reviews\ Dec 10, 2002 at 7:00 pm

TransWorld Snowboarding - XB - Review

As an extreme sports enthusiast, I find it a real pleasure knowing that game designers continue to present sports games based on everything from skateboarding to surfing.  The Xbox has certainly seen its share of extreme snowboarding titles with games like Amped or SSX Tricky and now joining this group is TransWorld Snowboarding.  So do snowboarding fans have something to cheer about?  Read on and find out.


At a glance, Snowboarding seems to be playing in the same field that was plowed by both SSX Tricky and Amped while adding elements of Tony Hawk Pro Skater-like challenges.  It certainly does have elements of both a simulator and arcade-styled action.  The game offers five modes: TransWorld Tour, Single Session, Time Attack Mode, Freeride and Multiplayer.  Most of these modes have been seen before in other games with the exception of Time Attack Mode.   This mode has you going through a timed run and then have you attempt to beat the record by racing against yourself (the game adds a “ghost” version of yourself doing exactly what you did during the first run).


The main mode of playing the game, TransWorld Tour, has five different level types--Slopestyle, Halfpipe, Boarder Rally, Straight Jump and Backcountry.  Each level spans through sixteen various locations throughout the world using ten real-life snowboarding pros like Andrew Crawford or Tina Basich.  The game offers a list of challenges ala-Tony Hawk that demands gamers to grind certain objects, make the cover of a magazine or score a certain amount of points in order to unlock the next location.  Even if you missed an objective or two after completing a run, gamers can always do the level over to finish the missed challenge.


Each level type can offer up a lengthy stretch of terrain (like the Bavarian location) or a short ride (such as the Finland Lapland).  Straight Jump, for example is a simple goal-based run that offers very little in challenges but has a steep jump big enough to earn you big points.  In Boarder Rally you race against other competitors to the bottom while attempting to make some extra points.  


While the game gives you plenty to do, there is not much of a challenge found here.  Gamers will quickly find out from the very start that pulling off tricks and combos is a fairly simple feat.  If you pick up enough speed on a slope and jump off, you will find that you will have enough time to pull off various different combo tricks and hardly ever land badly.  In fact, bad landings seldom do end in disaster . . . nor does slamming into a moving vehicle or tree trunk (sometimes you can even go right through them).


Visually, Snowboarding comes off quite strikingly when it comes to the environment.  The carefully packed powder of the man-made pipes look nicely rendered while off the beaten path you’ll find some bumps and dips.  Depending on the terrain, gamers will find plenty of wildlife in the slopes of Bavaria or nicely lit up buildings in some ghetto somewhere in the United States.  The pros look nicely rendered, especially their clothes, while their faces are somewhat odd.


The game’s sound is a mixed bag that has some really strong points as well as some really weak ones.  For starters, the game features minimal sound effects that mostly consist of your board cutting through the snow as well as the distant sound of the spectators and sports photographers.  The game also starts out with an announcer the offer info on the terrain like a televised sport event and then is strangely absent during the end of the run.  Fortunately the soundtrack is filled to the brim with great tunes that include songs from The Apex Theory, Riddlin’ Kids, Dilated Peoples and the Black Eyed Peas.


TransWorld Snowboarding is just too flawed a game to compete with the other extreme snowboarding titles already available.  Unfortunately it is all those imperfection that take gamers away from the overall experience of enjoying a snowboarding title with a nice selection of pros and locations to choose from as well as the addition of a four player multiplayer mode.  A highly forgettable game that extreme sports fans should skip.


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 6.1
The controls are fairly basic and pulling off tricks like ollies, nosegrabs, methods or melons is as simple as manipulating the thumbsticks.    Gamers will find that performing complex combos is just a question of experimenting on your own.  If you found the controls easy to manage in TransWorld Surf, then this is a walk in the park.


Snowboarding also piles on the challenges, many of them simple tasks like grinding an object for a few seconds or performing a backwards flip.  There are many times when you won’t complete each and every objective but the game does allow you to go back again until you successfully complete the majority of the tasks.  The rewards for completing objectives are opening the next location as well as new boards and videos.  


Graphics: 7.8
The environments are amazingly rich in details and gamers will be definitely impressed by how lush each terrain is and how mostly everything can be interacted with.  Thick tree branches stick out of the beautifully textured snow as your board scraps along its bark.  Sprinting out of your way is the wildlife found in the more natural areas of the terrain that add to the environment.


The snowboarders also look great out there and move quite naturally, especially when they take an awful spill or land wrong.  One of the neatest little details is that if your snowboarder had goggles on, if they make a particularly harsh landing the goggles fly off their faces and they never get them back.  Unfortunately, the faces of each pro are not done that well and their blank stares don’t help things either.


Sound: 8.0
A wide assortment of tunes crossing various genres make up the game’s playlist and gamers will find everything from Hoobastank to Bubba Sparxxx.  The great thing about the soundtrack is that if you don’t like one particular song you can just skip to the next one by pressing the black button twice.  And if all those songs don’t move you then gamers can add their own soundtrack by burning them to the Xbox hard disk.


The sound effects are sparsely used in this game with just the snowboard against the ice or other surfaces and the cheering crowd at the end of the run.  Occasionally a vehicle will beep at you or you’ll hear a helicopter somewhere, but that is about it.  You’ll hardly ever find any environmental sounds here either.


Difficulty: Easy
The game is actually not all that challenging thanks to the fact that crashes are almost nonexistent.  The airtime when making a jump is also unrealistically lengthy, allowing you to make all the tricks and combos needed. 


Concept: 7.0
With plenty of modes and game types, TransWorld Snowboarding is on the right path in terms of having different events to offer gamers.  The inventive Time Attack Mode is where the game shows true innovation but unfortunately it is marred by the game’s imperfections.  The videos they offer as rewards are either of the music kind--which is good--and snowboarding footage--which will appeal only to fellow snowboarders.


Multiplayer: 7.0
The game offers two multiplayer options for up to four players, but it is Split-Screen mode that has all four players on the screen at once as they attempt to outscore and outrace one another.  This is the perfect alternative to Super Pro Mode, which has each player wait their turn patiently as they collect as much points as possible.  All in all, the multiplayer mode is weak but gamers will be glad its there in the first place.


Overall: 6.8
Plagued with various imperfections, TransWorld Snowboarding does not rise above its problems to be an extreme sports title worthy of a snowboarding aficionado.  If you are looking for a challenging snowboarding game, I suggest investing your hard-earned cash on something else.

Above Average

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