Surfing H3O Review

By: John Doe

There now, I think all of the Xtreme sports have been covered now, aside from pedalling your BMX off a cliff, opening a parachute filled with deadly scorpions, downing a Mountain Dew and landing in a retention pond filled piranha fish. Actually, now that I mention it, all of that sounds much better in comparison than ever having to play Surfing H3O again. Midnight Club and Smuggler's Run were excellent games and loads of fun. Unfortunately, the third time isn't the charm. Remember when Meatloaf sang "Two out of Three ain't Bad"? That pretty much sums up the Rockstar lineup of PS2 games thus far.


One of the most interesting gimmicks to come along in a while is the mini surfboard you use in conjunction with your PS2 controller when playing Rockstar's Surfing H30. The surfboard attaches to the analogue buttons and you surf with your fingers on top of it. The controller senses where pressure is applied and your fully rendered 3D-surfer dude reacts accordingly. If that sounds exciting then there may be hope because that's about all that this game has going for it.

Do you really think that if you bought this game you would be able to find that damn surfboard ever again? Of course not. You're a gamer; not a responsible, mature human being. If your mom can't find it for you, you're sunk. And trust me, playing the game without it is a bitch. Actually playing the game is a bitch but that's just because it's borderline junk.

Where did it all go wrong? Is it the repetitious gameplay which is nothing but increased level of difficulty? Is it the camera-shy surfer who disappears from view when entering a wave tunnel or tube? Or is it the premise of having to collect buoys for points? Or is that the Japanese game was so quirly and bizarre (titled Surfroid) that it kind of made up for the lack of fun?

Tricks can be executed but for whatever reason that's not the main part of the game. For a premise that is obviously a thinly veiled Tony Hawk rip off, they could have at least attempted to make it fun. Having to collect buoys ruins the game for me. It's like dad lending you the car for a Saturday afternoon and once you have all your friends piled in ready for a good time, mom and dad give you big grocery list; seeing that you're going to the mall anyway. Use the L button when you're in the air to do mutes, 360s and nose grabs. It's not easy and, once again, it's not fun. For extra points you also have to reach a goal line with a prescribed time limit. Wowwee.

Choose from any of eight characters, all of which are fictional. No self-respecting pro would lend their name to this lame fest. Pick a custom surfboard and you're ready to hit the surf. Complete each level and the next one increases in difficulty. The waves get bigger and the buoys get a little harder to pick up and the surfboard is harder to control but other than that, there's not much depth here. You can go from amateur to professional in less time than it would take a real surfer to fill out a job application.

With the majority of the action taking place on the water, one would expect that the graphics should be great - especially on the PS2. Well for the most part the water does look great and the massive waves can be truly awe-inspiring. The whitecaps break into frothy foam that envelops the surfer for a nice touch of realism. If you're a fan of old cartoons and stop frame animation you know just how hard it was for the animators to capture water. Even Disney had a hard time with it. The problem is that it's just so darn fluid. Well ASCII may not have created the consummate version of virtual water but it has come closer than anybody I can recall. Heck, the water even sounds great. The rumblings and roar of the waves actually send shivers down me timbers. Unfortunately that's not enough to save the game. Not even the two-player mode is that exciting but if misery love company...

If you're going to rent this one, make sure the board is included in the case. And if you're going to purchase this game for someone for Christmas, may I suggest waiting for another special occasion to present him or her with it - such as April Fool's Day.






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