Wakeboarding HD

Wakeboring HD

Unfortunately, the HD in the title can't save this one from drowning in its own mess.
Author: Parjanya C. Holtz
Published: April 11, 2010
At its core, any game trying to depict the sport of wakeboarding is doomed to become a very simple arcade title. All you can control is moving your character in a two dimensional space; the rest happens under a strict mechanical feed as the boat you are being pulled by follows a very straight, stringent route. Developing a title in this niche genre means that you have to focus all the more on any core mechanics and especially on controls, collision detection, water and object physics and last but not least looks and presentation. The game needs to feel great, it needs to deliver that slick X Games attitude that is part of the sport's magic and fascination, and then, maybe then, it can turn out to be a title worth playing.

 
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.
The Verdict
3.5

Wonky controls, a lackluster presentation and generally confusing core gameplay mechanics are just a few of Wakeboarding HD's many issues.

6.0Graphics:

It's ok for a download, but definitely not worth the HD in the title.

4.0Sound:

As far as I can tell there is one(!) licensed track in the game (I could be wrong...). Thanks to the PS3's custom soundtracks function, I made it out alive.

3.0Control:

Not quite, but very close to game-breakingly bad.

3.0Gameplay:

Even if you consider the fact that a minority of the challenges are interesting to take on, the core mechanics take away almost any fun to be had with this game.