While Shaun White’s first foray into video games with Shaun White Snowboarding was a decent effort, his second outing fails amid a hoard of design errors and unoriginal gameplay mechanics. Shaun White Skateboarding might show small signs of life early on, and diehard fans of the red-headed extreme sports star might be able to cling on to random moments of shallow enjoyment, but ultimately, this is a title that fails to nail the landing.
One of the biggest problems with Shaun White Skateboarding is that it doesn’t allow you to actually play as Shaun White. The game’s narrative (yes, it has a story) makes hardly any sense, but a sport game’s plot is never going to compromise its overall quality anyway. That said, the inclusion of an “evil government” that has imprisoned Shaun White for whatever reason is a weak attempt by developer Ubisoft Montreal to provide incentive to care about your own created character. As you have a main objective – to save Shaun — you’re supposed to care about your own character, despite the fact this game is called Shaun White Skateboarding.
A majority of the time you’ll be skating around the life-less and colour-less world, pulling of skateboarding tricks to bleed emotion back into the government-controlled world. Initially, Shaun White Skateboarding is actually pretty fun. The downside is that it never really evolves throughout the experience, meaning you essentially do the same trick, achieving the same animated effect, over and over again. It gets old really quickly, which is a shame because the initially impression is one of enjoyment.
Shaun White Skateboarding tries to distance itself from other games in the genre by introducing the shaping feature, something that allows you to edit and extend rails. While the game promotes that you can change a rail any way you want, the main objective is to reach a pre-determined end-point, meaning you are forced to extend the rail in a specific direction. No matter how badly this game wants you to think you can be creative, it’s anything but, instead of blinding us from the simplistic nature of its editing functionality.
As for the skateboarding, it seems to be secondary, which is strange. Everything that is happening in the world, including the moronic plot, takes priority over the actual skateboarding elements. The gameplay itself is basic and fairly accessible, and while fans of the genre might find some pleasure in the core mechanics, this isn’t a game that’s going to challenge you. The skateboarding mechanics are implemented in a similar way to EA’s Skate franchise, although far less complex. The right analog stick is used to perform a move, with a flick in any two directions pulling off a trick. The good thing is that there’s a whole bunch of different tricks you can perform on your skateboard, and while not overly original or inventive, the game has the basics down straight.
There’s a number of objectives throughout the game you’ll have to complete to progress, most of which are boring and seem rather pointless. Most of the time you’re cleaning the city of government propaganda or pigeons, and most of the objectives aren’t executed very well. They all seem forced as if they need to be there in order to progress the story. The funny thing is, Shaun White Skateboarding doesn’t actually feel like a skateboarding game, a weird feeling that needs to be experienced to be believed. It’s as if the main goal of the game during development was lost, and the final product is a game that doesn’t know what it is.
There’s a multiplayer component, but it doesn’t offer all that much more in terms of gameplay when compared to the story mode. There’s no statistical analysis after a game, which is ridiculous, removing any sense of achievement or incentive to go back online. Multiplayer is supposed to encourage people to compete against one another, and Shaun White Skateboarding fails miserably at that.