Shaun White Snowboarding couldn't be more serious if it strutted around the slopes in a grey suit with a calculator in its hand. It's got no truck with mega-triple back flips, fireworks and girls in bikinis. It's about the weighty issues of powder, velocity and branded trousers.
This game takes snowboarding and the lifestyle of the hobby far more seriously than the usual 'extreme, high-octane, rad-dude' snowboarding efforts. The emphasis here is on believability, and extensive online integration.
The sensibly laid-out courses are sprawled out over four huge open-world mountains. Events are scattered around the peak and, after being air-lifted to the top of the course, you're free to roam wherever you like, either straight to the nearest event or just to board around exploring the slopes.
The twist here is that, from the moment you load up the game, your peak exists online and, as you play, you will see other real players boarding about, doing their own thing. Think Test Drive Unlimited but on a giant mountain instead of in a sports car on the road.
Just like in Test Drive, you can ignore them and do your own thing, or engage them in races, stunt challenges or any of the game's events, which range from air challenges to half-pipe runs to rail-grinding.
While this all seems to work well, Shaun White's deliberate effort to be realistic is one of its downfalls.
It's just all a bit subdued for our liking. You just want it to kick ass for a moment - have it shout "POWER UP" and give you a boost as flames shoot from your boarder's ass. Never happens. There are no low-flying helicopters, fireworks, or flame rings. But there are hundreds of real-
life licensed hats, boards and accessories you can buy for your virtual man.
And yet, despite this dedication to realism, landing a stunt is too forgiving - ridiculously so at times. Also, pushing up makes you go faster, but also makes you forward flip on jumps, which happens by accident far too often.
Which means that Shaun White is not for SSX fans hungry for more extreme boarding action. If you like your simulations or have a genuine interest in the sport, you'll appreciate its realism. Everyone else, however, will just be itching to pull off a 24-rotation mega backflip.
Solid but a tad flat if you're not a 'board fan
- Dedication to realism
- Online features are cool
- Hundreds of branded accessories
- Not very entertaining
- Some niggling control issues