Stoked: Big Air Edition


posted 4/14/2010 by Ben Berry
other articles by Ben Berry
One Page Platforms: 360
A little less than a year ago, Cyril reviewed Stoked, a snowboarding game published by Destineer. We’ve been checking out titles from for a few years. This game came as a surprise to a lot of people. Destineer started with a lot of focus on budget titles, cartoon IP and social gaming ports, and DS games. Seeing them produce a top shelf sports title turned more than a few heads.
As with any first release in a series, Stoked wasn’t perfect. It received mixed but generally favorable reviews, the majority of which said basically the game was a near miss to being really good. So, Destineer gave the developers at Bongfish the go ahead to get back to work and finish what they started with Stoked: Big Air Edition.
I got this game in December, and played it quite a bit leading up to the Olympics. I had planned to write strictly based on my experience with this game in comparison to say SSX or some of the skateboard games I’d played in the past. The more I played the game, the more I liked it, so I decided I couldn’t do this review justice without playing the original game first to compare. After many hours between the two games, I finally got my act together and compiled a very late and oft-revised review.
The biggest part of Stoked: Big Air Edition is literally the biggest thing in the game; the mountains you’re shredding. And like the base you need to be able to ski, the mountains and the rest of the environment is basically dead on. There were five mountains in the original game, and two more were added in Stoked BAE. With the addition of the towering K2, there are now more than 500 square miles of surface to shred. With the exception of being able to feel the chill of the wind, or getting dizzy from the thin oxygen of the altitude, there’s a strong feeling of being in this game. Conditions happen in essentially a slightly faster real-time, and can have a real effect on your ability to complete tricks or races.
So many games cater to the gamers need to instantaneous gratification that they take the reality out of games that should be steeped in reality. BAE doesn’t have that problem. Days don’t have unlimited daylight; racing at dusk or in the dark is hazardous to your ability to see the course. Snowstorms don’t just inhibit visibility, they affect the way the board cuts through the snow and how the rider hangs in the air during tricks.

The other great thing about the environment is the way that it’s utilized to set up the various tasks the boarder can perform. While a menu system was added in BAE, jumping out of the helicopter and riding down to the point on mountain where different events begin felt a lot more natural. This was probably the only thing added with the second release that I didn’t feel made much of an impact.
The easiest and hardest things in the game are very much the same; just shredding the mountain. Once you hit the powder, you’re given every opportunity to fly through the air early and often. The tutorial mode teaches you the basics of tricks, but there is a huge difference between basic tricks and the ones that really score points. This is where the original Stoked fell down a bit. Trying the same three tricks in each the two games showed the time that Bongfish put into the control changes. In the first game, it was fairly difficult to replicate the same complex tricks. Because your athlete has to be able to do so many different moves, they pack a lot onto the controls. You had to hit the corners on the analog sticks just right and quickly, or the tricks simply wouldn’t work. With the release of BAE, they softened the controls enough to make getting the more difficult analog moves easier to complete.
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