Whether you loved or hated it, there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to this year’s E3 extravaganza. Now come and gone, one game that had a a bit of a weird debut was Wave Break. Shown during Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest, it was gameplay spliced in with a concert performed by Weezer. A band I’d honestly not thought about in what feels like two decades. It was hard to parse what exactly Wave Break was, but now having played it I can confirm it’s Tony Hawk Pro Skater on a boat!
Like seriously, it’s quite shameless in an incredible way how much this is just Tony Hawk. At the start you’re given a short tutorial which teaches you all the different types of grinds, flips and tricks you can pull off. And getting used to the feel of piloting your boat as it can take a while to get used to the somewhat loose and floaty controls. From there it’s onto the first level and a quite overwhelmingly long list of challenges to complete. Collecting letters and items doing specific tricks and getting high scores are the types of thing you can expect to do here and while your first few runs are eventful and you feel like you’re making progress, it soon grinds to a bit of a halt.
I know I’m mentioning Tony Hawk a lot, but it’s really the best comparison here, so deal with it I guess. In Tony Hawk it always felt like you were unlocking new levels and upgrading your skater. It had a good flow to the progression, with new levels unlocking at a good pace. It soon becomes apparent that Wave Break doesn’t have that. It takes an awful lot of completed objectives to unlock the next level, and the first level itself can become a bit of a nightmare. With lots of obstacles to jump and grind off of, and balconies going across the celing of a dock/warehouse type area. It can be far too confusing a level for the games introduction. Not helped by a few graphical glitches and the camera getting caught behind obstacles frequently. Not ideal when you only have a few minutes to collect six pervy magazines or need to make that jump perfectly to reach the final letter. You do earn cash, even when you fail to do anything meaningul during a run. This can be then used to buy new items for your bear character or boat. Or you can spend it in the gym to upgrade your skills, which is the cleverer option.
It does look like the developers want to hopefully support this game in the long term as they do advertise special events. The one that was ongoing at the time of writing was “Weezy Mode”. This is where you can find the Weezer content. A level that has something of a “fan made” feel to it, with very little in the way of any background detail is then playable with objectives that once completed unlock special “gifts”. Also, that Weezer song is always playing. It’s fine. But this is where the framerate seems to be taking a bit of a battering. Which is strange seeing as it’s not exactly a technical masterpiece. The whole look of the game has a certain style to it. Very 80’s inspired, something that also bleeds over into the pretty excellent soundtrack, with the game characters looking like they stepped off the set of Miami Vice.
Wave Break is an interesting attempt at mining that Tony Hawk-like gameplay into something a little different, it just falls a little short. With only five levels to play and unlock, it is understandable that it would take a while for you to unlock them, it does feel at times though like you’re making too little progress. And with that it won’t take long before you potentially give up and move onto something else, like the Tony Hawk 1 + 2 collection which is now coming to Switch!