Jet X2O is another in a long string of extreme sports racing titles for the PlayStation 2. Made popular by the original SSX, such extreme racing games emphasize speed, tricks, and attitude, and you'll find all three in Jet X2O. The game is solid and doesn't fall short in any particular category, but it doesn't really make any improvements to the standard extreme racing formula, either. It's a good middle-of-the-road trick-based racer that should please fans of the genre, and it's an accessible entry point for newcomers as well.
We've seen extreme racing games based on nearly every mode of personal transportation, including snowboards, skateboards, BMX bikes, and just about anything else that you can do a trick with. Jet X2O opts to go the Jet Ski route, which of course has been done before in Nintendo's popular Wave Race series. That game focused much more on racing, however, whereas Jet X2O is just as interested in your trick score as your standing at the end of a race.
Jet X2O boasts seriously impressive visuals for a PS2 game.
The basic gameplay in Jet X2O is quite simple. You race against several other riders down a river course that's littered with obstacles, ramps, and colored gates that provide you with boost fuel. Boost is useful for speeding ahead of your opponents and for flying higher when you jump off the ramps. Catching air is essential to performing tricks, which in turn is as important as your placement in the race when your final score is determined. The four shoulder buttons all perform a different midair trick, and these tricks can be used together in combos. In addition, holding the square button makes each shoulder button trigger a different trick, so there are a lot of options for racking up multiple tricks and scoring points by stringing combos together. At the end of the race, your standing and your trick score are combined to give you an overall score that determines your ability to advance.
Steering the watercraft in Jet X2O can be a bit of a chore at first, as the control can initially be too stiff at times and too loose at others. Once you get the hang of the controls, however, you'll have a solid feel for the way the craft interact with the water, and you'll be able to make difficult jumps and sharp turns with ease. The learning curve for playing the game is somewhat high, but once you master it, the gameplay feels like second nature.