Stoked – hands-on

Set to fill the void left in the wake of a certain red-headed rider's mediocre entry

By now you may be aware of Stoked’s plan to approach snowboarding from the SKATE perspective – piling on a hefty dose of reality instead of the increasingly physics-ignoring SSX series. We recently sat down and plowed through several of the game’s mountains, exploring numerous launch points over the course of a meaty play session.

While the SSX games were certainly fun, there came a point in each where the ridiculous number of moves you could pull off, and the distinct lack of physical connection between what you did on the controller and what happened onscreen caused a loss of sheen. It just wasn’t satisfying anymore because you could pull off too much. SKATE recognized that trend in Tony Hawk and decided to get back to the real world. Shaun White sort of attempted it, but wimped out in its attempt to appeal to a wide audience and ended up watered down.

Stoked brings the physicality back in a satisfying, neck breaking way. In our first attempts at tricks, we were trying to pull off unreal combos and kept landing on our head. We had to dial it back and exercise restraint, which actually has the opposite effect from what you might expect: instead of becoming tame and boring, the tricks became more tense and precise. Nailing the landing is more of a challenge, and planning tricks becomes necessary since you can’t just whip out ten moves on a whim mid-air.

There are also two distinct approaches to riding: Hucker or Stylish. These are not modes or stances, but techniques you can choose at any given time based on your taste. Hucker is what you find in most boarding games – fast, strung-together moves, cramming in as many tricks as you can. Stylish is a refreshing approach that widens your options and presents replayability since you have a whole other way of doing things when you get tired of the other. In Stylish riding, it’s all about quality over quantity: pulling slow, smooth spins and grabs, and making perfect landings.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My new approach to play all games on Hard mode straight off the bat has proven satisfying. Sure there is some frustration, but I've decided it's the lesser of two evils when weighed against the boredom of easiness that Normal difficulty has become in the era of casual gaming.

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