Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer (Xbox)

Review

posted 11/23/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
Wow, that’s all I have to say about Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer. I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams that a surfing simulation (albeit a rather loose one) could be so much fun.

The premise of the game is simple, pick a surfer, pick a beach and carve up the waves until your heart is content. The main selling point of the game is that you’ll never ride the same two wave twice and from what I’ve seen, this is a pretty accurate statement. Each wave breaks and behaves differently from the previous one and although you might not realize it from the start, but it goes a long way in extending the replay value of the game.

You’ll get to strut your stuff on various beaches from around the world including the famed Pipeline. As you progress through the game you’ll unlock more beaches that feature larger waves that provide more scoring opportunities. Of course each of the beaches look relatively similar to each other with the only exception coming in the background and the color of the water. There are 15 total beaches that feature varied and unique goals.

You’ll be given a small handful of surfers to choose from; surfer babes, surfing champions and of course, the Mac User himself, Kelly Slater. Each of them handles pretty similarly to each other so you’re basically just presented with a bunch of texture swapped surfers. They each have unique boards although you’ll hardly be able to check out the designs for obvious reasons. New boards are unlocked via the unlocking of goals and new beaches. Like the other “Pro” titles, the boards will warrant attribute upgrades that will help improve

Though the waves crash and behave in a fairly realistic manner but that’s where the realism ends. You’ll be able to jump off the crests of waves and perform outlandish grabs and flips with your board. Basically the game feels like Tony Hawk on waves because essentially, it is. The controls remain relatively unchanged, square for flip moves, circle for grabbing maneuvers, x jumps and the triangle even grinds on the crests of the waves. Double tapping a button will allow you to carve along the face of the wave while holding down on the d-pad will allow you to travel into the tunnel of the wave. While you’re in the tunnel you can perform various maneuvers like touching the roof of the wave with your hands or lying down on the board.

As you do more and more tricks your special meter will gradually begin to build up. When it fills and turns yellow you’ll be able to perform more advanced maneuvers like the Superman or the Darkslide. Unlike the other “Pro” games however, Slater adds a twist to the meter, while it’s flashing yellow you can perform tricks and the meter will act like a multiplier. Look at the special meter as the ‘revert’ function of Slater. If you’re good enough you can keep a line of tricks going for the entire duration of a run. There’s a catch though, if you wipeout at any time you’ll lose all of the points that you had just built up so there is a little bit of strategy involved in trying to decide when to go for another trick and when to just quit and run.

The gameplay takes quite a bit of getting used to but thankfully; Treyarch included a very helpful tutorial mode to cater to people who are too lazy to read the manual. It’ll teach you basic, intermediate and advanced maneuvers that are key to being successful in the game. The tutorial is narrated by Kelly Slater himself and will teach you the basic fundamentals of the game. It’s some of the best that I’ve seen in the genre and Slater himself is actually pretty helpful. Maybe he should start doing training videos for beginners, I bet he can give Tom Emanski a run for his money.
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