The Flying Tomato returns with his first skateboarding game that is packed with plenty of inspired ideas but fails to follow through fully on their potential.
- Interesting skating game storyline
- Being able to sculpt your own path is a cool mechanic
- Better controls than the Wii version
- Long load times
- Sometimes, the physics don't work like they are supposed to
- Ability to set repawn beacons is weirdly limited
For all of Shaun White's attempts to be an Olympic-grade bad boy, the redheaded skater has professed time and time again he’s devoted to assuring the videogames bearing his name and likeness not be mere shovelware.
Sure enough, Shaun White Skateboarding, his third game to date and first non-snowboarding title, comes proudly emblazoned with a label that it’s been “developed in close collaboration with [the] renowned skateboarder.”
Life's a Grind
The 360 and other higher-end versions get an appreciably tongue-in-cheek plot about a soul-sucking government entity known as The Ministry, and you’re part of a small band of revolutionaries doing their darndest to turn the world around. Your movement grows stronger by pulling off tricks near the Ministry’s drones, converting them from motionless drones yelling about how you almost ran over their feet to motionless drones who shout praise like, “It’s like you’re recreating my dreams!”
Sometimes your converts will tote skateboards as well, but they do little else but stand around and wait for you to talk to them, in the off chance they have a mission to give you, which is almost never.
Skate or Die
The 360 version isn’t without its faults, though: there’s an inexcusable amount of loading, and the game adheres to its crazy physics and logic except for when it doesn’t.
One of the more impressive additions to this version is the ability to “shape” rails and streets while you’re grinding on them, essentially being able to sculpt the path you’re riding while you’re on it. This illusion of freedom is really meant to end at your next objective, but this coy ability sometimes leaves you in the dark about where to go. Even worse, in one direction you’re allowed to skate right through them (this is good), but in the other, you’ll crash right into them (this is bad).
Although the world itself doesn’t feel completely alive, the inclusion of countless citizens certainly helps. Although transforming the world by slamming your board down quickly becomes familiar, it does reinforce the feeling that you’re changing the world around you.
It’s not quite Fable or Infamous on a skateboard, but that Shaun White Skateboarding even cheesily attempts this is a nice idea. The aforementioned ability to mold certain obstacles while you’re on them would have gone great if the game had borrowed just as shamelessly from the Prince Of Persia series and being able to rewind just before you made your last mistake would be a big time saver. You’re given the ability to set respawn beacons, which is a close substitute, but it’s weirdly finicky about where you can or can’t do this.
There’s a good game with some great ideas lurking inside of Shaun White Skateboarding. The non-Wii versions come a lot closer to realizing this vision than what Nintendo devotees will get, which is a shame, because in making the game more suitable for younger gamers with simplified controls and an even more simplified story, the result is a game that’s of little use to anyone. You have to dig too deep for the fun to be had that can be had from Shaun White Skateboarding, but who should be subjected to such teasing punishment?