Triathlon from hell...
When it comes to sports games, I tend to shy away from the standard fare of
football, basketball, and hockey. Give me something different like BMX, skateboarding
or snowboarding and I'm all over it. Lucky for me, game developers are responding
to those of us with the urge to blast across the Himalayas on a snowboard or
ride over a Hawaiian lava flow on a quad.
Xtreme Sports presents itself in the shape of a triathlon, leaving competitors
to hone several skills at a time. Each race has three legs, each of which is
a different sport. You might find yourself bombing downhill on a snowboard,
then onto a speed glider, after which you let go and run as fast as you can
to your quad for a race to the finish line. I really like the variety, Mastering
just one sport won't guarantee you the gold.
This makes for a bit of difficulty regarding control adaptation. Upon switching
events, naturally, the control scheme changes - sometimes drastically. Snowboarding
has totally different controls than, say, mountain biking, so you must be quick
to change gears and go from slalom to pedaling in the blink of an eye. The unfortunate
part is that the CPU isn't holding a controller, so you might find yourself
fumbling for buttons while getting skunked.
To even the score, they threw in the Road Rash element, where you can
bash the player next to you with an elbow as they try to pass.
The graphics are smooth with decent textures. However, the character animations
are fairly minimal; they look nice, but get redundant. Des[ite different crashes,
your character always winds up in the same twitching, fetal position beneath
your board or bike.
The animations for the tricks are pretty cool, although again limited since
there aren't that many tricks. It must be hard to make any one of six different
events very complex, but there are relatively few tricks per event. A little
more depth would have been great..
of the events are gaming firsts. There's Speed Gliding, in which you grab hold
of a hang glider (gee, I didn't see any animation for buckling a safety harness...that's
even more extreme) and get pulled through a course of giant balloons by an airplane.
Then there's Bungee Jumping. I have been waiting for someone to translate this
insanity into a form that I might actually try, and now I can say I've done
it. Other events range from Sky Surfing to basics like mountain biking and snowboarding.
Having so much variation really helps.
Teaming up with a buddy means split-screen action all the way. I saw no graphical
suffering or noticeable slow-down. However, two player only lets you compete
in single event races, not the triathlon. Sort of defeats the purpose.
With only four selectable characters, you'd hope there were more to unlock...but
there aren't. There are some unlockable courses and power-ups which do offer
more possibilities, but in a game that has six events and eighteen different
courses, more characters would have been nice.
Xtreme Sports offers pretty graphics and varied gameplay, but the individual
events are simply too limited for this to have a long shelf life. However, the
new events really sets XS apart from other sports titles. If you're tired
of the same old sports, then get a little extreme.