side quests to do around Amity Island that will keep you going for hours to come. Some of these side quests include trying to eat rare seals before they escape, eating as many divers as you can before they reach the beach, snacking on Fear Factor bungee-jumpers, crushing as many boats as you can within the time limit, and eating seals in front of wildlife conservationists just to spite them. The dark sense of humor in this game is pure gold, and I found myself laughing more often than I was screaming at the control system.
Gameplay in Jaws Unleashed is by no means revolutionary, but it serves its purpose well. Completing main missions, side missions, eating stuff and finding collectibles earn Ability Points. These points are used to upgrade various facets of the shark’s abilities, such as health, hunger, speed, power, and accuracy. Hunger is a unique aspect of the game because your hunger meter (the green one) drains over time if you haven’t eaten. Eating not only replenishes your hunger gauge, but your health as well. Upgrading your abilities unlocks various special moves, like the corkscrew attack and the powered tail whip. The satisfaction of holding a swimmer in your mouth and then tail-whipping them so hard that they explode is immeasurable. One unique ability that the shark has is basically turning its mouth into a cannon: by holding an object or victim in your jaws, you can launch it forward at the press of a button, almost as if the shark was spitting it. This move is necessary for the story missions, when you must spit torpedoes at oil rigs and shoot gas barrels at a toxic waste refinery. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but makes for some pretty good laughs. Actually controlling the shark can be somewhat cumbersome and lead to getting stuck quite often, but when you realize that the in-game shark movement is based on real shark movement and therefore prevents backwards swimming (in reality this would kill the shark by drowning), it becomes more acceptable and easy to work around.
Graphically, the game is nothing special. In fact, I would argue that the graphics don’t particularly matter because the water is clouded with enough blood to obscure a lot of the scenery at certain times. What really sells the game in the presentation department is the music. Jaws Unleashed has such a rich score from which to pull, and the themes are not only used, but also expanded on appropriately. The score was so masterfully adapted, that the hardest part about playing Jaws Unleashed was to not put the controller down and watch the movie.
Jaws Unleashed is far from a masterpiece. Red Dead Redemption, Metal Gear Solid 3, and Ocarina of Time are examples of how lots of time, money, and hard work can create truly unforgettable experiences. And then there is Jaws, for those with nothing better to do than tear sunbathers in half and dive bomb fishing boats, just because they can and because it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Do yourself a favor, reader. Whip out your PS2, get yourself a cheap copy of this game, and have a blast. Now that summer is here, you have a new calling: to remind everyone that no matter what, it is never safe to go back in the water.
Jaws Unleashed Gets
3.5 out of 5
+Eat Everything. So much blood
+Ridiculous side missions
+Ability to target body parts to purposely only eat people’s heads
+Kill the Mayor by ramming his yacht into a barge filled with fireworks
-Collectables are difficult to find
-Very easy to get stuck and have to restart