The age of loud nu metal on top of extreme sports may be over, for better or worse depending on who you ask, but snowboarding remains as popular as ever, and videogames still tackle this sport in a variety of ways. The over-the-top style of the SSX-franchise may be gone for the time being, but more grounded and simulative approaches still exist, of which latest example is FoamPunch’s Shredders, available now on Xbox and on the Game Pass subscription service. Is it worth our time? Let’s find out!
Shredding through the snow…
As said, Shredders’ approach is certainly more grounded and realistic, and even the game’s limited narrative is more fitting for our days, as we follow two upcoming YouTubers trying to become the next big thing in extreme sports by performing gnarly tricks for quality video content. It doesn’t take long before they are noticed by some big sponsors and promoters, initially not even in a positive light, but their stunts and more and more viral content opens the doors of open-ended competitions for them.
The game’s progression system is rather similar to Ubisoft’s 2016 sports gem, Steep – albeit with only snowboard to boot. A large, realistic mountain formation with snow, rocks, trees, buildings and pre-made ramps is at the player’s feet (or snowboard), allowing them to spawn just about anywhere as they look for new events or hidden areas. Players can choose to spawn near the next mandatory story mission, or at any other spawn location from which they can explore freely. This roaming may often reveal unlockable cosmetics, optional side missions and a handful of hidden areas.
Sticking the landing
The actual gameplay, while also reminiscent of Ubisoft’s modern classic’s snowboard segment, just doesn’t seem to sit right with me however. In theory, it’s a realistic approach but nothing too complicated, as the various rotations, grabs and grinds are done mainly with the two sticks, with a help from the shoulder buttons from time to time. In practice, even after several hours of gameplay, I’ve found myself somewhat baffled by the tricks. It feels like I always press the same things, yet sometimes I easily pull of a lovely 720 spin with a grab and a perfect landing, other times I push the stick all the way to one direction and my rider barely seems to recognize my input, as they happily slowly rotate in the opposite direction of my press.
The game’s point system feels rather exploitable too right now, with short and slow rail grind segments being worth more than a massive jump, and also no noticeable point penalties for repeating tricks. And with the aforementioned control issues, on most runs I didn’t feel encouraged to take risks for complex acrobatics, when creating combos of minor ones did the trick just fine. The game’s rather pleasant when it all works, but the inconsistencies take a lot of fun away.
Open snow world
Shredders has a shared open world formula as well, not unlike Steep again or Descenders, where players can be met as they mind their own business in these treacherous mountains. Players can then organize events, races or trick competitions with them as they please, or maybe just casually ride together on the fresh snow. Single or multiplayer it may be, riders have other tools at their disposal, such as a snowcat to carry them through uphill segments or other treacherous parts.
Technically, the game does look the part, with solid graphics especially on Xbox Series X where the game was tested, albeit there’s noticeable and rather annoying framerate drops whenever the game loads new players into our session. In the end, I find myself having a good time with Shredders, but there’s still plenty to iron out in its design before it has the chance to be remembered as one of the great snowboarding titles. Its inclusion in Game Pass both on Xbox and PC makes it easy enough to drop in and out as various updates hit, and I’m curious to see where the game will ultimately land.
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
|Available on||Xbox Series X|S, PC|
|Release Date||17th March 2022|
|Rated||E for Everyone|