Of all the games that have passed through our hands here at GamesRadar, few have left us as conflicted as Jaws Unleashed. Released in 2006 to a near-unanimous chorus of jeers and boos, Jaws Unleashed was the first and so far only game to cast players as a giant shark who could freely wander around finding contrived reasons to chew on people. It was objectively awful, with temperamental controls, an uncooperative camera and sudden spikes in difficulty, but it was also a lot of fun, in an ugly, brutal and unapologetically stupid way. And as much as we hated its many flaws, we can’t help but love it.
Above: C’mon, tell us this doesn’t look interesting on some level
It’s also one of the most darkly hilarious games ever made - although we’re still not sure how much of the humor is intentional, given that a lot of it comes from the main character being an omniscient sea-beast that eventually learns how to use explosives and sabotage industrial machinery with its teeth. Are the terrified screams of mangled swimmers actually meant to be over-the-top to the point of camp? Were we supposed to derive endless amusement from tossing boat-rednecks around like chew toys?
Whatever the case, it’s possible to enjoy Jaws Unleashed on the same level as a bad movie, and it may be the only bad game for which this is true. And like any good-bad work of fiction, it has a few shining moments when it veers completely off the rails and turns implausibly, beautifully ridiculous.
Above: Also it’s hard not to laugh at a shark this dopey-looking
1. THE BREAKOUT
When it begins, Jaws Unleashed seems poised to be a fairly realistic shark sim; hell, our first glimpse of Jaws has him doing the most shark-like thing he’ll probably do in the entire game.
Above: Yep, this is pretty much how sharks behave in real life
From there, we’re tasked with exploring a peaceful cove and devouring some of the wildlife there. This being a Jaws game, it isn’t long before we’re introduced to our first humans, some of which have the temerity to insult us with their flimsy-ass shark cages.
Above: Holy shit, dude, you are totally asking for it with that thing
This yields predictable results:
Jaws gets so worked up that he then goes on a tear around Amity Island, eating swimmers, collapsing dockside cafes and ripping up jetties to work through his aggression.
Above: Glowing green halos courtesy of ‘shark vision’
So, getting to the point: Jaws’ behavior just can’t go unpunished, so he’s captured by marine biologist (and hero of the last two Jaws movies) Michael Brody, and deposited in a tank at a Seaworld-like aquarium (clearly inspired by Jaws 3-D).
This is when things start to get weird.
Above: Wait… how are we supposed to…?
Above: Oh… OK…
Given the tools at your disposal, there’s only one possible course of action. And it’s one that no real shark would ever think to take, especially not a stupid asshole shark like Jaws.
Above: Good thing Jaws is a fake stupid asshole shark
After that brief bit of strangeness, Jaws is set free to roam the park, terrorizing tourists and exotic fish alike. And for a while, the game becomes a relatively grounded shark simulator again.
If you’re interested in seeing the rest of the rampage before moving on, it’s detailed in the following video:
2. PULLING THE PLUG ON THE PARTY
Once he’s safely out of captivity, Jaws is hungry for a little revenge (on the human race, naturally). So he waits until nightfall, and then creeps through the gloom to the site of a beach party full of teens.
How did he know it was there? We guess it doesn’t really matter; what does matter is that the partygoers think it’s safe to go for a swim, thanks to an electric fence constructed to keep sharks like Jaws away.
Of course, they didn’t count on the game they inhabit being designed by crazy sadists. That’s why it’s possible for Jaws not only to understand the relationship between the fence and its nearby generators (which are on the outside of the fence for some reason), but also to know how to use that to his advantage.
Above: This isn’t the weirdest part of this stage by a long shot
Once he’s past the barrier, Jaws starts doing what Jaws does best, which is to say he hurts people and ruins things.
Above: Yaaay, ruining things!
Once he’s wreaked enough destruction, we’re suddenly given a glimpse of an oil refinery way up on a hill, which you’re told to destroy somehow.
Around the same time, some rednecks pull up with a flatbed truck that’s conveniently been filled with dangerous-looking barrels, which they start tossing into the water.
These then explode shortly after they start to sink.
Above: Oh dear
So there’s the situation. Now, if you’re Jaws, what do you do?
If you said “grab one of the lethal, exploding barrels that have set the water on fire in my mouth and then spit it at the waste pipe running down from the refinery,” then congratulations! You are probably one of the designers of Jaws Unleashed. You are also a danger to yourself and others and should be locked up.
Above: We probably would have figured this out a lot sooner if the game had ever hinted it was even possible
Above: This is the sort of thing a shark would do, sure