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Stoked – hands-on

While you can use either method at any time, being consistent will score you higher, so you’ll tend to stick with one for a while and learn to perfect it. We found it difficult to retrain our brain to slow down from the standard Hucker style, but pulling off Stylish tricks had its own satisfying reward. Of course, there are numerous cinematic camera angles you can exploit to get the most style out of your successes.

Keeping with the realistic tone, the world in which you ride feels less like a level-designed mesh and more like a real ski resort. There is the dynamic weather that changes snow conditions (bare rocks that block you path in the morning may be covered in snow in the afternoon), there is the full 360 degrees on each mountain to explore, and you even reach the bottom sometimes in the boondock woods, coasting to a stop on flat ground before reaching any kind of artificial barrier.

The instant means for getting around also reduces frustration. Aside from the helicopter that delivers you to any launch point you want, you can also manually place a restart point at any time, so if you see a juicy ramp you want to launch a perfect jump off of, you can set your restart above it, and if you mess up the jump, just tap a button and you can try again. There are also various challenges plonked around the mountains where you have to land a pre-set trick sequence, often with some creativity allowed, and again it’s easy to restart these quickly if you mess up, or if you get frustrated you can just ride on down the slope and ignore the challenge.

Stoked seems to have nailed the realism factor in the trick system, while still opening up a whole new approach with the Stylish method. It was complex enough that we were far from mastering it after an hour. We can’t tell yet how long it will hold up – will it maintain interest after we get used to the physicality becomes familiar? Will there be enough challenges and interesting hidden nooks to discover on the mountains? Will it be robust where Shaun White was thin, and challenging where SSX was too simple? From what we saw, it looked like it could hold our interest for a while beyond our session, and the crisp crackle of the sound of board on snow certainly got us hankering for the real thing, which is always a good sign.

Jan 7, 2009