You are gonna get wet.
Extreme sports in video games really took off with the emergence of the first Tony Hawk game. Since then, almost every extreme sport of note has had its video game equivalent, with the majority following one of two well used formulas. The games would either offer an open level, in which the player is free to explore, or a fixed path, both of which will offer a variety of objectives. Completion of at least some of these objectives will unlock the next area or level. Should it be skateboards, BMXs, Skates, surfboards, scooters, mountain bikes, snowboards or skis, the formula is pretty much the same.
So, it will come as no surprise to hear that Wakeboarding HD, on PS3 from Creat Studios, sticks to this tried and tested way of doing things. Wakeboarding, for those who don’t know, is a cross between water skiing and surfing, with a bit of snowboarding thrown in for fun. The wakeboarder is towed along at speed, by a motorboat, on a board. They can then perform tricks using the wake left behind by the boat, or pre built ramps.
The player gets to choose a character to represent them within the game. Although the choice has absolutely no bearing on how the game plays, it allows the player to at least choose a representation that matches their own sense of style, as long as that style is extreme water sports dude. After completing the tutorial levels, which do a good job of explaining how to control your board and the intricacies of pulling tricks, the player will be presented with a map containing a selection of different levels. To begin with, new levels must be unlocked by completing given objectives in the previous levels. However, as each new level is unlocked, it is possible to go back to any previously played level and attempt a better score, or even finish incomplete objectives.
Playing the game is fairly simple. The speedboat will pull the wakeboarder along a fixed course, with the player having to choose the line within this course. There will be many obstacles to move around, jump over or even utilise along the way. Pulling tricks, jumps, grinds, collecting stars and even hitting certain items will build a chain, which will be broken should the player wipe out. Some of the objectives that must be achieved include simple to understand things like collecting a certain number of stars, or finishing the level with a certain combo multiplyer. The more bizarre, yet strangely easier, challenges include leaping over giant ducks, smashing the roofs on beachside shacks or knocking girls from their Lilos. Either way, each level offers plenty to do.
The most difficult part of the game is choosing a line. The very nature of being pulled along by a boat makes judging the upcoming scenery rather difficult, especially when approaching corners, and being caught on random bits of fence, statues or trees can be frustrating. But, as with all games of this type, practice and learning the courses will make life a lot easier. Should the player want to spend the time perfecting their skills in an arcade title however, is another matter.
No one can deny that the game looks great. With the wonderful effects of the water and the lush tropical setting, it is certainly a game that will make the player yearn for the summer, or at least a decent holiday. WakeBoarding HD is, however, an arcade game and, as such, has passed on the realistic physics and true to life collision detection. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I am not sure how much could be done with a Wakeboarding simulator, and the giant ducks would have to go.
Wakeboarding HD offers players a slice of paradise, in an easy to play package. Whilst not the deepest game in the world, and offering little variety across the different levels, the game is simple and fun, allowing the player a bit of escapism, which won’t tax the brain. Great pick up and play enjoyment.