Review

Shaun White Snowboarding Review (Xbox360)

Ubisoft is out to prove that extreme sports genre is up for the taking with their release of Shaun White Snowboarding. Selecting the “The Flying Tomato” himself as their athlete to create a snowboarding game around, it seemed like a perfect match for Ubisoft and the 2006 Olympic gold medalist, Shaun White. In theory, this could’ve been Ubisoft’s answer to Activision’s Tony Hawk series, but in practice, Shaun White Snowboarding is a disappointing title with too many flaws.

Shaun White Snowboarding starts off with a tutorial that will have you pulling out your hair. As you progress down the gigantic frozen mountain, text will pop to provide advice on how to perform tricks and control your rider. While it would’ve been great if the text was up on the screen for more than three seconds, Ubisoft Montreal doesn’t grant you the chance to fully grasp a hold of the controls. Over the first few hours of the game, you won’t have a full understanding of how to pull off maneuvers and might throw your controller down and quit before you ever leave the first mountain.


Grinding is a lot easier than the half-pipe.
The gigantic mountains are the best attribute of SWS.

Another huge concern is Shaun White Snowboarding’s focus on platforming in a sports game. That’s right, the game asks players to collect coins scattered throughout the mountain. You can avoid collecting the coins if you’d rather focus on snowboarding, but to advance the story, you need to collect these coins to prove yourself to Shaun White. Yes, unfortunately, Shaun White Snowboarding asks gamers to platform more than the recent Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, which is a crying shame.

The challenges that gamers can compete in are another obstacle that gets in the way of having fun with what could’ve been a great snowboarding game. The challenges are placed on the mountain and each has an indicator detailing how difficult the challenge is such as a green circle for easy, blue square for medium, black diamond for hard, and two black diamonds for the hardest. Snowboarding down the mountain, you’ll often fly by the challenges without having the chance to enter into the challenge since the map and radar on the bottom of the screen offer no help. So if you do pass by the challenge, you’ll need to go back up the mountain either by helicopter or the lift to reach the challenge.


Getting off your boards is interesting, but it doesn’t change the gameplay.
Throwing snowballs at your friends before they land a trick is a blast.

The tedious gameplay will not warm up to you over time either. You’ll gain focus abilities that grant you superpowers for a limited time, but this is the gist of differentiating the gameplay. Having abilities to increase your speed, power through objects and get more air in your jump is fine and dandy, but Ubisoft Montreal limits this feature with a small bar that drains quickly when you start to use any focus ability. The only way to use another focus ability is to perform tricks for another 30 or so minutes to fill the bar back up and by the time you do so, the 10 or so seconds is not worth the 30 minute wait.

The multiplayer isn’t going to win any awards or accolades this holiday season. Up to 16 players can ride on a player’s hosted mountain, but don’t expect a whole lot of fun watching your friends snowboard while you throw snowballs at them since the entertainment value dies rather quickly. There are challenges to compete in, but you’ll be forced to watch your friends compete while you wait your turn at the challenge. On top of all that, there’s an online leaderboard to keep track of your friends but the biggest problem is that you probably won’t have a lot of friends picking up Shaun White Snowboarding if they try it out before purchasing it.


Player models have a lot of customization options for the clothing.
The mountain is yours for the taking.

Graphically, Shaun White Snowboarding is a mixed bag with great looking mountains and ugly character animations. The worst aspect is the lack of crashes that usually befall riders when they ride down the mountain. When a rider does in fact ‘crash’ they’ll hit the ground for two seconds and spring back up on the track down the mountain. Ubisoft Montreal should put more time into developing worthwhile crashes since that would be a lot more interesting than collecting coins.


At the age of 22, Shaun White has a long time ahead of him to increase his infamy and notoriety so there’s bound to be time for his first video game franchise to grow into something beautiful. It’s yet to be known if Ubisoft is going to continue to pursue this series in the future or any other titles in the sports market, but we can only hope that they don’t give up after this lackluster snowboarding game.

Top Game Moment:
The first time you ride down the mountain, you’ll be impressed by how gorgeous the environments are.

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Comments

By Praetorian (SI Core) on Jan 12, 2009
Praetorian
This game is awsome!