STAFF REVIEW of ESPN Winter X Games Snowboarding 2002 (Xbox)

Monday, April 1, 2002.
by Queasy Buddy

ESPN Winter X Games Snowboarding 2002 Box art Boarders (a cast 13 of the top snow boarders including Todd Richards) can pull off quite a few tricks, from Back-flips and Mctwist 720s to Stale Fish Airs and nose grabs and several different grinds. The trick system itself is considerably simple. Thanks largely to the fact that players can pull off combo-tricks. The spins are also simple to pull off. By simply holding Left or Right in conjunction with the A button, boarders will continuously spin through the air limited only by the ground beneath them. Pulling off a 1080 is a piece of cake. In addition, best of all, it is perfectly possible to manipulate a 1080 and follow it up with a nose grab before dropping back down to the ground. Winter X snowboarding, especially by comparison Amped, moves at a wicked fast pace. If a boarder crashes, it is manageably easy to regain all sensation of speed. The idea behind the winter X snowboarding snowboarder mode is undeniably the most desirable feature in this game. You will live out the simulated career of a boarder you have created. Your boarder will travel to the world?s best and biggest mountains and train to become the best of the best. Your ultimate goal as a boarder will be to reach and win the ultimate competition, the X games. You will be able to create your own legend in the world of snow boarding by singing your boarder in different events you will be competing in. The numerous events you can attend in are four real X games events: Big air, Superpipe, boardercross and slopestyle. My favourite is the slopestyle event because you can freestyle your boarder through a course pulling off tricks and racking up points on big kickers, twisted rails and wild pipes. The more tricks successfully manoeuvred, the more points a player receives. However, a time clock continuously counts down as a player races. Winter X snowboarding duel-player mode offers good one-on-one vs. racing at a smooth frame rate, and helps a little to extend the game's replay value.

What makes a good snowboarding game? Many would say lots of speed, many tricks and the ability to catch treetop air. Xbox?s winter X games, Snowboarding has all of the above in great abundance, but players must master the game's controls and learning curve before the real fun begins. Oddly enough, this game is actually quite easy to master though tricks must be performed precisely and landings timed just right or a potentially impressive stunt could lead to a board-breaking disaster. Players control their boarder with the left analog stick or the D-pad as he/she races down the slopes. Holding and then releasing the A button performs a Ollie. Various tricks, including grabs, 180 and 360 airs, can be performed using a combination of the X button. Pressing down on the right analog stick will perform a one footer. When the boarder grinds you don?t have a balance meter like Tony Hawk?s pro skater or Dave Mirra?s freestyle BMX which sometimes seems to easy to do but when the game difficulty advances you will appreciate this feature. You can also do different grabs by holding A and X together. The spins are also easy to execute just by holding a direction with the analog or some might prefer the D-pad and taping A you will start to do a spin. You can decide when to stop the spin in mid air. You can also do grabs while executing a spin by pressing X or A or both of them at the same time. Of course, each stunt (or crash) is enhanced with the great timing of the Xbox?s built in Rumble Pak.

Quite simply, this is the most beautiful snowboarding game ever created. Nothing compares -- nothing. The development team should be applauded for Winter X snowboarding effects, which vary from course to course. The game's lens-flair is the best and most realistic we have ever seen (and we've seen this effect way too many times); it actually decreases in size (mimicking reality) when partially blocked by a tall mountain or hill. The skies always portray a different shade of day (or night), various weather conditions (including storms) and even beautiful, orange sunsets that illuminate the snow. Speaking of the snow, it looks even better than the surrounding environments, and it varies throughout tracks. Powdered snow, for example, sprays up a thick haze of snow-dust behind a boarder, where as ice reflects characters. When a player makes a sharp curve, the boarder will actually balance himself by putting his hand into the snow and it leaves trails! The game looks fantastic and the frame rate, which rarely slows down, only compliments the eye-candy. Because each track offers loads of depth and visibility, pop-ups of mountains or jumps are occasional, but not a problem. In addition, sometimes a character will give-off a shadow where there should be none. The characters themselves are stylish and unique. Most of the boarders wear beanies, baggy pants, goggles and a thick jacket. Truly, the look of the X-Games. It?s a realistic and refreshing change brought into the world of Xbox.

Winter X sounds great. Listen to the music in the game and I think you'll agree with me. It has some of the coolest tunes from some of the freshest bands like Offspring, Half !&%$@#* ed, Saliva, Randy, Jurassic 5, Static-X, 311, The !&%$@#* ed, Afi and several others. The sound effects are also a big step up from Amped, with varied snow and ice noises and plenty of voice work. The Southern-Cal announcer gives out some interesting background information about the pro snowboarder. But he also calls the tricks executed a bit late and can get a bit grating when he says the same comments over and over, but you can adjust volumes in the sound menu to your liking. The game is a shining example of what can be achieved on the format of given time. But they should?ve put the option of playing the users personal soundtrack because listening to the same tracks over and over can get really boring after a while but other then that the sound is great. When you grind the sound FX are good. Sometimes when a boarder crashes, you can hear a slight moan of pain, which brings a bite more realism to the gameplay. When the announcer introduces you and when you win a competition, you can hear the fans rutting for you.

Xbox?s Winter X-Games Snowboarding 2002 is a remarkable game and my hat is off to the big 'X.'. With a handful of unique tracks, air-make and half-pipe modes, two-player support, an ultra-realistic look with spectacular graphics and tons of tricks, jumps, and air there is a lot of fun to be had with this game. I only wish you could play your own soundtrack. Still, snowboarding fanatic or not, you must own this game.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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