Iâ€™m not sure if it was the original Playstation or the PS2, but there was a series of snowboarding games that were a lot of fun. You got to board down a pre-defined track, with lots of convenient things to trick off. The gameplay was so simple. You could just button mash your way to a high score, and landing was easy, in-fact the Playstation just about did it for you. It was one of the most fun games around. Sadly however, like Wii Fit it got old real quick. Once the initial fun wore off there was no real challenge worth hanging around for. This probably explains why I never considered playing any snowboarding games on my XBox (I donâ€™t even know if there was any!) or until recently, on my 360.Â
So why did I return to the Snowboarding genre? Well, it was what Stoked promised that got me back on the powder; unlimited freedom.
The premise was that you could take a helicopter up any of a number of mountains and jump off at any spot and snowbaord all the way to the bottom. No short, predefined course, just sandbox boarding. If this wasnâ€™t the perfect snowboarding game, there never would be one.
First however, you have to complete the tutorial. But tutorials are easy, just a way to get you used to the controls, right. Yes and no. Stoked is a long way from the games of old. There would be no button mashing my way through this game, I had to master the complexity of thumbstick, trigger and button actions. This was multitasking at itâ€™s finest. I was reminded why I love racing games so much; accelerate and brake â€“ pretty easy right.
It took me a while to get through the tutorial, for one I had to learn how to land properly after pulling a trick. My 360 wasnâ€™t about to do it for me.
Slowly I managed to get the hang of things and was onto the game proper, but things never got easy, the game continues to be a challenge, which is a good thing. Stoked may not have the instant gratification of the games of old, but it did have legs and rewarded you for sticking with it.
I guess you could call Stoked a simulation of sorts â€“ as close to snowboarding as youâ€™re ever going to get sitting on your couch. Pity much anyone can pick up the game (so long as someone has complete the tutorial) and snowboard down the mountain. It takes dedication and mastering of the skills to progress through the game.
Itâ€™s this that is going to define weather you love or hate Stoked. If youâ€™re looking for cheap thrills, go buy a Wii and swing your arms around like a silly bugger. If however, you want to feel a real sense of achievement. If you like to rise to the challenge and never take no for an answer, then you might just have what it takes to become a snowboarder.
Stoked however has more than just improved game-play, graphically itâ€™s pretty damn amazing. Remember, you get to choose which way you want to point your board, and you get to descend the whole mountain. Thatâ€™s an awful lot of terrain to be modelled, yet itâ€™s the best looking mountain youâ€™ve ever seen in any game. The terrain varies, from the windblown peak with nothing but snow and rock, to the tree covered lower slopes where youâ€™ll have to stay focussed and learn how to weave. But wait, thereâ€™s more (a clichÃ© I know), every run has the ability to be different not only because you can take different routes, but also be cause the weather conditions are in a constant flux.
Stoked comes as close to being the perfect snowboarding game, but a few minor glitches with collision detection rob it of itâ€™s crown. It is however, without a doubt, the best snowboarding game currently available.
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Available on: XBox 360