|System: PS2, DS, X360, PS3, PC, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 16, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Pete Richards
Many times, when extreme sports are translated to video games they become so larger than life you would need to be a superhero to achieve such feats. Gravity is defied. Physics become irrelevant. Life-threatening injuries are brushed off.
Shaun White Snowboarding (SWS) offers a more realistic simulation of the sport, where athletes are limited to pulling off tricks and catching air gravity would actually allow. Controls are easy to grasp, as this game has a party spirit and graphics comparable to what one might expect from a Wii title. Translated to the PS2 and PSP, Shaun White Snowboarding is a nice alternative to other skate and snowboarding titles on the market, combining free roaming elements with platform gaming and extreme sports.
As you begin, you are prompted to create your own character. You will probably want to, as Shaun White Snowboarding disappointingly offers only three playable characters, comparable to the long list offered in the popular SSX series. Character designs and animations are very cartoon-like, and it is obvious this game is intended for the Wii. The PS2 and PSP versions even share a 10+ rating with the Wii, whereas the 360 and PS3 versions have been slapped with a Teen by the ESRB. PS2 owners who enjoy cartoon aesthetics and more family-friendly gameplay may appreciate that Ubisoft hasnt excluded the PS2 on this release as it certainly goes outside the box of what most snowboarding games have to offer.
The biggest strength in Shaun White Snowboarding is the feeling of freedom one gets while playing. The game becomes just as much about exploration as it does about honing your craft on the hills, as each mountain features numerous runs and seemingly endless possibilities from wide-open spots to park areas and narrower, forested paths. As you travel around, you are not limited to any time restraints, and various freestyle competitions and races can be found all over each of the four levels in the game. Shaun White Snowboarding will have you carving three fictitious mountains in Alaska, Japan and the vaguely labeled Europe, and one modeled after Park City in Utah. Each makes for good use of the entire mountain, as you must explore all regions to find the events.
Exploration is made slightly easier by the radar to show where you are with use of the HUD. The radar, however, tends to be frustratingly unhelpful. It is so vague that trying to navigate your way around these vast landscapes will often force you to rely on memory with little help from the HUD for direction. While adding to the spirited sense of freedom you get when snowboarding in real life, the radar becomes almost useless when most needed.
Where the radar becomes most frustrating is in Shauns Quest the staple mode of the game. As your created character befriends Shaun, he will have you roaming the mountaintops to collect coins, achieve different tasks and unlock new abilities and statistics. Performing different tasks to retrieve all coins becomes progressively more difficult on its own, but finding the coins scattered about each map tends to be even more time-consuming.