Shaun White Skateboarding Review

Shaun White has decided to drop his snowboard and pick up a skateboard, throwing his name into the fray and competing with genre stalwarts Tony Hawk and Skate. To its credit, Shaun White Skateboarding does offer a completely new way of interacting with your environment through skating, but this extreme athlete may need a few more years in the development house if his game is to compete with the legacy of Tony Hawk or the refinement of Skate‘s mechanics.

Shaun White Skateboarding casts you as an ex-Ministry employee turned skater. See, in the city of New Harmony, a government group named The Ministry suppresses all self-expression in a 1984-like society. The city is gray, bland, and everyone walks around staring at propaganda posters declaring that skateboarding is criminal and feeling is bad for you. Inspired by Shaun White, you decide to take up a board and start tricking all over New Harmony, restoring color and self-expression to the repressed society. While this sounds hokey, the story and world are actually realized very well. The writing and characters are well done, with parts being genuinely funny. It’s a dumb concept, but Ubisoft Montreal did a good job making it feel right.

Changing the world 

The way you interact with the city is by building your flow meters from tricks. The more tricks you perform, the more flow you gain, which then influences the world around you. Color begins to flood the environment and architecture morphs back into a city of art and culture. Certain areas and structures require more flow to influence, so you’ll need to pull off more complex moves to get there. One way to do this is through shaping. Shaping is completed through special rails, ramps, and streets that you ride and will actively create new architecture, getting you to higher places or hidden areas where you can perform better tricks. They produce massive flow totals and transform the city into a living skate park.

There is a sense of real accomplishment when you skate back and take a look at what you have done. What begins as a grayscale environment becomes a Technicolor dream world full of shaping rails and new buildings that looks simply wonderful. This is Shaun White Skateboarding‘s greatest accomplishment. Influencing the world and building new environments is a real treat and makes you feel like you are truly building something, even though you can’t move the shaping items at first. When you can, it opens a bit more and allows you to put your own spin on the environment.

The skating is somewhere between Tony Hawk’s extravagance and Skate’s technical realism, never achieving either. You perform tricks by flicking the right stick in certain directions and grabs by pulling the triggers. It works, but that is about all it does. Skating in Shaun White is actually very boring and compared to a world that is morphing around you, your moves never match that visual punch. It feels like it’s unsure of what it wants to do, only offering a ho-hum system that made me just wants to walk from point A to point B, something that should be avoided in a skateboarding game.

Shaping rail 

Story missions are a collection of fun shaping quests or boring fetch quests. The game teeters between these two points and it never really hits a consistent level of enjoyment throughout your quest. The best compliment I can give the story progression is serviceable, with lots of room for improvement.

The multiplayer is your standard fare, offering Go With The Flow (Score Attack), King of the Hill, Ministry vs. The Rising (Team Score Attack), and Free Skate, which you unlock through the uPlay system. These are all great sounding modes, but I couldn’t find a multiplayer session. Hosting my own game yielded the same results, so testing any of this was not possible.

Shaun White Skateboarding is a solid first effort; a great proof of concept that doesn’t fully execute on the ideas presented. With a better tuned skating mechanic and a more inspired story, the game could be a worthy contender to take on the titans of skateboarding. Until then, it’s a game that floats uncomfortably between the two.

3 out of 5


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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