By Sean Booker
November 27, 2008 - 14:00
The biggest issue I had with this game was the controls and the difficulty that came along with them. The controls are just awful to work with and they make the game very hard to enjoy. Controlling the camera only works if you aren’t moving. You can’t look around you while you’re going down the mountain unless you come to a complete stop. You'll also need to use the right trigger for most of your stunts, as it is the jump button – but it’s also the brake button. This causes you to have to move towards a jump and when you are on the jump, you have to start braking so your character can get more height. All this does is slow you down, meaning you can’t do as many tricks because you don’t have as much air time as you would have if you didn’t have to brake. Another weird thing is that, while on the ground, the right analog stick turns your board. If you don’t have any speed, or aren’t landing from a jump, this does nothing but help you slow down (now giving us three ways to slow down and stop). These controls just made me dislike playing and ending up getting frustrated to the point that coming back to the game was a challenge.
The next thing I didn’t like was how they made you do tricks. While you are doing a flip or a spin, you have a little meter come up below you to show your chance of landing it. You want to aim for the green middle area of it so that you have the best chance possible of landing the trick. When you are grinding on something, you can control where the arrow is on the meter so you can stay in the green pretty easily. When you are doing an aerial trick, you can’t control it at all. This means you need to judge your landing based on your body’s position, which can get pretty hard, as you may not be able to tell the best angle to land compared to the slope below you. This just makes the tricks unbelievably difficult to pull off if you’re just starting out, which ups the learning curve quite a bit.
The gameplay in Shaun White Snowboarding is a double sided sword. It does a good job of letting you feel like you have an open environment. You can just mess around with tricks while going down the hill if you don’t feel like doing anything significant, or you can move to these floating objects that let you get into a competition. The competitions can range from things like “most points received from only grinds” to “highest multiplier achieved”.
When it comes to the story line, it’s just dumb and pointless. You’re some new hotshot kid who met up with Shaun White and his friends one day after wiping out on a jump. Shaun figures you have what it takes to make it big and that there’s something special about you. This all ends up with you becoming Shaun White’s errand boy by collecting giant floating coins for him. After you collect a complete set, he gives you a Focus Power. For example, the first one you receive is the ability to break through broken fences of some ice walls. After you get these new powers you now have to go collect more coins for Shaun. Your search for this next set will test your ability to use the newly acquired Focus Power. After mastering the power and collecting all the coins, you move on... to receive another Focus Power to use to get Shaun more coins.
The last thing that felt really off about Shaun White Snowboarding was the speed of the game and the collision detections. No matter what kind of gradient you are faced with, you always feel like you are going really slow. If you ever do find yourself going fast, enjoy it, it won’t last long because you slow down really quickly. But there are a few times that you will find yourself really flying, which is a great feeling. Of course, you are bound to hit a tree or some sort of obstacle sooner or later, but in this game, when you run into an object at high speeds, or slam into a grind rail, nothing really happens to you. You will just bounce off the object with a slight deduction to any speed you still had.
The graphics in Shaun White Snowboarding aren’t bad. They do a decent job of recreating a mountain-scape, atmosphere included. I generally found the area I was boarding down rather nice to look at, but I was confused by the character models. I was quite torn about how I felt about them. Normally they looked okay, but that was because I was always looking at my guy from the back. Actually, the only aesthetic I didn’t like in this game was the character faces. I think Shaun White’s character in the game was incredible ugly and almost looked like something out of a last-gen game, at least when it came to his face.
My favourite part about the game was the music line up. It did a good job of incorporating old pop/classic rock with some new age hits. Though, there’s no way of choosing which songs you want to listen to out of the selection you have. You can’t make a playlist of your favourites. However, you can use the music you already have on your Xbox 360 or compatible music device (also works with Playstation 3 version) and play that through the Dashboard (or Guide) and it will integrate the music into the game. Your music will then sound like it was from the original track list as all the normal snowboarding sounds you make (eg. grunts or grinding noises) will be heard normally above it. The one downside to this is that you can't go through your music using the game's quick menu D-pad set up like you can with the game's original song selection. You must go into the Xbox 360's Guide and select the specific song/playlist you want.
Overall Shaun White Snowboarding was a huge let down and almost tedious to play. The poor quality controls are terrible when you first get into the game and only become tolerable after you pass through its long learning curve. If you do happen to get used to the game and find you can pull off tricks with ease, you will most likely get bored of the story line you are faced with. Shaun White Snowboarding does a terrible job of making you want to come back for more and should just be left alone.
Verdict: Forget It
Rating: 4 /10