Reviews// StokEd

Posted 9 Oct 2009 00:00 by
It's October. It's nearly winter. Contrary to what Big Girls everywhere would have you believe, however, it's not actually winter. The leaves haven't fallen off the trees yet and your chances of finding enough snow to sit a snowboard on then ride down a mountain in the northern hemisphere are minimal. What to do? Well, if you own an Xbox 360, you could buy StokEd. I'm not saying you should, but it's an option that's open to you.

The problem with BonFish's pared back, real world take on snowboarding is that there's just a little bit too much wrong with it to make StokEd an easy recommendation.

Things start off with a spot of rider customisation. You pick your gender, some clothes, some accessories and your gear. It's not, it must be said, a massively deep customisation tool. You've got little control over what your rider actually looks like and there isn't a massive amount of tackle to choose from. Still, it's there.

From there, after the expected quick tutorial, it's on to the mountain. Or, I should say, mountains. This is one of StokEd's strong points. There are five mountains in total (three to start with, two to be unlocked) all based on real locations, and they offer a fair old chunk of terrain to ride. You're free to explore and the amount of ground to be covered is refreshing. Another boon is that there are no invisible walls ? if you can get to it then you can ride it, and you stop only when you run out of downhill.

The problem with all that is that copious amounts of space does not necessarily equal a lot to do. As I mentioned a couple of paragraphs back, BongFish has taken a realistic approach to snowboarding, so you won't find the excessive number of trickable landscape features that riddle earlier snowboarding titles such as EA's SSX games. The realism's welcome, but the downside is that you'll sometimes find yourself having to sniff out stuff to trick off.

On the mountain, you're presented with a series of challenges scattered across the slopes for you to test your skills against. There's no particular order to them, leaving you to tackle the challenges, like the mountains, in whatever order you feel like. As you progress you acquire fame points, 66 of which adds up to you becoming a pro and getting sponsors sniffing about your bindings, complete with more events to unlock and gear to be won.

This process can, however, become a drag. While the freedom you're afforded is at first welcome, you'll be putting in a lot of hours to notch up the requisite number of points to become a pro, and the challenges can become repetitive.

Challenges predominantly consist of 'beat the score'-type tasks, in which you're required to beat another rider's number of points doing certain types of tricks off a certain section of terrain, and trick matching, where you have to do particular moves in a short timeframe to own a spot. On the one hand, the set-up's welcome for it's realism ? few riders of the solid, 3D variety spend much of their time carving massive half pipes or engaging in mountain-length downhill races. On the other, doing the same activities endlessly becomes tiresome. It's also difficult to get a free-flowing experience when you're having to constantly opt-in to short challenges.
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DoctorDee 9 Oct 2009 10:47
I was really looking forward to this game... now not so much. The open world approach is the right one, but with obscure mountains I've never ridden, and I'm never likely to ride, they may as well be studio-created fictional hills.

If they get this right in version 2, it could be a killer snowboarding game.

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