Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip (Wii) impressions

Decided to not do a review on the game, since I don't have Wii Balance Board, nor did I play more than three to four hours of the game. I rented it from a local movie/game store. It was pretty expensive, so I only got if for a night. This'll be pretty much like a review, except no scores or anything. -Kyle

Also For: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, PSP, Playstation 2
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Date Released: November 16, 2008 (USA)
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)

Shaun White Snowboarding has come to a plethora of systems (pretty much every one on the market right now). But on the Wii, we're getting something a bit different from 360 and PS3. With the subtitle "Road Trip" comes a whole new graphical style and in game structure. Is it the better game? I can't tell you that, since I haven't played the other versions. But is it good? I can tell you that in my impressions below.

The storyline of the game is nicely voice acted and includes some pretty good cutscenes. You and your crew are following Shaun White around the world to different mountains to snowboard the heck out of them. At the beginning you only have access to two characters. But after each mountain you'll gain another. You don't meet up with Shaun until completing the last mountain, but with him and his superior skills you can take down any other rock you left unturned.

The basic flow of the game is in mission-like levels. Each level has a primary and secondary objective. The primary ones are required completed to advances, as they earn you event tickets. While the secondary ones are harder and earn you other extras. There are four general types of goals: Score x number of points, make it down the mountain in x number of minutes, a combination of the previous two, or collect x number of crowns/pieces of trash. The collecting ones are rather tedious, as you'd rather be just snowboarding. Besides that and the annoying half-pipe levels, the objectives are generally a lot of fun.

At the start of the game you only have access to one mountain in Alaska, but you'll unlock others such as Europe, Park City, and Japan. On each mountain are half a dozen or so objectives. You go through them in a pretty linear progression. At the start of each location, only one mission is open. Beat that and you'll get an event ticket. Each mission is unlocked with a certain amount of tickets and the final run of the mountain, where you gain another member to your expanding crew, is unlocked when you have accumulated five tickets.

Since I don't own Wii Fit, I didn't get to try out the Balance Board controls, which critics say is essential for the game. Nonetheless, I found the remote-only controls to work very well. You control the basic movements of your selected snowboarder by tilting the Wii remote. A is to crouch, in which you gain speed, but lack precise turning. The B button is to slow down and carve, especially useful in the collecting levels. Flicking the controller up causes your character to jump. When in the air (from jumps or drops) gesturing with the remote in different directions does the tricks. To make more variety in your tricks, pressing either A, B, or the two combined allows you to pull off different tricks. I found the controls to work surprisingly well.

The multiplayer included is pretty nice. You have co-op and competitive. To unlock courses though, you'll have to play through co-op. It's split-screen only, so the lack of only co-op is disappointing. But who was expecting that? It's a Wii game... sigh.

The game does go pretty easy on you. You'll be surprised at just how magnetized your board is to rails. On which it's pretty rare to fall off. And sure, you have to time your tricks to not mess them up, but it's not as difficult as some other snowboarding games such as SSX. Overall, it's a pretty dang easy game , albeit an entertaining one.

Ubisoft decided to ditch the realistic graphics of it's hi-def brethren and go with a cartoony, colorful art style. And their choice was for the better. Wii games that have tried to be realistic have failed in this day and age, so style trumps realism (as is evident with No More Heroes, Wario Land, and Mega Man 9). The style is really nice and the cutscenes that come with it are equally pleasing. The music's average, with some nice upbeat tunes here and there. Plus, there's some nice voice work in Road Trip. What I really found nice was the change from the norm. Instead of you just choosing a snowboarder and shredding it up, you choose a snowboarder and a camera man/woman. What results from this is some nice graphical touches such as the PAUSE and REC words at the beginning of each run and break-ups in the camera feeds after big jumps.

I rented the game for only a day from a local movie store and am glad of it. The game's short, and I ripped through the main game in three to four hours. There may have been a bit more for me to complete, with all the secondary objectives and runs I missed, though all in all it's a short-lived experience. Though the multiplayer is a fun distraction too.

Overall Thoughts

I found the overall game to be fun and the style enjoyable. Though it may have been a bit short and went pretty easy on you, I'd still recommend at least a rent to anyone reading, especially if you have a Balance Board, since I heard that's supposed to be even better.

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

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