Shaun White Skateboarding is the latest Shaun White game, the third in the series, developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. This is also a first for Ubisoft, as the game ships with a digital manual and no paper version in the box.
The premise is a strange one for a skateboarding game. You are a loyal subject, I guess a civil servant for the big bad Ministry. You work away day in day out, until one day you are called to go into work early, to process the Ministry’s number one felon, Shaun White. For some inexplicable reason, Shaun White hands you his skateboard and the sirens go off, forcing you to run away from your job while Shaun White is carted away. You see skateboarding is evil; it is the scourge of the earth to the Ministry that is why they hate Shaun White so much. To be in possession of a skateboard also makes you evil, hence the alarms.
You escape thru a pipe and told you will be helped by a guy called Jonah. For some reason the world is literally grey and devoid of colour, due to the oppression of the Ministry; Jonah is at the forefront of the resistance to change this. Your job is to influence the world and people with skateboarding, to bring colour to the world again, once you achieve this, Shaun White will be set free.
Basically the story is their so it can show you this drab grey world and you will be able to literally see and transform the world into enriched colours when you skate. Unfortunately it just makes the whole game a stale vacuous experience. The story is I am afraid stupid for a skateboarding game. Why not just skip all that and say you have to just bring colour to the world and do away with a tedious career, of evil sterile people versus colour and resistance? What next the power of mine? This just detracts away from when you play the game. I just wanted to skate. You get fleeting moments of good gameplay, but this is spoiled over and over by a poor premise and a story structure that doesn’t make sense in a skateboarding game. Why use Shaun white as an icon and not use him more?
The graphics I am afraid to say are also a bit bland. The engine looks dated. Yes it has a good idea of it being drab and you inject colour into it yourself, but if a game looks old graphically and doesn’t seem to have great textures. then it will always feel flat. The game does support 3d stereoscopy but I was unable to test this. 3d at the moment is a new technology not in many homes. I have used it on PC for over 10yrs and I know when it works it can be a visual masterpiece but as I am unable to test this part of the game, I will stick to what most of us will see and for that the game is stale graphically. The character editor, when you start your career, is basic at best, with a few head designs and so on. There is nothing really there from a graphics stand point.
We all know Skateboarding is about the gameplay and not some attempt to fit a story in and again I am afraid to say, Shaun Whites Skateboarding is on a very basic level. If you are into a sim style skateboarding experience, where you control every single trick yourself and have full control, I suggest you move on. This is old school skateboarding. We are going back to the days where you can grind countless feet, where a flick of the right stick or the press of the A button does a set random trick. If you are into arcade style gameplay you might like Shaun White, as it does have something to offer those in that respect.
As the world is grey and devoid of colour and your job is to influence the world, the gameplay is made more basic to achieve this and at times feels more like a platform game. The basic right stick flicking or pressing A reflects this. You see you have two major areas attached to the gameplay; influence and flow. Influence is achievable by doing tricks over and over, which increases an influence bar. The influence bar is used for influencing certain key people that you need for objectives. This is very basic, like get to level two influences, then you can speak to a certain person for your next objective. If you trick near an influence circle, it restructures everything around it and changes the section into colour, influencing the standard people surrounding it and making things like ramps appear out of the ground to trick on. If you string tricks together, you achieve a multiplier bonus maxing out at x2
Shaping is certain ramps, rails and other structures exist and are highlighted in green, instead of the usual drab grey. If you move onto these shaping sections and grind them, or traverse, then they will actually shape and grow. For example you grind a rail and the rail actually moves with you, basically creating a rollercoaster effect, going up from the ground to a rooftop, as you grind an incredible amount of distance. The game says it is free flowing, but in reality it follows a strict path you cannot change and has an ending. In reality all you have to do is stay with the shaping as it unfolds. Once you have opened one of these shaped structures you are free to use it to increase your influence bar and do tricks on.
The problem with the game is it becomes repetitive very easily. The story is basic and the objectives are I am afraid to say tedious. You end up going to an area, doing tricks until the influence bar reaches a certain level; so you can activate your objective, shaping X amount of rails, do so many platform challenges and then repeating. The gameplay mechanics are very basic in how the skateboarding is done.; it is too easy to perform super human tricks and grinds that you end up feeling detached from skating due to the lax physics. The game feels lost as it doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be a skateboarding game or a platform experience in places. As the mechanics of doing tricks is at best random with the right stick and A button (and variations of grabs etc.. with triggers) this makes the feeling of skating a hollow experience.
Shaun White is an ok game, if you are into doing 80m grinds and unbelievable tricks in the air. If you want a new take on skateboarding and a premise that you alter the world with colour, want to see this happen in front of you and just want an easy arcade skateboarding experience, this might be for you. For seasoned Skateboarding fans it won’t be.
- 3 Stars!
“If you want a new take on skateboarding and a premise that you alter the world with colour and just want an easy arcade skateboarding experience, this might be for you.“
Version tested X360