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Kelly Slater: relaxing fun


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#1 of 1 EdR

EdR

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Posted April 02 2003 - 05:20 AM

I bought Kelly Slater Pro Surfer new when it came out, and I liked it, but I didn't think it was worth $50, so I exchanged it...planning to pick it up used when the price dropped. This past weekend, I found it for $25 (Xbox), and you know what? I think this game is really nice!

I'm probably showing my age here, but it's pleasantly unique that you can pick up an 'extreme sports' game and not face blood splatters and spine breaking accidents, as in THPS, and various BMX and snowboarding games. This isn't to say getting pounded by a wave is easy on the body, but by comparison to face-planting on cement it is.

KSPS doesn't offer close to the sheer variety of courses that, say Aggressive Inline does (and I love AI), but the various beaches do have differences in wave size, shape and speed that you must adjust to. The trick system is pretty standard, but some tricks (particularly ones of the wave face) can be quite difficult to master.

This game downright gorgeous, with luminous waves and sparking water. On some beaches, the waves glow from being backlit by the sun. I've heard that the Xbox version offers enhanced water effects, but I can't compare since I haven't seen it on other platforms.

The music is really nice, from eastern-influenced downtempo breaks, cool latin-flavored numbers, and even reggae. The music fits, and helps set, the mood of the game perfectly.

The environmental sounds are well done, the waves sound good, but I can see room for improvement. First of all, there should be more bass, plain and simple, to convey the power of a 25 foot wave. Second, inside the tube, the sound doesn't change much, whereas I can only imagine that in reality it must sound different inside the wave. And last, it would be nice if the board itself made sounds and you cut through the water, even if in reality this would be drowned out by the wave.

I can see why this game didn't, and won't develop the rabid following that THPS has. It doesn't present the same level of technical difficulty, the variety of courses and obstacles, or even the showy tricks. I've tried a few other games in this category and found them so derivative that they just weren't fun despite their technical prowess, a good example is the Matt Hoffman BMX game. But KSPS is different enough that it doesn't feel like another clone, add to that the pick-up-and-play fun, beautiful visuals and lack of violent accidents, and I think this game should not be overlooked.

P.S. Can anyone comment on the GBA version? I'm curious how it plays.




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