Shaun White Skateboarding Hands-On
- Posted Sep 21, 2010
Shaun White is one of the most famous snowboarders in history, dominating in the sport at the last Olympics. But, many people don't know that he's also an extremely accomplished skateboarder as well, having been mentored by Tony Hawk since he was nine years old, and turning pro when he was 17. His Shaun White Snowboarding came out in 2008 to fairly lackluster reviews, but he's now behind Shaun White Skateboarding, which seeks to put skaters on a board in a skating franchise not covered by EA or Activision later this year.
Shaun White Skateboarding should almost be called Shaun White Coloring Book because this is all about bringing life and color to a dead world. It's a requirement of the game that will have you unlocking different challenges and routes, and everything revolves around this all-important game mechanic. You're skating through a brain-dead world, ruled over by the corporate Ministry, who wants to keep creativity and imagination completely under wraps. In fact, if you stop skating long enough or get caught by the Ministry, and you'll turn into a grey-shadowed, suit-wearing lackey, and have to start over
Load screens hammer home the fact that this game is striving to be something different, with messages like "Imagination is Your Enemy," "Verts Are Not Okay," and "Don't Push Yourself: Be Average." Everything is drab and boring, and a shade of grey until you skate through it performing some sort of trick. Harder tricks net more points and unlock different colors, and this was White's idea to show how skaters see the world differently. Where you see a handrail, skaters see an opportunity to grind. That curved section of wall ahead? That's a ramp. That green, translucent ramp? Okay, that's only something a skater can see and activate, but you get the idea.
There's a flow meter at the bottom of the screen that increases as you trick, and it represents what sort of an impact your skating will have on the world around you. There are certain things than go only be activated when your flow meter is topped out, like unlocking a skate shop, for instance. It'll appear as a blocky grey building, but trick near it when the flow meter is brimming, and it will bust forth from the concrete like a zombie from the grave. You'll also hit green objects that only you can see, such as a free-form rail that lets you grind up, down, left or right, which can also allow you to access previously unreachable areas. These free-shaping experiences are the standout feature of the game, and will be necessary for you progress throughout the world.
These green objects can also take the form of ramps or other objects, and let you transform the world to an even greater degree than just adding color. You can create new ramps, or even turn a corridor into a half-pipe. You can also customize your skater by changing their attire, adding hats, giving them a new hair-do (sadly there's no wild mane of hair like White's in the shop), and by unlocking new trucks, boards, and new tricks for your skater. Tricking through the rest of the world unveils different things that can only be unlocked by landing tricks when your flow meter is in the appropriate color.
Tricks are very simple, being activated by the left thumb stick, and a combination of knuckle buttons or triggers-pulls. Flick to olly, vert, and so on, while holding down different buttons to perform advanced grabs or tricks. You can even just hit X to choose a random trick for you. After playing through million-combination games like Skate
, Shaun White Skateboarding
feels a lot simpler, and lets you focus on stringing tricks together, rather than trying to pull off the nigh-impossible. With The game represents a streamlined skating experience that feels like a return to the basics of skateboarding, rather than taking the sport somewhere it's never been in the video game realm.
There's a story mode inside the game as well as just free-skating, and you're skating through a persistent world that you're constantly affecting. In one of the missions we were shown, a Ministry helicopter is trailing you, trying to take you down via laserblasts. You have to skate creatively to avoid getting hit, and eventually you'll perform a mega-move that transforms the chopper into a graffiti-bearing friend as you grind on its skid, turning it into a friendly that will no longer try to chop you in half. The game also has up to eight player online multiplayer, with both adversarial and co-op modes throughout.
Shaun himself has been very involved in the development of this title, and he hand-picked the more than 80 tricks and did motion capture for them, including the Armadillo. He also appears in the game as your mentor, teaching you how to skate near the beginning of the game and he's also an unlockable skater that you can control, complete with his wild head of hair. He's the only professional skater in the game, rather than a smattering of them a la Tony Hawk.
Shaun White Skateboarding is set to be released on Octoebr 24th, 2010 on the Wii, PlayStation 3, and the Xbox 360. I played the game on a Sharp 3D television, which looked fairly impressive, once I got the glasses to turn on. It's definitely not a necessity for gameplay, but it is worth a look.