Jeff Markiewicz On December 1, 2008 at 8:21 am

I must confess I have never gone snowboarding before; my expertise is limited to sitting on my butt and riding down on a little kids sled. The most impressive trick I can do is hitting a small bump, flying off the sled, and tumbling like a sack of potatoes down the rest of the hill. Therefore I must live my wilder fantasies in videogames.  Shaun White Snowboarding from Ubisoft Montreal is a new franchise and the commercial surely doesn’t disappoint but will the game succeed or will it follow in my sledding footsteps?

You start the game as a plain simpleton, snowboarding your worries away, when Shaun White and his posse take notice of you and set you off to collect money for his next big snowboarding trip. Your choice of a male or female character will dictate what follows and is purely my interpretation since the story is so slim. I chose a female character to just see how life is on the other side and the entire time it felt like Shaun White was hitting on my character. First he has a flamboyant personality which young kids will think is cool and girls will think is creepy. Secondly for no reason he took notice of me, is flying me around in his private airplane, giving me free helicopter rides, and showing me how to do neat tricks. But alas, this is not pertinent. The story is as simple as your beginnings. You start at the rock bottom, learn the lay of the mountain, and eventually rise to take on the mighty Shaun White himself. Barely enough to keep you going but gives you a sense of progression.

Before you can hit the slopes, you have to create your character. It is not that robust but you have the options of gender and a couple heads plus a little spending money so you’re not nude on the mountain. There are a ton of clothing options which are purely aesthetic but allow you to personalize your character. You can also purchase snowboards which have different statistics and come in three categories; freeride, freestyle, and park. For speed, jumps, and tricks respectfully. To earn your dinero you’ll have to enter competitions littered across the mountains and earn enough points to achieve one of the four tiers, each with an increasing amount of money. You can also redo the competitions to keep earning money on events you do well. This essentially means that those highly coveted boards with the spectacular statistics are yours only after a couple hours. After doing this, the game glitched and gave me $130 million to spend which literally allowed me to buy everything in the store. The variation in the competitions appears to be quite a lot but eventually become repetitive. They all fall into a variation of race, collect stuff, air and/or ground tricks. Coupled with the similarity of the mountains they get old quick. Also it is pretty easy to get out of the competitions which break some events. You’ll also be able to get out of the mountain map pretty easily. On the other side of the coin, to progress in the story you have to collect 12 tokens to progress nearly every time except for the last couple.  There are 3 tokens on each of the three mountains that you’ll have a love-hate relationship with. Sometimes they are uniquely placed and you’ll have a blast repeating it over and over trying to get them or you’ll have no focus left and it’ll be painfully frustrating because the meter takes so long to regenerate. Others you’ll slightly pass and have to walk for a long time to get to it. After each 12 you collect, you’ll hit up Shaun White and he’ll teach you a new trick and the fourth time he’ll enter you into a competition. This will constitute about 80% of the story. Meaning, you’ll have to collect 46 coins. The focus powers are cool and you’ll have to use them to get these coins. One will open up passageways, the second will give you a speed boost, and the third will allow you to leap over a building in a single bound. Unfortunately, the focus-meter bar takes so long to regenerate, you’ll likely not enjoy these that much.

The snowboard controls take a short while to get use to but once you do you’ll be doing flips, grabs, and jibs while flying down the mountain in no time. But that’s all you will be doing; flips, grabs, and grinding on various objects. This is a little too simplistic and coupled with the fact you’ll never use your focus powers for leisure or in competitions only compounds this issue. The d-pad, that has gotten such a bad rap on the Xbox 360 controller, is actually used really well in this game. You have access you mark and warp which you’ll use often as you search for coins and attempt to get them. Another direction allows you to control the in-game music player. The other two facilitate the seamless online multiplayer by allowing you to join or host an online game and once you’re in there to talk to everyone or just to people locally. In addition to warp, you can ride the ski lift or take a helicopter to get back to the top of the mountain. This is all well implemented and really quick by accessing the map with the back button and merely selecting which predefined spot you’re like go to. The radar will guide you to coins and events located. When you take the game online, it’ll also show where other players are located.

The transition to online is seamless. Use your fancy d-pad functionality or select play with friends from the pause menu, select where you want to play and you’re there. If you’re even on the same mountain there is no loading. It is as if you unpaused the game and continued playing. That is where the fun ends. This is like sledding with friends that are a mile away, you feel eerily alone. You can challenge the up to 15 other players to matches and stuff but sometimes they want to play, sometimes they do not. And with no way to quick spawn next to people, you’ll spend the entire time trying to find people. The map does not show the locations either so you have to rely on your compass which only shows the direction until you’re really close. This is really an online experience to play with friends. The lag or glitches were pretty bad. With three people in a challenge, somehow one person started a couple seconds early and others readily used shortcuts around the challenges that were not intended. Cool how seamless it is and how effortless it is to get into the game only to fall into a crevasse and trying to survive on a broken leg once you try to have fun with others.

