Fans of skateboarding games released within the last two years haven’t had a lot which would really scratch their itch. Sure, EA’s Skate series has added a lot to the genre, but the crazy over-the-top action from earlier skateboarding games – with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater instantly coming to mind – has yet to be recreated in a current-generation video game. This is where Ubisoft hopes to add some much needed innovation to the genre with Shaun White Skateboarding.
One of the elements distinguishing Shaun White Skateboarding from other skateboarding titles is how the game successfully blends skateboarding and carrying out tricks. You’re essentially transforming the game’s surrounding environment from dull and inert place into a colorful, striking world. It’s indeed fascinating even to veterans of skateboarding games as to what Ubisoft manages to deliver in terms of creativity.
The game’s story revolves around an organization named the Ministry; an authority who have their eyes firmly set on taking over the world by taking away color and life from the game’s environments. Shaun embarks on a skateboarding adventure to fight the Ministry and bring back the life and color of the world.
In the beginning of the game, players will notice the game’s environments primarily start out gray and dreary. To restore life and color back into the city, players will find themselves executing tricks in the specific places across the environment. By skating and completing challenges throughout the game the city gradually comes back to life with new areas being revealed in the process. As you skate your way through areas you’ll notice more and more things come to life, such as trees popping up with color, shops being revived, and the people being influenced.
One of the most unique aspects of gameplay is the player’s main resource: flow. The flow situated at the bottom of the screen is the combination of the score racked up from tricks and skating. However, flow isn’t built up by just successfully executing tricks and skating well – it’s productively built upon the player’s creativity during gameplay: such as looking for lines and creating them. By doing this and skating for a while, your flow meter will eventually grow bigger and bigger, which as a result, leads to the transformations getting larger, too.
Another key feature in Shaun White Skateboarding is ‘shaping’. The environment is ever-changing and the player will play a key role in adjusting and adapting to the changing on countless occasions. This is where shaping comes into fruition. Shaping is the ability to change an object and control and shape it to create new skating opportunities. For example, you can take an original rail and re-shape it to create a new skate line which can take you to new locations within the area. Even after shaping these objects you can get back on it and shape it again – something which adds to the replayability and enjoyment factor of the title. The shaping feature is really great once you start to realize and try out what it can do, because you may see a ledge you can’t reach but then with the shaping feature the player can work their way up and beyond. Shaun White Skateboarding‘s shaping feature positively adds a unique exploration to the overall experience.
The game’s trick control is executed exclusively on the right analog stick. And that’s pretty much it for performing tricks; Shaun White Skateboarding sees players flick the analog stick down, left, right or up. Due to this there is less prominence on precision control to land a trick. For newcomers, the overall control scheme will be easy to handle and master quickly. There’s also a reset button which can be used if you want to get an area, which you’ve shaped up to your liking, back to its original condition.
Shaun White Skateboarding’s multiplayer component features four modes. First is Ministry vs. Rising. A mode which offers team-based battle between skaters who are restoring life to the city while the Ministry are to foil their efforts. Both teams will find themselves persistently fighting over points within the game’s area to restore life and color while the Ministry will be trying to turn everything dull and lifeless. Another multiplayer mode is Go With the Flow. The mode can be played either free-for-all or with teams and requires players to perform tricks to build their flow meter up and rack up the biggest score. Third is the self-explanatory Free Skate. You have up to eight players and just skate around with each other. Finally, there’s Shaping Battle. This mode requires players to shape the most obstacles within the environment. However, the downside to the mode is that it was frustrating to get the points needed to progress within the mode, only to have the flow points taken away once another player reached the required level.
There’s a lot of creativity and entertainment to be had by the player in the game; with over 80 real world tricks, an open world skating environment, fun multiplayer modes and some unique game elements. For gamers who don’t enjoy the realism from EA’s Skate, Shaun White Skateboarding delivers an enjoyable break from reality. However, hardcore fans of the genre may not find their fix here. Still, Shaun White Skateboarding adds its own unique twist as well as much needed innovation to the skateboarding genre.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Great gameplay elements such as shaping.
+ Healthy amount of multiplayer modes.
– Might not appeal to hardcore fans of the genre.