Videogames related to the ‘’SK8T LYFE’’, have been around for decades. Whether they were relying on arcade control schemes such as the Tony Hawk Series, or on more serious and complex analogue stick-centric methods like the Skate series. They always had one thing in common, and it’s the fact that all SK8T’ing games were all about skateboards. Yes, we had a number of anomalies in the form of SSX series, and Dave Hoffman’s Pro BMX titles, but even then, all these games were all about performing tricks on the solid ground. However, it looks like for the first time, in a very long time, this trend has been broken, as Surf World Series is looking to dethrone the titles of old, and become the next great SK8T game.
Surf World Series, is as the name suggests, a title about professional surfing competitions. And despite of the fact that it is taking place on water, it borrows a lot from titles such as Tony Hake Pro Skater 4, and Skate 3. And this is because it combines the arcade control schemes of old, with the more accurate simulation-like control methods of today. And throughout, it invites the player to use both the precision of analogues, and the true and tested face-buttons.
In game, you can move around the waves using the left analogue stick, and depending on your placement and momentum, you can perform different tricks, using just the analogue stick. For example, by moving the left stick downwards, and then abruptly upwards, you force the surfer to gain moment, just before launching him or her into the air. And while above the wave, you can abandon the precise control of the analogue sticks and refer to the face-buttons. And that’s because in-air, after pressing either of the buttons, you can perform a grab. However, the complexity of this mechanic doesn’t end there, as there is whole another layer to the tricks’ system.
Before attempting a jump, player can also alter the in-air rotation of the surfer by pressing either of the bumpers. And in combination with a face-button related trick, one can execute a 360-degree grab, if he/she performs the combination correctly. And that’s not all, there is also an array of special tricks which can be executed once player fills in, what I like to call, the hype meter. And once one secures two or more bars on the four-bar meter, he/she can execute a complex, SSX Tricky-like manoeuvre with the surfer removing himself from the board. However, all the special tricks can be difficult to execute, as they require three-to-four button combinations, and if executed too late, end in no action, and if executed too early, they end in a failure.
Surf World Series, just like your Tony Hawks and SSXs is all about the tricks. And fortunately, this side of the Surf World Series is nailed to a T. As there is enough to keep both amateurs and pros satisfied, as the multi-layered structure of the title, allows for a relatively low entry level, and ultimately, a satisfyingly high skill ceiling. But in this day and age, fun and or rewarding gameplay is simply not enough, as it is also important to pack the mechanical portions of the title, into an exciting and recognisable packaging. And Surf World Series, just like the recently released LawBreakers suffers from the same issues related to bland visuals, mundane premise, and lack of any marketable features.
When writing this review, I had to double check the name of this title to make sure that it is in fact Surf World Series. As in space of an hour I forgot whether it was Surf World Tour, Surf World Championship, or Surf World Challenge – and that’s because this particular title is simply dull. The surfing mechanic is acceptable and fun, but to a point. And within an hour, it simply becomes stale and unexciting. And one could argue that the in-game unlocks system does enough to keep one engaged for hours, but unfortunately all the in-game unlocks are simply boring.
From Bermuda shorts to surfing boards, all in-game items are nothing more than unnecessary clutter. Because no matter what pattern is used, or in fact what colour, all in game items will be all but generic. And it doesn’t matter if you have ten million pairs of shorts, or eighty different characters, because if they are all prosaically monotone, then they will simply be overlooked by all who will play the title at hand. And Surf World Series, may have an impressive number of challenges and an endless wave mode, but ultimately, it does nothing to keep on invested into itself.
In-short, Surf World Series is nothing more than a cheaper, sports oriented version of LawBreakers. It is mechanically sound, displays a reasonable level of competence, and some will surely find it to be incredibly fun and exciting. But when the push comes to shove, and other, much more intriguing titles enter the picture, Surf World Series simply doesn’t do enough to hold one in its grip, and most will likely abandon it after a single session. And if you are not a hardcore fan of the sport itself, you should wait for it to go down in price, as anything above the standard £9.99, is simply too much for this particular title.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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