Soul Ride - PC - Review
The grinding, sandpaper-like sound of your snowboard scraping over a rock outcropping is interspliced with the audio of your edges cutting into the ice-hard snow on the downhill run. It’s fast, and furious, but you must not only worry about the time, but also add a few tricks here and there to boost your overall score.
Soul Ride from Slingshot is a mixed bag of high-speed play and moderate-speed graphics. It’s almost a case of the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good is the three-dimensional environment. The courses are fantastic and wonderfully rendered. You have the choice of two mountains, seven runs on the first and eight on the second. You must qualify, not only in completing the run in the ‘par’ time, but with some style point tacked on in order to unlock other runs along the way.
The bad is the representation of the snowboarder. This is a two-dimensional cardboard cutout, that more like resembles Charlie Brown in winter, overstuffed by clothing, than an actual snowboarder. His arms are outstretched, presumably for balance, but there is little realistic movement. If the snowboarder stalls his run on a rock outcropping, he topples – like a cardboard cutout in a slight breeze.
The ugly involves the crash sequences. The clipping path evaporates at times, and parts of your character merges with the environment, only to emerge and tumble like a department-store mannequin on the slope. For the pure enjoyment of watching a boarder eat it, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 offers the best splats.
The controls seem joystick-based, with players having to push button one or two to affect moves. Slingshot is producing a board, which will couple to your computer to enhance the experience, but at the time of this game’s release, the board is not available.
Now cast all that aside. There is an instant replay mode that will rewind the game – up to three times – from the point of your crash and allow you to continue without penalty. You can also pick your own coarse of descent through the helo-drop option. And, of course, there are the terrain graphics – which are very well done. Initially game players are allowed to drop over two runs on two mountains. Your score will determine if you can unlock the other runs on the mountain. Not only will you have to master the technique of jumping, but a few spinning or twisting aerials and rail grabs will stand you in good stead in the final analysis.
There are also four weather options that you can select to increase the level of difficulty – as if the courses themselves weren’t difficult enough.
Overall, Soul Ride has some faults, but is not a bad program. Though controls cannot be re-configured through the options menu, you can muddle your way through the basics. Ignore the boarder polygonal representation, and enjoy the mountain and you will find this a challenging downhill run.
This program is rated for Everyone, and does not support multiplayer gaming. You can make a recording of your run and share it, but you can’t compete head-to-head with other gamers. It also should be noted that this game was developed in conjunction with The Catapult Snowboard Controller, a skateboard-sized interface that will allow gamers to navigate in much the same manner as the on-screen character.
Install: Easy and fast. This program rips onto your hard drive.
Gameplay: 8. From the top of the run to the bottom, this is a smooth ride.
Graphics: 7.5. This is a mixed bag – featuring great three-dimensional terrain graphics and a two-dimensional cardboard skier.
Sound: 7. The board scrapes appropriately across the terrain, but there is little other audio to entice.
Difficulty: 8.5. There is a time limit and a tough course to traverse, making this a challenging program
Concept: 7. Boarding games are nothing new. What Soul Ride adds is dynamic terrain graphics.
Overall: 7. This program has faults, most notably
in the graphics surrounding the snowboarder, but otherwise, it is a fast-paced
program that slices through the snow, challenging gamers to survey the
terrain, adjust and snag style points to advance to more difficult courses.