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Surf World Series

Posted by GG Goblin On September - 8 - 2017

Catching some waves.

While everything I know about surfing may have come from movies such as Point Break, I did spend my misspent youth attached to a skateboard and dropping in from scary high half pipes. Those days may be long behind me, but I still hold a fondness for all manner of extreme sports and fantasize about one day heading out into the surf, never to be seen again, much like Bodhi.


Hey, that’s not going to happen. But when Climax Studios announced Surf World Series, my interest was piqued. While there are still a couple around, the extreme sports game genre has all but disappeared in recent years, so any new title would be welcome. But this one is about surfing, possibly the most difficult extreme sport to base a game around (I am not counting extreme ironing as a sport). I mean, all you do is float along on a wave, right?

Well, it turns out to be a little more involved than that. And to learn the ropes, Surf World Series provides a hearty tutorial mode set in a training pool. Yeah, a training pool. Do these things even exist? If so, I need to find one as they look like enormous fun, and have no risk of running foul of sea life.

I digress. The training pool rolls waves around every couple of seconds, and the game explains everything that the player will need to know to become a bona fide surf god. Starting with the basics of paddling and then standing up, which all comes down to timing by the way and is surprisingly easy to mess up, players will quickly find themselves riding the waves. It then explains how to catch air, grab the board and quick turn. This will start racking up the points, although for the big score you need the big tricks. These are achieved by first filling a gauge by performing simple moves and not falling over. Once enough of the gauge is filled, the player can pre-load tricks by pressing button combinations before they launch themselves from the top of the wave. Once they launch, the trick is performed, and they are spectacular.


The tutorial doesn’t stop there. It also imparts more knowledge on the player, such as how to ride in the wave, which brings a different view and challenges the player to keep their balance, and how to perform combos to amass truly impressive scores. I must admit that after only a few of the tutorials I was desperate to get to the beach and break out my mad surfing skills. The tutorials do a great job, but the stop start nature and bland training pool setting does begin to drag. So, off to the beach I go.

Players can compete in events at some of the most spectacular beaches around the world, from Brazil to Australia, and boy, do they look gorgeous. As someone who lives in miserable England, just spending some time playing this game and taking in these beautiful scenes was enough to recharge my batteries. The best thing is that the waves at these beaches all feel different, offering a variety of challenges on top of whatever the player is trying to achieve for the actual event. The events themselves are staggered, with players starting at the bottom rung as a mere novice before working their way up to being a master surfer. The events are plentiful and become more and more difficult as the player progresses, offering plenty of challenge.


Outside of the main events, there are plenty of different activities for the player to spend some time with. An online mode takes the surfing competition to other players, while a selection of different single player modes provide some variety and a chance to practice. For more practice time, or simply some relaxing surf time, there is free surf. Players are also able to tweak their on-screen persona with some customization options through the outfit and the board itself, with more options unlocked as play progresses.

The biggest problem with Surf World Series is the limited scope of the game. A game that involves itself solely with surfing is always going to be limited, due to the fact that your only real location is a wave, no matter the backdrop, and your only real task is performing tricks on that wave. Even with a skateboarding game, which is perhaps the closest successful comparison, you have the chance to explore, different lines to plot and even things to collect in a level. Here, in a surfing game, there is just the wave.


But for some people, that will be enough. Surf World Series can be quite the zen-like experience. There is something quite calming about it, despite the possible frustrations of not achieving goals in competition. Someone awesome once said that surfing is a way of life, and if that life is something that you aspire to, Surf World Series is the videogame equivalent. Catch some gnarly waves before heading out of the house and into the rain.




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