Shaun White Snowboarding exists in a world of snowboarding bliss, well almost. The avalanches throw a kink in that but overall the world is pristine. The sun is always at high noon. The snow is always perfect. It never snows other than the couple snow machines. The problem is it is always the same for every mountain. They look the same and feel the same. There are some nice small touches like ancient buildings, a research center, and a plane crash amongst other things but they are too few and far between to make any significant impact on how similar everything looks. There is a fifth mountain if you purchase the game from Target but you won’t miss it. You can barely tell which mountain you’re on in the first place. On the flip side, the open world looks really nice. You have freedom to go pretty much anywhere you desire with multiple routes crisscrossing along the mountains. This is a pretty big issue with the shadows though, a lot of them are immensely blurred and they can be really disorienting until you get use to them. The models are quite mediocre looking and have that great of animations. Even the star of the show, Shaun White, doesn’t look that impressive. There is also some slight pop-in and aliasing to be seen but it is not that bad. Some graphical glitches are also present such as you and Shaun White riding on top of the helicopter. You’ll start of your snowboarding trip marveling at how nice everything looks but time rolls on, the lack of variation will start to drag on your experience.

When I am rolling down hills after monstrous crashes, I am usually moaning and groaning but in the world of Shaun White Snowboarding, my girl barely makes a peep after a big bone breaking crash. The crashes don’t even sound that catastrophic, even if you fall into a crevasse to your assumed death. Even the small ones like running into something sounds kind of cheesy. On the other hand, the voice acting is pretty good with Shaun White pulling most of the weight. His personality seems uninhibited by his translation into the game. The other minor roles of Shaun’s posse are well done and give them a nice touch of personality. The announcers have even been infused with some personality too but they get repetitive quick not to mention they are barely in the game. The music selection in the game is quite good with several classics and indie songs that will keep you listening for hours. They do become slightly repetitive but you enjoy listening to most of them and with full control of what is playing, you can quickly switch from a less than stellar song if the call arises. Your crashes and general running into objects may seem insignificant but the voice acting and music selection gives it a small lift above mediocrity.

Despite my lack of technical snowboarding knowledge, I am still going to clinch to my trusty sled instead of Shaun White Snowboarding. It was a fun ride; there was a couple falls that would have killed me. Well more than a couple. But after playing through a bunch of repetitive competitions, my love-hate relationship with collecting coins, and Shaun White hitting on my female character, my enjoyment started to wane. The game is just too similar and too easy. Within a few hours you have already collected the top boards and hence money is no longer a beacon of progression. Going through tedious coin collection to get some nice power-ups is further marred by the eons it takes the focus bar to regenerate. The open world is lovely but the fact that everything looks the same deteriorates the experience. The voiceovers are quite nice along with the accompaniment of nice tunes but they do get slightly repetitive after a while. If you’re itching for a snowboarding game, don’t hesitate to go out and rent this game. You’ll get a couple fun hours out of it but like left out bread, it gets old quick.


Not much of a story other than Shaun White taking notice and teaching you stuff. Gameplay feels good once you get a handle on it and is a lot of fun. Open world is nice but frequent walking gets tedious. Focus meter takes way too long to regenerate. The world and events get repetitive quick and nothing of substance to keep you going. Bugs are common and can even break some of the competitions. Online is seamless but feels lonely with no way to immediately warp to your friends other than invite them to events.


You’ll start of your snowboarding trip marveling at how nice everything looks but time rolls on, the lack of variation will start to drag on your experience. The models and animations look mediocre. Some slight pop-in and aliasing are present. Blurred shadows can be disorienting.


Crashes and running into things sounds quite dull. Voice talent is pretty good with Shaun White’s personality shining and supporting roles having a nice dab of personality. The music selection is a compilation of classic and indie songs that will keep you listening for hours.


Shaun White Snowboarding never quite gets off the ground. Everything looks and feels the same even though the world is huge with tons of events populating four mountains. The snowboarding, while fun is a little too simplistic. The focus powers try to add some depth but you’ll never want to use them because the meter takes forever to regenerate. There are a couple fun hours to be had here but the experience doesn’t last long.

Comments are closed.