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Reviewed: Boarder Zone
Author: Chris Kim       Date: March 24th 2000
Page: 3

One aspect about sport games is usually their intense multiplayer action. How fun it would be to compete head to head against a friend and see them eat the snow as they go crashing into a wall and you zipping by them. Fortunately the game includes multiplayer... to some extent. There is one multiplayer option, playing over a network, which really is a bummer if you aren't connected to a LAN or some other sort of network. No internet play or modem play is included whatsoever. When the game actually does work, it sometimes can be extremely troublesome. Setting up games and getting them to work without any lag is very difficult to overcome. When the multiplayer option does work, it is a lot of fun to play, but it's nothing out of the ordinary.

While it is true that there isn't a whole lot of AI to go into the game, that doesn't mean what little AI there is can't be great. However, dominant AI seems to be lacking from the initial design of the game, as most of the opponent riders just seem to have no regard for the player or the situation they are in. The racers just seem to want to go down the hill and go at their own pace, regardless what they are next to, who they are next to, or what place they are in. So, you could expect no real competition from the opponents, which for the most part is true, considering that all the first place people will almost always stay in first and last place in last because the speeds and riding styles of the racers never change. Because of this, the AI is extremely unforgiving, with the first place rider almost never falling over. So if the player were to fall and lose some ground, it's extremely difficult to reclaim that spot back. This is what makes the difficulty of the game so high, combine that with no difficulty settings, and Boarder Zone is one hard game.

Stylin' Over the Hill
Dark Rydas
Iye, Ouch, Ooh

Being a sport game, there is one logical answer to controlling the game--a gamepad. Thankfully so, the gamepad proves to be an excellent (and likely the best) input device. The basic controls just use the first two buttons, one for jumping and the other for tricks. Depending on which buttons are the one and two on the gamepad, they will be easier to reach than others. The controls are all very responsive and give adequate feeling as to how the game feels. Performing tricks and racing is not a hassle or burden as it is in some games. The only problem with the controls is the lack of configuration or ability to change any of the button assignments.

The interface is very clean and well laid out. All the menus and status menus are easily read and seen. The jump bar, as described before depicts two different levers, one that describes the power going into spinning and the other that shows the amount of flip power going into it. There is only one slight problem with this, the only way to increase the spinning bar is to actually move left or right on the board while powering up. Therefore, it is impossible to line-up straight for a power spin.

Backhand 180 Spin
Sraight Spin
Stick a Candle

It might appear that poor graphics are at the heart of the game, but instead there is a very solid graphics engine backing it up. Nearly everything is modeled perfectly, minus the horrible clipping problems, which can be very annoying. While it might not be as bad as in the Tomb Raider series, the clipping can be extremely annoying. While plowing through snow, it seems as if riders are just cut halfway through a pile of textures of white color. On the other side of the road, the character models are very well done. Some claim to be composed of over 2300 polygons, which gives them their extremely fluid and well-animated bodies while riding. This proves to be true with extremely smooth looking player animations along with very nice looking models. The other items such as trees and buildings all look excellent, while not quite realistic just yet, they fit into the game setting very well. Special effects with the likes of lens flare and lighting effects are very well done and add a lot of environment to the game.

With the looks and features of the engine aside, there are some technical problems here and there. The system requirements, to keep the gaming moving along at a good frame rate, are astronomical. On a PII300 w/192mb Ram and Matrox Millennium G400, the game could barely keep up at 1024x768x32 in highest detail. Sometimes serious choppiness would be incurred. For silky smooth frames, the resolution had to be set to 800x600x16, which doesn't look nearly as good.

Preparing the Hop
Come Back Ghost

No usage of 3D APIs are here, but the sounds do fill the air satisfactorily. Most of the sound effects are pretty trite and already seen in most games. Items such as crashing, jumping, and grunting are some of the most common effects that are here and there. There really isn't much beyond that for the sound effects, but they do get the job done. The music seems to be from some lesser-known bands and then licensed for use in the game. The music is similar to those of the likes of Limp Bizkit and also Blink 182. The only problem is that the music just seems to loop endlessly without queue or signal.

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Added:  Friday, March 24, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Page: 3/5

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