Shaun White Skateboarding

Review

posted 11/11/2010 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: 360
When setting out to create their own skateboarding game, Ubisoft could have settled for yet another boring Skate or Tony Hawk's Pro Skater rip-off.  But instead of doing that, they went a whole new direction, creating a game that is equal parts Footloose, George Orwell's 1984 and Lords of Dogtown.  Unfortunately the end result isn't nearly as exciting as the bizarre story would lead you to believe, but at least Shaun White Skateboarding doesn't require a gimmicky fake plastic accessory to work.

Apparently Shaun White, the world famous Olympic gold medalist, has been arrested and is being held in a maximum security cell.  To make things worse, a ruling class called the Ministry have taken over and brainwashed an entire world into believing that things like skateboarding and fun are evil.  They've set up transmitters, removed all of the color from the world and plastered propaganda all over the skate-less world.  Who wants to live in such an oppressive world?  The main character certainly doesn't, which is why he (or she) spends the entire game fighting the power, saving Shaun and reminding an entire city what fun is all about.


The story couldn't be sillier.  It's filled with plenty of over-the-top moments that no other skateboarding game would dare to do.  When you're not taking down zeppelins and influencing the brainwashed citizens, you'll spend your time taking out surveillance cameras in hopes of curbing the Ministry's influence.  And that's just the start of the nuttiness.  There are entire chunks of the game where you skate INSIDE your head, and oddly enough that's not the craziest moment you'll encounter while trying to save Shaun White.

What sets Shaun White apart from the competition is how the player goes about transforming the world around them.  The player does more than just add color and shake people out of their daze, they'll also be responsible for creating objects to trick off of and literally reconstructing the world around them.  You change the environment by performing enough tricks to build up a little flow gauge.  Once you've maxed it out, you can trick off of a specially marked location and the game will rebuild a building, blow out a wall and much, much more.


While the environmental changes can be a little jarring at first, it's really nothing more than a way to show your progress.  Usually when you remodel the world it opens up a new place for you to visit or something else you can do, so in that sense it's no different from either Skate or the Tony Hawk series.  At the same time, you'll be too busy questioning the inexplicable air skating and custom rail creator.

That's right, I said air skating.  As you progress through the game you are given what can only be explained as magic powers.  These powers allow you to extend a railing your grinding on to allow air skating.  I'm not kidding.  Much of the game involves you steering these railings through the air to reach important locations.  And that's not all you can do.  By the end of the game you will have the ability to raise and lower entire chunks of land just by skating over it.  Plus, players will be able to save themselves from a nasty fall by creating objects to grind on right out of thin air.  These magical powers make absolutely no sense at all, but they bring something new and fun to the skateboarding genre.
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