Shaun White Snowboarding

Written by Joe Martin

November 22, 2008 | 08:20

Tags: #360 #average #console #review #shawn #six #snow #snowboarding #white

Companies: #game #ubisoft

Takin’ A Powder

What’s going to be more of an issue for most players though is the control system which Ubisoft has elected to use – it’s totally new and apparently nonsensical.

It’s strange. Ubisoft has clearly gone with an interface and scoring system which is in-line with player expectations and similar to other sports games – you earn multipliers through running together tricks, you balance your boarder on rails via a simple on-screen meter. This is all very familiar. Why then use a completely new control system?

The way you’d expect it to work would be with steering on the left stick, ollie on the A button, horizontal spins or styles on the triggers and the grabs on either the buttons or the right stick. For the most part that is how it works too – with one important exception. The ollie button isn’t on A, it’s on the right trigger. This shifts spins to the left stick and makes the left trigger into a trick styler.

On the surface that doesn’t seem that bad – but if you can get yourself out of the habit of pressing A to ollie within the first four hours then we’ll be amazed because we’re still messing up.

What’s strange about this though is that there’s no real need to shift the controls in this way, is there? The A button is the universally accepted control for Jump, isn’t it? If this is the development team trying to give the game its own unique feel then it’s an unfortunate blunder. An entirely new control system which had been changed for a reason (See: Skate) is something we could understand and get to grips with, but this is a meaningless and frustrating tweak.

Shaun White Snowboarding Shaun White Snowboarding - 2

The worst part of this controls system though is that the annoyances we have with it permeate through into every single part of Shaun White like honey soaking into an old and well-worn sock. All the parts of Shaun White that we like are at least a little soured by the unintuitive control system.

Take the multiplayer for instance – which is very easy to setup and get onto and which we approve of mightily – here it doesn’t matter how good or inventive the game modes are or how quickly you can invite players into custom matches because the entire game is made difficult by the controls.

Still, there are some things that still go in Shaun White’s favour. The scoring and trick system for example, if looked at merely as a challenge for players are incredibly attractive. Multipliers are gathered comparatively slowly in Shaun White and going for those big scores in Shaun White can be difficult even when you’re just linking together rails and butters.

Shaun White Snowboarding Shaun White Snowboarding - 2

Shaun White Snowboarding Shaun White Snowboarding - 2The game doesn’t just reward button-mashers either and though the landing criteria are fairly lax for the most part so that you don’t need to be perfectly lined up with the ground, you’ll still need to have a decent understanding of timings if you want to get some sick scores.

Unfortunately though, these plus points just aren’t able to raise Shaun White up above the masses and we’re especially dismayed to see that the Assassin’s Creed engine hasn’t been used to full effect. The strength of that particular piece of technology is the ability to have lots of stuff on screen and on a map, but with Shaun White the levels are naturally large and uncluttered so you can start to see that the actual models and textures aren’t all that.

Ubisoft has tried to spice things up a bit in the snowboarding genre by bringing an impressive engine and open-world approach to the table, but unfortunately when it comes to sports games it’s always far, far better to have some exciting linear courses rather than poorly mapped white expanses. In the end it’s this misunderstanding coupled with needlessly complex controls which make Shaun White a bit of a letdown.

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