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Stoked review

AT A GLANCE
  • Sharp physics and controls
  • Challenges actually make you learn tricks
  • Laser-focused sim; no silly story here
  • Takes a few hours to get interesting
  • Tough to navigate in the competitions
  • Online competition's a little sparse

We found Shaun White Snowboarding to be a solid diversion, but its bewildering coin-collecting focus and unlockable skills, like busting down obstacles with nary a scratch, must have thrown off those seeking a straight-up simulation of the sport. Stoked happily aims for that more pure experience and the differences are apparent from the start: no silly narrative, no special powers, and – most importantly – no currency to hunt down on the wide-open slopes.

Instead, you get a no-nonsense recreation of the sport that actually forces you to learn tricks or constantly consult the manual – a little of both, really. Initially, this lack of frills comes off as a lack of focus, as your first few hours in Stoked will be spent completing simple challenges with no real sense of when it will add up to more. But after accumulating enough fame points, the floodgates open with interested sponsors, photo ops, film challenges, and large competitions spread across the five slightly nondescript massive mountain settings.

While the occasional race or other off-beat event type would have been a nice campaign addition, Stoked's focus on learning and pulling off specific tricks works very well and is encouraged by the short challenges you'll be immersed in. You'll fail – often – but it'll drill certain tricks into your brain and force you to gain a better understanding of positioning, both in the air and when attempting to land. It's tough, and chances are you'll want to toss the controller at some point (or curse at the bystanders' quips, as we did), but when it all eventually clicks, Stoked absolutely recaptures that sense of accomplishment that made EA's skateboarding sim Skate such a fantastic experience.

 

In fact, Stoked's control scheme seems very much inspired by Skate, albeit without the more complex thumbstick movements. Both jumping and tricks are mapped to the right stick, with grabs executed by holding one or both trigger buttons. Aside from the occasional "shoulda-been" landing, we largely found the controls responsive and physics convincing; the only notable exception comes with the trick competitions, which take place in tight, roped-off areas. It's not hard to lose momentum by crashing in these areas, and recovering on a flat plain can be an exercise in futility. We even got stuck between a rock and a hard place (well, a particularly sturdy fence) in one competition and had to start over a couple times.

Stoked's online approach takes a cue from Shaun White, allowing players to easily swap between campaign challenges and riding against others, and the races we would've liked to see offline actually appear on Xbox Live, along with trick-based events. Actually finding seven other players to ride against on a regular basis has been a challenge, but that may be an unfortunate consequence of Stoked being a little-hyped budget ($40) release. Please buy this and meet us on the slopes.

Other low-budget signifiers include some bland-looking riders and effects, not to mention few "known" artists on the soundtrack. But in the areas that really count – offering a compelling, substantial simulation of the sport – Stoked is the best option for virtual powder fiends we've seen in some time.

Mar 4, 2009

More Info

Release date: Feb 27 2009 - Xbox 360 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Sports
Published by: Destineer
Developed by: Bongfish GmbH
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Lyrics, Mild Suggestive Themes
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

11 comments

  • RedDwarf - March 7, 2009 9:02 p.m.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcasm
  • Daywalkr - March 7, 2009 3:03 p.m.

    Why in the frickin world would you want to snowboard on a school or an aircraft hangar?
  • Drama - March 6, 2009 9:35 a.m.

    The game is well worth $40. Fuck, it's worth $60. Damn them for making a game I wanted to pay full price for but gave it a budget title price instead! *ahem* The screenshots don't really do the game justice. It looks better when you play it but at the same time.. it's just mountains covered in snow. At $40, I don't see how anyone can bitch about that.
  • zymn - March 6, 2009 4:51 a.m.

    this looks great. and i'd get it if i didn't feel like i've got enough sports games already. haha
  • Jbo87 - March 5, 2009 4:55 p.m.

    @radicle 94 I've got to agree with you there, the environments don't look particularly diverse. They should have included one with a school or an aircraft hangar. I mean just snow covered mountains its a bit of a let down in a snowboarding game.
  • Craza - March 5, 2009 12:31 a.m.

    That's great 'n all, but I wants SSX! Looks nice, though.....
  • radicle94 - March 4, 2009 10:25 p.m.

    ive always liked a good snowboarding game but the enviroments in the pics look not to diverse
  • TrIp13G - March 4, 2009 10:21 p.m.

    Finally, a decent snowboarding game(barring Amped 3) that will hold me over until EA gets their s*** together and releases a new SSX.
  • radicle94 - July 7, 2009 2:20 a.m.

    @JBO87 ive played snowboarding games with actual color, ramps with red, more trees in the foreground, hell make some muddy areas, infact why dont you just make it hoth and ill be fine
  • patarman12 - March 23, 2009 1:06 a.m.

    This is one of the most realistic games I've ever played. I love it! The graphics, sound, and all of the different locations make it extemely enjoyable. A must buy; 10/10
  • Aer0teK - March 5, 2009 5:11 a.m.

    Looks like a good play but i really have to agree...where the ass is SSX?!?!?

Showing 1-11 of 11 comments

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