reviews\ May 22, 2002 at 8:00 pm

TransWorld Surf - PS2 - Review

Transworld Surf had made something of a splash when it was first released for the Xbox, but now PS2 owners will get the chance to wax their surfboards and hit the biggest waves in the most exotic locales seen in a surf game thus far.  The result might just be one of the best surfing games available.


The game takes gamers through three different playing modes: The Pro-Tour, Single Session and Free Surf.  Free Surf is basically more of a self-tutorial, helping gamers understanding the controls and how to perform tricks.  Single Session is a timed event much like the Pro-Tour competitions, which have you choosing from thirteen different pro surfers such as Shawn Barron or Tim Curran. There are also several locations to compete in (and sometimes you can even choose what time of day to surf).


Controlling the surfers takes much practice but still the controls are far smoother than that of Sunny Garcia Surfing or even the original Xbox version. Tricks such as airs, floaters and grabs are easy to perform; yet the much difficult ones can be a bit of a problem to execute. Luckily the instruction manual is thorough. And like the Xbox version, there are plenty of extras to unlock such as better gear, extra surfers and new locations. 


Then there’s the obvious fact that there is no difficulty setting.  Part of the reason is that the game’s controls are the first major hurdle to go through, then there’s the question of the trick list.  Although the more basic tricks are easy to execute, the much difficult ones require a few turns in the Free Surf mode.  During the heaviest action--in Competition mode--the challenges that have to be met before moving on to the next level or location are plentiful.  One such challenge, for instance, has gamers attempting a set number of tricks or performing odd feats as freeing dolphins from fish nets.


Although not a visual achievement, the game does offer one of the most impressive looking wave effects seen so far. The crashing waves look almost mesmerizing in certain levels and look even better when you surf through a closing barrel.  There are also plenty of eye-catching details, such as swooping seagulls and other paddling surfers that add more that what could have been just an ordinary setting.


Still there isn’t much more to the visuals and the most awkward part of the game’s graphics is the actual surfer.  The surfers hardly look like the actual surf pro, but the most upsetting part of this is the fact that they aren’t rendered with enough detail to set them apart.  Also there are times when the surfer seems to be missing a nose.


Like many sports titles available, the game comes complete with quite a wide-ranging variety of songs and even soundtracks.  The music is a collection of instrumental surf-inspired tunes, hip-hop, progressive and even thrashing rock tunes of the Sum 41 kind. And the best part is that gamers can change the soundtrack anytime during the game. This goes well with the good sound effects that echo with the authentic sounds of the waves and even things such as the Reef Girls that yell out things such as “I don’t mind picking you up, cutie.”


Four multiplayer games (up to four players can join in using the PS2 Multitap) are also available and they are worthy features in their own right. King Of The Wave has gamers challenging one another to see who can remain standing on a wave much longer.  Meanwhile Free Surf and Competition offer the same things the single player option offers with the exception that now you can add a friend. But the most interesting game is the Shark Tag where a tagged player turns into a shark and will remain as such until he “tags” another player.


Transworld Surf comes close to being an excellent surfing title since all the right elements are present and accounted for, however small annoyances in graphics and challenge difficulties can become just a bit irritating.  Still, the game still offers enough punch to keep surfing fans and sports lovers happy.


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


 Gameplay: 8.1
Luckily the basic controls in this game are somewhat easy to master and there is nothing that can’t be learned with just a few tries of the Free Surf play or the Single Session option.  The Pause Menu can offer up the controls and a few tricks on the fly or gamers can read through the instruction manual that goes into the more complicated tricks in detail.


Basically the tricks range from quick ollies to dangerous floaters and they can be executed fairly easy, but performing the more difficult tricks require much patience and many tries.  There’s even a button that will call a Reef Girl (a bikini-clad girl riding a Jet Ski) to lead you to the waves when you don’t feel like paddling out towards them.


Graphics: 7.9
Without a doubt, Transworld Surf has the best looking wave effects seen in a surfing game--or any PS2 title for that matter--so far.  The crashing waves and curling barrels are mixed in with the frothy foam as it crashes down on the surfer.  When far from a wave, the surfer paddles on a rushing current that really is quite a spectacle to behold.


The surfers themselves are rendered quite adequately, although they lack certain key details such as expressions or sometimes even a nose.  There is much to look at in the game such as bobbing buoys, other surfers and the occasional wild sea life (such as dolphins or sharks) that add more detail into what could sometimes be a rather plain-looking and familiar setting.


Sound: 9.5
What the game lacks visually it makes up with superb sound quality.  An extensive collection of songs--and soundtracks--can be found throughout the game and can be quickly changed in the Pause Menu.  Aside from the usual Blink 182 styled tunes, there’s hip-hop and progressive trance tunes (not to mention catchy surf tunes) thrown into the mix.  All of this makes for an excellent soundtrack during play.


The sound effects are also done quite nicely, with the sounds of the crashing surf the most noticeable effect.  However, there are little things that can be also heard throughout the game such as the clinking bells of the buoys, other surfers shouting out and the angry seagulls you scare off the surface. There’s also fantastic introductory information called out ESPN-style when you choose surfers and before the action begins.


Difficulty: Medium
Despite the fact that there is no difficulty settings, the game’s challenges can be a little too hard to complete in some modes.  Certain modes require that the gamer complete a set of challenges before the timer runs out (and it does run out rather quickly). The goals are not impossible but can prove to be frustrating since gamers have to start all over again if they fail even one challenge.


Concept: 7.8
Originally an Xbox title, Transworld Surf actually plays much better on the PS2 even though it still incorporated all of the same key elements.  Being able to choose from thirteen pro surfers such as Shane Dorian or Rochelle Ballard with their own individual style, tricks and even videotaped bios is always welcome.  And the fact that there are various locales and time of day to surf through is also what sets this game apart.


The game also follows a competition, which requires gamers to fulfill a certain challenge before they are able to continue--an element in surf titles that have been seen before.  However, the difference is that the challenges themselves are quite unique: in one you have to scare off seagulls or show off in front of the camera.


Multiplayer: 8.0
Thankfully the game added four excellent multiplayer games (King Of The Wave, Free Surf, Competition and Shark Tag) with an option to play with up to four players using the Multitap. The most interesting--and really fun--multiplayer game is Shark Tag where gamers play an elaborate game of tag.


Overall: 8.0
Although far from being the greatest surfing title ever, Transworld Surf is by far the best one available.  Those gamers looking for a surf game with a healthy dose of rocking tunes, decent graphics and smooth controls to go with the great surfing action should definitely purchase this one or at least rent it.


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