reviews\ Dec 19, 2001 at 7:00 pm

TransWorld Surf - XB - Review

Picture Tony Hawk's Pro Skater in your mind. Tell me, what do you see? I don't know about you, but the picture in my mind is one of fun and excitement. Now take away all of the pipes, ramps, fences in rails in the game and replace it with water. There are no moving cars to grind, no buildings to climb and no walls to ride -- just lots and lots of water. Suddenly, that picture of fun and excitement begins to look very dull and boring. After playing TransWorld Surf, I am happy to say that it is anything but dull and boring. However, it isn't exactly fun and exciting either...

TransWorld Surf tries hard to be Tony Hawk on the water, but for the most part it fails. Some people need to learn that the only game developer who can copy Tony Hawk and get away with it is Activision because they created the series! Plus, they do it better than anyone else (Mat Hoffman rocked, and Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer sounds very promising).

Infogrames claims that TransWorld Surf has "pick up and play" controls. The configuration is very familiar (hold down the A button to gain speed, then release it to jump). But the level you perform in is not on solid ground, making things a lot more difficult. You can't launch yourself into the air and expect to land safely as in Tony Hawk. Performing a stunt in that game is tough, but easy to land if you finish the trick in plenty of time. TransWorld Surf is much more frustrating because Infogrames has once again chosen realism over entertainment. Actually, Angel Studios are to blame because they're the ones who developed it. TransWorld Surf is entertaining, but landing on a wave is way too difficult for my tastes. I've been spoiled by Tony Hawk's seamless gameplay and I won't accept anything less. The waves are constantly moving, so you must line up the front or back of your surf board with the tip of the wave or else you'll crash, losing any points you had earned from performing a stunt. Unfortunately, this is a huge part of TransWorld Surf. You'll spend the majority of the time doing the exact same thing over and over again.

Graphically, TransWorld Surf is disappointing. The waves are bigger than anything seen on the PlayStation 2, but lack the smoothness of Splashdown. Particle effects are poorly used -- TransWorld Surf's splashes look cheap and dated. The Xbox is the most powerful console available, but Wave Race: Blue Storm has water effects far superior to this game. 2001 has been full of graphical advancements, and TransWorld Surf is a victim of this. Every effect in TS has been done better by another game (and on inferior consoles, no less).

Repetition has never been my cup of tea. TransWorld Surf isn't all bad, but there are more than a few problems that prevent it from being a really good game. Most of the Xbox games that I've played were way above average, so it would be impossible for me to score TransWorld Surf very high without feeling like the other games got screwed. Then again, an imperfect game doesn't become perfect just because there's nothing else to play. With that said, TransWorld Surf is good for a rental. If you're up to mastering the controls, then you might find this game to be worth a purchase, but either way I suggest that you rent it first to be safe.

#Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 7
TransWorld Surf is a pretty good game if you can get past the frustrating play mechanics, but it's not as long-lasting as Tony Hawk.

Graphics: 7 
This is probably the lowest I have ever scored an Xbox game, and it's mainly because TransWorld Surf's graphics are BELOW some games on the year-old PlayStation 2!

Sound: 7.9
While not as good as THPS, TransWorld Surf's music is mostly enjoyable.

Difficulty: 9
The difficulty rating wouldn't be high if TransWorld Surf wasn't so frustrating.

Concept: 6 
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater on water. Close in some respects, but the controls need a lot more work. Let's hope that Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer is more like the game that everyone loves to copy, and less like real surfing.

Multiplayer: 5.5
4-player modes are always nice, but it does little to enhance a game that is extremely frustrating to play.

Overall: 7
Sometimes boring and/or frustrating games become more appealing when there's nothing else to play. This isn't one of those times. Rent TransWorld Surf before making a purchase.


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