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Reviewed: Boarder Zone
Author: Chris Kim       Date: March 24th 2000
Page: 2

Being one of the first generation of extreme sport games on the PC, one might be inclined to think that Boarder Zone would be a quite poorly designed game. However, this is not the case as it is a very well designed game, albeit without a few flaws, especially being too short. The game packs a thousand features into one package that should appeal to the widest range of gaming enthusiasts. In the package are several real 2000 edition snowboards that have been officially licensed for use in the game with realistic handling conditions of the respective board, several different racing locations, and tricks for all players to play and mess around with.

As it would be most fitting, there is no storyline or plot to how the game is played. It is all at the hand of the user to decide what to do and where to go. Players can choose from several different events and game modes, the typical ways to play are air, pipe, and racing, all of which are real snowboarding competitions. Each game must be approached with a very different strategy and handling techniques. Then there are the different game modes, arcade, championship, and practice. The corresponding mode following the similar mode in most other sport games, each of the game modes and play styles provide a different gaming experience for all to enjoy on different levels.

Flip It
Red Snow?

Tricking is one of the most important aspects of both the air and pipe competitions. These tricks are what rack up the points and scoring for both of these competitions, and thankfully, Boarder Zone is loaded with tons of tricks to perform and attempt. Using a powerslider type bar, players will hold down the jump button to charge their jumps and their flipping and spinning power. All of the tricks in the game are real tricks from life such as 360 spin tailgrabs or front flip candlesticks. All these can be executed quite easily, but mastering them and getting the landing down perfectly is very difficult. These tricks heighten the gaming experience by adding a freestyle element rather than just racing.

The air mode is pretty similar to what it sounds like, players will get to start at the top of the mountain and come down at speeds of faster than 120kph and jump and try to do tricks while still being able to land safely on the other side of the mountain. This may sound easy, but it isn't, which makes the game much more fun to play. Doing the tricks in the air and still being able to land with perfect timing is one of the hardest things to master. There are three elements to getting a high score, players must be able to time the initial jump perfectly. After that, they must be able to get enough height and distance during their tricks to land on the other side, and they must be able to stop their trick in mid-air fast enough that they can land on the mountain safely without falling over.

Look at My Head
Follow the Trails
Board Grab Flip Spin

What exactly is the pipe competition? Well, the full name is the half-pipe, which very accurately describes what it is. Players will enter a pipe type-boarding arena where the focus is just to do as many tricks as possible to attain the highest score. The harder the trick, the more points will be awarded to the player. Aside from the various terrain and different styles to approach each track, there really isn't much beyond just doing a bunch of tricks and winning the competition, which isn't to say the mode isn't a hell of a lot of fun, which it is.

Racing is obviously the main focus of the game with a whole competition based upon it. All of the races are about speed, getting to the end of the races is what it's all about. Each location is spread about on either alpine, forest, or village locations, all with their own hazards that players can run into or fall over. There are various snow conditions that handle very differently from race to race; some locations are just full of ice, which logically makes the player go extremely fast but with very little traction and control. On the other hand, there is powder snow that is very deep, and it is quite slow to go on but has very good control.

Uh oh...
Need for Speed
Outside the Boundaries

Overall design of the tracks are quite impressive with a sleek combination of both hilly and flat areas. Each of the tracks increases in difficulty from easy to hard on the three different locations. The various areas contain such soft snowy terrain to rock hard mountains that stop a boarder dead in his path. One of the greater features about the game is quite realistic physics. Thanks to the handling terrain and various snowboards, each with unique handling abilities, each time the player attempts to play with a different board, a slightly different feeling is given. Realistic center of balance and gravitational forces seem to be at work while attempting tricks. The angle of attack that the boarder approaches the ground is also very crucial to getting the proper shock balance after landing. All these added elements make the game slightly more realistic than an arcade racer, but still a few of the tricking stunts are far too difficult and unrealistic to perform in real life. Such stunts as the 720 backflip mute would be extremely difficult to pull off.

All of this sounds fine and dandy, but there is a bit of a significant problem. The tracks are extremely difficult for the most part. All of the items are meticulously placed that they can hinder progress and racing significantly. Often, players may find themselves playing tracks over and over again because of it. Also, with the quite short tracks, the game seems to zip by rather quickly, but thankfully it doesn't get old too fast, so players may feel inclined to play an event over and over again to get it right the next time.

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Added:  Friday, March 24, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Page: 2/5

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