|Review by Joe Santulli||Sony||Racing/Sports|
|Graphics: 8||Sound: 8||Gameplay: 9||Overall: 9|
Talk about being caught off-guard! I rented this game one night because most of the newer titles I wanted to try were out and Im a fan of racing games - figured it would be worth the price of rental. Of course, I had heard O.K. things about the first Coolboarders, but I wasnt thrilled with it. The original seemed somewhat stiff, like robots on ice, and there wasnt enough variety in the game for my tastes. Most game sequels surpass the original, so I expected an improved game.
That was almost three months ago, and I havent put the game away since. This has been the most unexpected surprise of the year for me. I went and purchased it after a night of non-stop freestyling (I hadnt even gotten into all of the other modes of play), but Ive seen nothing but lukewarm reviews ever since. I dont understand that. Many mags have criticized the games graphics, complaining about the "seams" in the snow. Yeah, there are seams. They look like hairline flashes that quickly streak across the screen from time to time. Funny, I think Ive seen this same problem in more critically acclaimed games like Twisted Metal 2. Reviewers may have mentioned it, but this quirk didnt hurt its overall score. So why knock Coolboarders 2 for its "seams"? It is such a minor quibble in a game that has so much to like!
What I like: most importantly, the overall sensation of speed, catching air, bailing out, and smashing into trees and rocks is perfect. Some courses have ice which makes you accelerate, causing snowboard control chaos. There are tunnels, trees, multiple paths, bridges, cliffs, and jumps across chasms. There are ten different downhill courses, all of which have their own personality (not just generic downhill runs), and a mirror mode to tackle once youve mastered them. There are four boarders with different skills, and three hidden ones (that I know of). Theres a freestyle downhill race where you can try to beat fastest times, highest trick point totals, or a combination of the two for each course, and the top three scores are saved to memory! Theres a trick jump course that helps train you but also scores you. Theres a half-pipe challenge, where you can put your tricks to the test. Theres a board park that lets you practice without competition. You can play two players head-to-head (this has been the source of many long gaming sessions with family and friends here at 44 Hunter) with several scoring and handicap options. Theres a "ghost mode" so you can race against yourself. You can play a competition tournament against 7 computer players, which alternates between trick and downhill competition. The music is very good, and you can adjust the volume for it if you dont like it. I adjust the announcers volume to zero, he gets a little annoying. For the artistically inclined, there is a board design mode - it isnt the greatest, but you can save your design and use your board anywhere. You can really see the board designs in the replay mode, which features multiple camera angles and is a very cool feature. I was able to fairly accurately draw the "Rotting Marys" logo (my volleyball team), how brilliant to be able to see it up close on some of the replays!
What I dont like: those seams. Damn, if they could have conquered those giant polygon slopes this would be perfection. As it stands, this graphic "glitch" knocks a point off of the score. You get used to it, but every once in awhile you notice the streak and wonder why the talented UEP Systems programmers couldnt get over that hurtle.
It has always been my duty as editor to inform you of games that are looked over, ignored, or otherwise underrated. Trust me on this one, Coolboarders 2 is a winner.
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