STAFF REVIEW of Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer (Xbox)

Friday, December 20, 2002.
by l Maximus l

Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer Box art Hangin' Ten has never been so fun...atleast not in a video game. Overall, Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer is both very fun and challenging. It's easy for beginners and challenging enough for players that are of high skill, like yours truly ;o) But, seriously, this ranks as the best surfing game I've played in years and is arguably the best surfing game to date. But, I must warn you, if you are looking for a game reminscient to "Tony", this isn't quite the game for you. This is surfing, which is, obviously, a completely different sport than that of skateboarding or in-line skating. However, I must say this, due to the fact that skating is a more versatile sport than surfing, this may hinder the replayibility of Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer.

Kelly Slater is a very easy game to get into. All you have to do is spend a few minutes going through the game's tutorial and you will be hangin' ten in no time. All the controls make perfect sense in this game and it is likely that the developers paid special attention to this. The "b" button is used as your grabs as well as acheiving tighter turning during face turns. Keep in mind that you are riding a wave, which is a horizontal plane; therefore, you are limited only to move up and down. This limits the number of moves you can do, especially if you are used to playing Tony Hawk games. All of the buttons are used as air moves and then they change when you go into a tube. When you are riding in a tube, it's like almost playing a completely different game. The game shifts into a special mode that was created with tube surfing in mind. The camera will change to a fixed position behind you. You will have to keep balance and maintain speed to keep from being plowed over by the humongous wave. Overall, the gameplay is great and truly feels natural from the very moment you touch your bare feat to your board.

The graphics are great! Let's first discuss the waves: They waves roll very fluidly and look very natural. It truly is a site to see and is, personally, one of my favorite things about the game. Also, in the background you'll expect populated beaches, boats, planes, and sometims you can look out over the ocean for miles. The developers really out did themselves on this, especially considering that these are graphical details of real life beaches! Expect to watch a video before surfing the salty waters of each beach you are going to conquer. The surfers look great and also move very fluid and make for great depictions of their real life counterparts. It's noteworthy to mention that each pro surfer has their own style of surfing and this is also reflected very well as you see each one riding the tide. And, hey, while I am at it, even the character models are nicely detailed, even showing minor subtleties.

Ah yes...The crashing sounds of the ocean are amazing, especially considering this game supports 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. I won't get into too much detail about this, but, when you play this game, listen closely when your surfer wipes out! As for the soundtrack, it definately is not one you'll want to cruise down a night strip on the town or head bang with all your might. It's more of a kind of "new age beach lovin'" kinda thing. But, seriously, the soundtrack truly sets a perfect mood for the game and was very well done when the developers selected the tunes. Hell, I think I found myself humming one of the songs hours after I played the game.

Overall, great work! This is probably the best surfing game to date. The cut movies are very well done, but, it would have been a tad better if there was some cut scenes about the Pro Surfer's life and maybe some of their experiences at certain beaches...maybe even cut scenes from actual footage of the real pros on that beach. And, definately give us a sequel!

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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