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Flow in the Snow- Shaun White Snowboarding Reviewed


                                                                          I can see Miami from up here.

Past attempts to recreate the sport of snowboarding on our game consoles have delivered two divergent game paradigms. On one hand, there is the SSX model, with hundred-foot jumps, arcade mechanics, and forgiving gameplay. In stark contrast stands the Amped series, with its strict adherence to real-world physics and recreation of real-world tricks. Few snowboarding titles have attempted to straddle the realms of both arcade-action and simulation.

Shaun White Snowboarding for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 spends its first few hours of gameplay adhering to the rigid rules of simulation; the player is incapable of performing stunts unrealistic for a professional snowboarder. Within a few hours, power-ups are collected and the title radically changes its focus to become a high-flying, exaggerated game, which throws reality out the window. While some players may appreciate the novelty of Shaun White’s transitional gameplay, others might be perplexed at the shift in design. Fortunately, the controls remain consistent, if eccentrically conceived.

To initiate a jump, the player holds down and then releases the right trigger, at the apex of a hill or ramp. At first, this felt unintuitive, after many years of Tony-Hawk style jumps instigated with a face button. To perform a twist, the player moves the left thumbstick to preload the turn, continuing to hold the stick to rotate the player’s body. The right thumbstick is used for grabs, and once airborne, the right trigger can be utilized to ‘tweak’ a move. As the player progresses, they are awarded ‘focus’ powers which act as slow-motion triggers within the game.


                                                         A scene from the director’s cut of The Sweet Hereafter.

 
Our first few hours with SWS were incredibly laid-back; we merely practiced the controls as we sped down the mountains. Gradually, the game introduced more traditional gameplay mechanics, including coin collection, races, and stunt challenges. Challenges have hierarchical levels of difficulty from painless to moderately difficult. In keeping with the tranquil vibe of the game, trials can easily be won, but maximizing money and medal achievement take a bit of practice. The game’s four mountains were each spacious and unique with plenty of opportunities for both jibbing and air. Gamers who purchase the game at Target receive an exclusive fifth mountain, although the MSRP is five dollars more at that retailer.

Graphically, the game looks amazing, with beautifully textured snow, detailed pine trees, and elaborate lift systems. At times, the title displays beautiful vistas, with nary a sign of pop-in.  However, the game’s camera and shadowing system can be spastic at times, detracting from the virtual beauty of the game. This is particularly noticeable when in half-pipes, or in the enclosed sections of the game’s bobsled run. Other than an occasion sputter, the framerate is usually smooth with short loading times when players warp to a point on the mountain.

With a quick transition from solo challenges to multiplayer events, Shaun White feels like Burnout Paradise set on powdery slopes. Players can race, and initiate a stunt challenge using a minimum of effort. While in a time trial with fifteen other racers, the framerate was solid, although player’s avatars occasional warped around the screen. Still, SWS’s multiplayer diversions made the game come alive, as we spent hours trying to perform tricks more outlandish than our rivals. Additionally, players also have the ability to record their trick runs and upload them to the Shaun White website for all to see.


                   Sure, it’s called snowboarding. Strangely, it’s the most fun when you’re not touching the snow.

Although past console generations had an ample amount of choices in the snowboarding genre, the virtual ski resorts have seen a sharp drop-off in patronage. Players longing for a winter excursion on the electronic slopes should be content with Shaun White Snowboarding. Its relaxed, open gameplay was invigorating, and became exponentially more fun with a group of friends. With a bit more graphical polish and a move toward a single play style, Shaun White could return as the king of the mountain next year.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

53 comments

  1. It’s been out for a while and you’re just doing a review now?

  2. I felt like I was the only person to like Amped 3. I was thinking about picking this up.

  3. I rented and completely agree with the spastic comment. It feels like the character is always jumping around at times. It doesn’t quite feel finished.

  4. I liked it too.

  5. Hopefully Ubi will patch it and fix it up a bit.

  6. Nice review, I guess I should buy this at the old red bullseye then, huh?

  7. Yeah, the graphics look sick.

  8. I have never enjoyed any snowboarding games. Last one I played was one for the Xbox. It was based on a magazine or something.

  9. I heard one of the guys from 1up say the controls were horrible. Were they really that bad?

  10. Does anyone know how the game is selling?

  11. IS Shaun White in the game as a character or does he just narrate?

  12. My friend said the character seemed kinda cracked-out. Now I know what he means.

  13. I heard this wasn’t very good at all. A B-?!?!

  14. I heard so-so.

  15. I snowboard in real life and I got this game day 1. I like it but it’s probably not my favorite. Amped 2 was the best.

  16. I didn’t get the second caption. Inside joke?

  17. Thanks for the review. Been curious about this one.

  18. I could be in the minority, but I really like the game. It did take a while to grow on me.

    But yeah, a sequel should kick ass.

  19. Is SSX confirmed dead now, I really enjoyed the wii entry and kind of want it to make a comeback.

  20. I heard the Wii version was the better one. Any truth to that?

  21. Gamefly here I come.

  22. I really want to get this for Christmas. I played it for about 20 minutes at a Play n Trade and loved it.

  23. Target’s selling plenty

  24. I wish they would bring back the SSX series. Maybe if they used the Pure engine if would work out.

  25. I played it and I would put in right between the c and B range. Nice graphics, but the controls aren’t the best.

  26. Seeing those pics makes we want to hit the lifts for real. This game may have to be my fix this year. I’ll put a fun up next to the TV LOL!

  27. Is the Target version worth $5 more? I’ll think I’ll wait until Target clears them out.

  28. Does anyplace sell Amped 3 new anymore?

  29. I like the groomed snow texture. Looks like some real boarders worked on the game.

  30. Where the hell did all the snowboard games go? They’re used to be at least 3 choices, now there’s just one. Sad.

  31. With the current weather, I may have to buy this. Ive been spending no time outdoors lately.

  32. Amen, brother!

  33. Is there any difference between the PS3 and 360 versions?

  34. wow, I am surprised to see this game is actually good

    good review!

  35. I asked for this for xmas along with Midnight Club.

  36. I heard another 360 snowboarding game is around the corner. I’ll wait and see on that one.

  37. Man, this game looks like crap. The best snowboarding I ever played was on final fantasy 7.

  38. What about Snowboarding Kids for N64?!?! that was the shizznit.

  39. Snowboarding? Ha!

  40. I really want to check this game out so I might rent it this holiday weekend.

  41. Eh, I’ve never really been into sports games. Might be a rental.

  42. I’d like to at least try this one out.

  43. Looks ok. I really like snowoboarding games and loved Amped. Wish this was as good

  44. Yeah it is really nice, i would love to see it on my hdtv!

  45. i think i would give this game a rental at least

  46. I agree. The snowboarding game from Final Fantasy 7 was freakin awesome. I love that minigame.

  47. Thanks for the review. Haven’t play a snowboarding game in years so this should be great. 🙂

  48. Sigh, I miss Amped.

  49. thanks for review
    mite get

  50. This game seems awesome. I do not have a wii, but I hope my friend will get it. I use to play cool boarders for ps1 and this will be even better I hope.

  51. Looks good. Might give this a a try.