There are a lot of snowboarding games coming out and they’re all competing to distinguish themselves as the coolest virtual sport around. Most seem like just another clone of the others and originality seems to be lacking. But most don’t have the talented developers of Pitbull Syndicate, makers of the great Test Drive 4 and 5. So did this expertise pay off and put Big Air as the king of the Snowboard genre?
Let me save you the suspense: the answer is an unequivocal no. This game is so bad that it is hard to know where to start, so let’s just take it from the top. The game allows you to select from the standard snowboard smorgasbord with the half-pipe, freeride race, freeride trick, boardercross and its namesake, big air.
The half-pipe is what you’d expect, but unfortunately the freeride race and freeride trick are lackluster. The scenery is pretty boring and it appears that they occasionally threw in a tree, curve or rock to try to inject a little excitement. Unfortunately it doesn’t work and when you’re racing down the slopes it’s an uneventful trip, despite the 30 "unique" courses in six international locations.
The namesake Big Air is a short straight course with a jump at the end and a long drop to the bottom. The idea of course is that you can try some nifty tricks while in the air, like a flip or two. This is fun except that it only takes five seconds to finish the course and then you have to wait 15 seconds while the same course re-loads. It really seems like they could have figured out a way to allow the same course to re-load faster so that you’d have more time perfecting those difficult tricks that can wow your friends. They did an okay job of making some of the tricks easy and others hard to master, with the highest points being awarded to the tricky combos. Eventually I was able to do most the tricks although there were a couple that still eluded me despite trying multiple times (maybe if I had more time to try tricks instead of waiting for the course to re-load… okay, okay…. I’ll try not to beat a dead horse).
The game seems to try too hard at being "cool" and not concentrating on game-play. Of course, if you don’t mind terrible gameplay and are infinitely more interested in the coolness factor, then you’re in luck. Big Air has licensed some of the snowboard apparel and snowboard manufacturer big boys, with the likes of Quicksilver, K2, Saloman, Arnette, Burton, Joyride Snowboards and more. This allows a large selection of different boards and clothing and is one of the few bright sides here. They also licensed some snowboarding stars, but since all you see is the back of their heads it’s not really a big thrill.
Graphics & Music
The graphics are definitely not the best out there, but they’re not horrible either. The biggest disappoint is in the unimaginative course design and the slow loading times for the various courses.
The music isn’t the type I usually listen to, but it’s not all that bad either. The back of the instruction booklet identifies the bands as Andalusia, Blink 182, Caustic Notions, Diesel Boy, Gangster Fun, Leatherface, Limp, Monkey, The Odd Numbers and Snuff. From the names you can kind of get the picture that the sounds are on the harder side with some grunge rock thrown in. If you don’t like what you hear, the developers graciously put in an option to turn the soundtrack off.
Big Air is a disappointing game by some very talented developers. Although this game could have distinguished itself as the king of the snowboard genre, it instead accepts the label of just another snowboard clone. Pass up on renting this one unless you’re a hardcore snowboard fan.
Download Big Air
Since there's an extreme shortage of snowboarding video games on the market right now (wink wink), Accolade is giving us Big Air. Developed by Pitbull Syndicate, Big Air is a licensing monster. The game features 80 real snowboards (from nine licensed companies). 10 musical bands (including our friend Diesel Boy), seven clothing manufacturers, five real-life professional snowboarders and one partridge in a pear tree. Big Air is due out in March.
Big Air enters the PlayStation snowboarding scene with tons of options, over 30 courses in six countries, and a wide assortment of competitions: Halfpipe, Big Air, Boardercross, Slalom, and Freeride. Shredders will also find solo or two-player competitive play, six snowboarders, customizable clothing, and over 80 snowboards.
Nevertheless, this impressive assortment doesn't make up for a lackluster experience. The graphics are grainy and formless, while recurring backgrounds are a downer. The controls are adequate, but analog Is a must. Original songs on the soundtrack are interesting, but sound effects are at a minimum. Overall, Big Air is full of big potential, yet provides only average gaming satisfaction.
- Tap the brakes and take the inside of high turns for better control.
- When doing combos, attempt the grab after pulling off a spin.
Accolade's cooking up some killer snowboarding action that might just become the first PlayStation game to match the excellence of the N64's 1080 Snowboarding. Big Air starts shreddin' with 90 licensed boards, 30 courses with branching pathways, 40 tricks, and a huge soundtrack of over 20 punk and ska tunes. One or two boarders race in Boardercross (mo-tocross-style obstacle-laden action), Free Ride, Halfpipe, Slalom, and Big Air modes. The runs are set in six countries, including Canada, the U.S., and Switzerland; victories earn you a plane ticket to different countries, and, ultimately, the right to race against real-life pros, such as Boardercross champ Shaun Palmer. Although there are a torrent of snowboarding games heading to store shelves this year, Big Air stands out from the pack with an older, more realistic style, tight handling, and clean, eye-catching tracks.