Shaun White Skateboarding

by Angela Simpson
author awarded score: 70/100

Shaun White Skateboarding Review
Developer: Ubisoft
Format Reviewed: Playstation 3
Reviewed by: Angela Simpson

Shaun White is probably better known for his snowboarding games than his skateboarding, but that hasn’t stopped Ubisoft Montreal from bringing us Shaun White Skateboarding, one of a few new titles that – with the right setup – is playable in full stereoscopic 3D. We’re lucky enough to have such a setup at HQ and this review, whilst reviewing the game itself, will also feature a full 3D review for Shaun White Skateboarding.

First up let’s talk about the game itself. Shaun White Skateboarding borrows bits and pieces from the various skateboarding games available, but it seems to be more a political statement than a die hard Tony Hawk style stunt fest. Shaun White Skateboarding is a story driven game that pokes a stoner finger at the establishment. The city of New Harmony is run by suits, skateboarding is illegal and it is a grey drab place. That’s where you come in, Shaun gives you his skateboard and it’s up to you to bring back the hippy vibe.

The Ministry are the suits who – in a sort of Orwellian / Aldous Huxley fashion – have laid down the law when it comes to self expression and creativity. They’ve captured Shaun White and think their problems are over. That is until the cool skater-chick hits the streets, well in our game anyway. Yes at the start of character creation you can choose male or female, which is a step up from certain other skater titles which shall remain nameless.

Shaun White utilizes a fairly simple control system of triggered acceleration mixed with simple thumb stick and button fed tricks. There’s little in the way of difficulty, other than we found some tricks would only work intermittently despite doing exactly what was stated onscreen, an oddity that led to a little frustration.

The main addition in gameplay terms is that of “flow”, a sort of three level power-up that allows you to do various transformative magic, ie sticking it to the man. In order to change parts of the drab corporate world you might only need a flow level of one, others though will need you to build it up to a two or three. Flow is built up by doing tricks and can initiate various in game transformations. Herein lay your main objective, rid the world of the greys and bring back the color and life.

This open-ended gameplay though isn’t without a few niggling issues, not least of all the sectioned off world, that at times can ruin set-pieces in the overall story. Ironically this can completely ruin the “flow” of the game. Shaun White Skateboarding also changes its direction once you’re a fair way in, which we won’t spoil, but it’s not great. Having said that though, it’s still a fun title.

The sound in Shaun White Skateboarding is what you would expect, though strangely there is an obvious lack of skater music during certain sections, which seemed odd for a skateboarding title. This issue though is quickly remedied once you’ve played the first section. The surround sound – if you’re lucky enough to have a good setup – is amazing, so that too gets a mention.

Female Gamer Angle
Well we kind of covered it briefly didn’t we. Shaun White Skateboarding allows you to play as a female character. As for peripheral female characters, there are a few, though most of the character models appeared to be male and of course the main character – who does not appear until near the end – is Shaun, who despite the long girly hair is obviously a guy.

Now onto that Shaun White Skateboarding 3D review section
We figured although not everyone has a 3D TV setup, some of you might and as no one else seems to be covering this aspect of games at the moment, we figured we’d jump on in. The stereoscopic 3D in Shaun White Skateboarding is great, there doesn’t appear to be any blur or other issues related to 3D visuals. Your skater pops out at you along with various scenery, as do menus and scores which seems to be a favorite of game designers and televised 3D events. All in all having the 3D doesn’t change the game per se, but it certainly brings a new level of enjoyment, particularly during certain set pieces, which look amazing.

Shaun White Skateboarding isn’t the greatest game in this genre, but the addition of stereoscopic 3D gameplay and the overarching story with cheeky somewhat deep socio political overtones certainly sets it in a little niche of its own. Skateboarding to add color to an otherwise grim world and getting to do so with an awesome dyke skater-chick is a lot of fun, but it’s not without its issues. Slow gameplay and at times sticky controls can cause problems, though not to the detriment of fun overall.

Whether you have a 3D setup or not though and despite its issues, this is definitely worth a look. Shaun White Skateboarding is not a game changer, but it at least tries to step outside the box, or as Shaun might say “hey man just give it a try and go with the FLOW”.

This review originally appeared at our partner site Thumb Bandits