|Publisher: Ubisoft Genre: Sports
|Min OS X: 10.4 CPU: Intel RAM: 999 MB Hard Disk: 7200 MB
Thankfully, even with all of its problems and its clunky interface, Shaun White Snowboarding is still quite fun. There are enough events to give you regular challenges, there's a story mode where you can collect items to move the plot along, and there are enough things to buy and unlock to keep it interesting for a while. It may not be amazing, but it is pretty solid.
You might notice an unusual number of dangerous objects on the way down the mountain, though. There are trees lying down, thin branches that can somehow hold your weight without bending, metal rails, fellow snowboarders (NPC-controlled or your friends), and a few buildings at some points. All of these can be used for grinding or jump tricks somehow, which can lead to interesting conversations with your kids when you bring them into snowboarding in real life.
It does bring up a couple interesting questions about how the developers view snowboarders. Your personal skill doesn't matter, just the quality of your snowboard? It's perfectly fine to win a race by snowballing your opponents? Snowboarders grind just as easily as skateboarders and have rails spread throughout their mountain trails? It ends up pretty funny if you think about it, but it does seem necessary for the gameplay. If you were restricted to grinding in the tiny building areas, you'd hardly get any practice with the way the mountains are set up, after all.
Graphically, everything looks very good, if you don't mind a glitch or two when walking uphill. Everything is rendered in layers, with the snowboarders leaving trails in the snow, avalanches cracking the ice underneath you, snowballs flaking pieces of snow, and the snowboarders looking very detailed up close. So long as you're not looking far enough away to see everything go up in detail, you'll never see a break in the environment.
However, if you have a slower computer, you'll probably end up noticing a few things. The snowboards leave trails that just don't look real when walking uphill, the faraway terrain will occasionally have a line that has high-detail textures below it and low-detail textures above it, the camera sometimes gives you a bad angle for viewing where you're headed, and the overall look isn't that good on the lowest graphic settings. If you're able to live with that, however, it's not really a problem.
The sound is also excellent, with numerous music tracks (most of which aren't too loud and screechy), plenty of ambient noises, lots of different sounds for the menus and snowboarding, and a few voice actors for the story sequences. It's all high-quality stuff, with nothing that really annoys you repeatedly. You might want to skip certain music tracks, but that's to be expected with the number of songs you can listen too.
Overall, Shaun White Snowboarding is a pretty good conversion of the sport of snowboarding to game form. It's entertaining, beautiful, and its many annoyances are mainly due to the control schemes, not the game itself. If you're willing to buy yourself a gamepad, it can give you dozens of hours of quality entertainment. At $30, you can definitely do worse.
Pros• Unlockable content
• Customizable character
• Multiplayer options
Cons• Not laptop friendly
• Time-wasting travel mechanics