GC 2008: Shaun White Snowboarding Preview
Written Sunday, September 21, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Welcome to the “snowboard experience” which Shaun White’s Snowboarding’s animation director, Scott Mitchell likes to call it. It’s a title that not only has had tonnes of input from Shaun White himself but from his pro-snowboarding brother, Jessie White too. And the best thing is? We don’t have to waggle our ass round on some plastic phonebook in our living room to enjoy it either. We can pick up a controller and enjoy it like gaming should be done ... on our asses, sat back in our comfy seats!
Shaun White’s Snowboarding takes advantage of the Assassin’s Creed engine in more than one respect and instead of walking around in the mist during loading screens, you are thrown in to a half pipe to keep you amused. The game is essentially a snowboarding sandbox title and from the beginning, all four available mountains are open to you (Alaska, Park City, Japan and Europe). Each of these mountains has three areas which differ in nature. If you’re boarding at the top, or the “peak” as they call it, be careful as there will be plenty of crevices, avalanches and steep runs. Moving down slightly, you’ll have the “back country” which will be less dangerous and you’ll find plenty of trees and powder snow. And down a hell of a lot more, you’ll have the “resort” and this is every snowboarding junkie’s heaven with jumps and parks galore.
Customisation seemed to be a big trend at this year’s Games Convention with Shaun White’s title being no different. The customisation system allowed you to pretty much change everything on your boarder, ranging from your face, hats, gloves and right the way down to your clothes, binding, boots and boards. Everything! And the game even features a load of genuine sponsored equipment too with Oakley, Burton and Spy all getting in on the act. Hell, you can even customise your music so you have the perfect soundtrack.
A great addition to the Shaun White title that is not present in most snowboarding titles to date is most definitely the ability to step out the board’s bindings and walk wherever they want. I can hear people questioning my judgement now, saying “why the hell do you want to walk in a boarding game!!??”... Seriously, have you ever tried to walk ten foot up a mountain on a board just to get to a marker or mission? It’s simply annoying, and so the age old problem of boarding slightly past your marker and having to go to the top to get back to it in snowboarding games has been eradicated.
The game offers several different viewpoints even offering the player the first person perspective in case they really want to step in to the action, something that Shaun was quite adamant on having in but this was a work in progress. Other views include one far back, a helicopter view and it must be mentioned that these are all dynamic and respond to how you board rather than keep it statically behind you.
When it comes to moving about the mountain, players can choose 1 of 2 main methods; the helicopter drop or my personal favourite, the ski lift which allows you to jump off wherever on the run they wish. Any actual snowboarders out there will realise that this isn’t allowed on genuine ski lifts usually so I’m really keen to do that in-game.
The multiplayer though looks like its shining light and at the moment they have it working on 16 players but are hoping on 32. If you want, you can grab a pack of friends and just board down from the top of the mountain whichever way you want. Want to throw a couple of cheeky snowballs? Fine, do it, but you’ll get a few back. Of course, for the competitive player in all of us, there are plenty of game modes from death races where combat is encouraged, genuine races (snowballs not allowed!) as well as, my personal favourite, the avalanche races where you simply must ride the waves and stop yourself from becoming a victim.
All in all, Shaun White’s Snowboarding does truly look like the “snowboarding experience” and while it may not appeal to most fans of all genres, it most certainly will appeal to snowboarding junkies worldwide and will give you a good fix till you actually go out and get your board wedged in the snow... Or in a big ass fir tree like me.
Shaun White’s Snowboarding will be available towards the end of the year on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.