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Shaun White Skateboarding – Mirror's Edge meets Okami meets… Family Guy?!

Shaun White Skateboarding is attempting to breathe new life into the skateboarding genre. It's definitely different – its story-driven approach and emphasis on creativity immediately set it apart - but is it different good or different bad? We head to Ubisoft for some hands-on time to find out.


Above: You don't have to play as Shaun White – you can fully customize a male or female avatar to your liking  

For the single player, we're told that Shaun White himself insisted that the game be story-driven. Having too much story might seem like a misstep in a skateboarding game, but with the help of Family Guy writer John Viener, it looks like Shaun White Skateboarding is actually doing it right. Here's the set-up: the city of New Harmony has been brainwashed into mindless drones by a government group called the Ministry, whose basic belief seems to be that fun isn't fun. Total lack of personality is the ideal in New Harmony, and its citizens shuffle about town humorlessly in an almost zombie-like state. It sounds like a serious situation, but the 1984-esque totalitarian regime is almost adorable in its ridiculousness, as evidenced by the numerous propaganda posters that display during load times and are plastered across the city("Conformity! It's great!").

With the help of New Harmony's ex-mayor and your trusty skateboard, you set out to restore the city to its former glory. As you skateboard around the monochrome streets (somewhat reminiscent of the nameless city in Mirror's Edge), you can bring sterile environment back to life by performing tricks to "influence" those around you to snap out of their stupor. When you perform a trick, either by hitting X or using the right analog stick, as your skateboard hits the ground it sends a shockwave of color out around you – trees blossom spontaneously (ahem, totally like in Okami), people are suddenly wearing hip clothes, and some are even reading books! Truly, your skateboarding prowess is an inspiration to all who see. 


Above: The latest trailer gives you a sense of the before and after transformation of the environment

The cooler the trick you pull off, the more it boosts your flow meter, and the higher your flow meter the bigger the shockwave of influence you'll send out. You can't just skate around idly though, since your flow meter constantly drains when you're not doing tricks.

Special green shapeable rails appear all over each area too – when you hop on one, you can direct where it goes to reach higher areas like the tops of buildings. Once you've shaped the rail, you also need to worry about maintaining your balance so you don't fall. Like with real skating, balance is key to performing all kinds of tricks within the city's environments too. Using the analog stick, you carefully watch for visual cues as your skater leans and puts his arms out for balance, and gently correct left or right to keep him (or her) from falling. It took some practice for us to get the hang of, but the natural animations of your character make it intuitive. There's also no penalty for falling or messing up a trick, so experimenting with the environment and trying things multiple times doesn't get frustrating. 


Above: Shape green rails however you like - just make sure not to lose your balance 

Lastly, we also got a sneak-peek of Shaun White Skateboarding in 3D. If you have a 3D capable TV, you can play Shaun White in 3D, as we're told it supports pretty much every 3D TV on the market. While by no means essential to the game, it does seem to nicely enhance the feeling of scale and "bigness" that Shaun White Skateboarding is going for. Flying up a huge vert ramp and shooting into the air definitely looks impressive in 3D, to the point where it might even make you a little uneasy if you have a fear of heights.


Above: Verts start small near the beginning of the game and get much larger

So far we're liking what we're seeing, not just as skateboarding fans but as fans in general of interesting sandboxy worlds with lots of stuff to explore. Expect more details on Shaun White Skateboarding in the coming months, especially since we haven't seen the multiplayer at all yet and it promises both co-op and versus modes. Stay tuned.

Aug 10, 2010

15 comments

  • elpurplemonkey - August 12, 2010 5:38 a.m.

    The skateboarding genre has gotten pretty stale, this looks like it might liven it up a bit. And that song from the trailer really got in my head. I had to search for it for a while, it's called Come on Feet by Pete & the Pirates in case anyone enjoyed it as much as I did.
  • Xplosive59 - August 11, 2010 1:40 p.m.

    Shaun White looks like Dave Mustaine from Megadeth, also this is shaping up to look like a good game
  • frozenghost - August 11, 2010 5:23 a.m.

    Shaun White is the new Tony Hawk.
  • notthatgoodthanks - August 11, 2010 3:25 a.m.

    We need a a skating game like this. Tony hawks has lost the fun and the gameplay and skate is way too serious for me, its kind of lost it with skate 3 too. This just looks like it will be a lot of fun to play, that can only be a good thing. Skate games right now are kinda dull.
  • JoeMasturbaby - August 11, 2010 2:11 a.m.

    anything beats the new tony hawk games.
  • Helios - August 11, 2010 1:15 a.m.

    Hm. Looks interesting. And if it has anything similar to Mirror's Edge- and I mean anything, even if it is a tiny similarity- I will definitely be keeping an eye on this one.
  • Ultimadrago - August 10, 2010 11:44 p.m.

    Failure. More like Tony Hawk makes out with DeBlob. I call a crash on this title, at best. There is only so much developers have proved to be able to accomplish with skateboarding titles. This is not breaking any great grounds for one.
  • Dorito72 - August 10, 2010 11:35 p.m.

    i have to say, it looks much, much better than any tony hawk game, but i'll still probably stick to skate.
  • BearWrastler61 - August 10, 2010 11:35 p.m.

    I might have to check this out. Im a huge fan of skating games even though im not an actual skater.
  • CH3BURASHKA - August 10, 2010 11:32 p.m.

    Has there ever been a more sensationalist title? Methinks not. And why the hell is Shaun White getting a skateboarding game? I don't associate him with skateboarding - he's all about the snowboard!
  • evilrainbow7 - August 10, 2010 10:54 p.m.

    Wow, that really does sound like jet set radio!!!
  • shyfonzie - August 10, 2010 10:40 p.m.

    I'm really interested. Except for Shaun White, that trailer looked great until that dumb ass hat from Gamestop started talking.
  • Ride - August 10, 2010 10:10 p.m.

    this is the first skateboarding game I actually like the look of. I probably won't play it, but it still is nice to see then trying to take a stale genre and making it fun again.
  • DRILLERDUD - August 10, 2010 10:07 p.m.

    At first I thought it was going to be a shameless shovelware title with Shaun White on the cover, but now it's looking good.
  • oufour - August 10, 2010 9:53 p.m.

    this is shaping up to be a next gen jet grind radio.

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