Let me make this clear; Wakeboarding HD is a mess in almost every regard. That doesn't mean that the game is a complete train wreck (it's still a train wreck, nonetheless). It just does almost everything wrong that when done right, could have turned this at best mediocre title into something unique and great. Unfortunately, in its current state it's a title you don't want to be caught playing by anyone who knows a little about video games.
But let's take this wreck apart one step at a time. First; the core mechanics. The controls are wonky and unresponsive. Even after giving the game a good few hours I still don't feel like I truly understand what I am doing. Trying to pull off a trick not only feels weird, but the animations also play out unnaturally and stiffly. What contributes to the general confusion and frustration is the funky collision detection. Trying to jump over a ramp occasionally ends with your character getting stuck in the geometry and you dying a cheap death. That's especially painful when you're in the midst of a challenge that requires you to get through a course without a single fall. Controller throwing bursts of anger guaranteed.
What's arguably harder to forgive than all of the aforementioned is that despite its half-way decent looking water, the actual water physics just feel weird. It's simply impossible to get away with lackluster water physics in a wakeboarding title.
In a sentence: the game's entire core mechanics are either broken, or unpolished. Or both. Oh, and did I mention the load times?
My little angry rant continues with “presentation”: I've hinted at the fact that the graphics aren't very impressive, but what's so much worse than a blurry texture is a complete lack of style. To me, a skateboarding game and a wakeboarding game both fit into a very similar genre; modern extreme sports. There's a certain attitude to real-life wakeboarders, just as there is to snowboarders, basejumpers, skateboarders, surfers, that I simply expect to find in a game depicting such a sport. It obviously doesn't matter if the decision is made towards taking the over the top SSX route, or if the emphasis is instead more on a realistic approach similar to that of a Skate title, what matters is that the game offers some sense of personality and style. Wakeboarding HD seems like it never even tries to find its own identity. It just floats somewhere in aimless nirvana. One(!) cool licensed track obviously can't make up for that.
And yet, as always the worst thing about it all is that there's potential. Many of the challenges are, I almost dare not write down the word – fun, despite the weird core gameplay mechanics. Unfortunately, in order to see that light at the end of the tunnel, one has to run a marathon in the dark.