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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Treyarch

 

Developer

Activision

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q3 2002

 

-  Typical, high-quality presentation from Activision O2

-  Quality physics model

-  Nice trick mix

-  Great overall ambience

-  Challenging without being too difficult

 

 

-  Some frame rate issues on busy beaches

-  Forced to manual adjust camera too often

-  Soundtrack could use more punch

 

 

Review: Transworld Surf (XBox)

Review: Transworld Surf (Playstation 2)

 

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Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer

Score: 8.7 / 10

 

Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer is Activision’s latest foray into the world of extreme sports.  It follows closely to the formula established by its Granddaddy, the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise.  Despite leaning on its inspiration, KSPS is its own game and deserves to be mentioned with the best surfing games specifically and the best extreme sports games in general.  

 

kelly-slater-pro-surfer-1.jpg (59615 bytes)          kelly-slater-pro-surfer-2.jpg (75728 bytes)

 

Players familiar with the Tony Hawk games will turn on to KSPS immediately.  The same, familiar control scheme is here, though it is tweaked a little to meet the requirements of the sport.  The surfers can be controlled with either the left analog stick or the d-pad.  As with the Tony Hawk games, the d-pad provides the best opportunity for big score as commands can be entered at a faster clip.  Like in THPS, the (X) button serves to load the surfer up for a jump.  The (O) button controls grabs.  The (triangle) button provides for tail slides, and the (square) button allows for carves on the face of the wave.  These buttons alone or in combo allow for Air Tricks, Flip tricks, Grab Tricks, and Face Tricks.  Performing tricks feels very much as it does in the other Activision extreme sports games.

 

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I’ve talked to players that dislike EA’s SSX series because they felt it was a skateboarding game masquerading as a snowboarding game.  They saw all the board manipulation, flips, grinds and such as unrealistic.  Those players might have some complaints about KSPS.  On top of an impressive selection of moves that can be seen whenever the top professional surfers gather for competition, KSPS features some over-the-top moves that are exciting, but clearly unrealistic (though none approach the level of fantasy present in SSX).

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Accomplished in a manner almost identical to the way it was handled in Transworld Surf, KSPS features some excellent tube rides.  While inside the tube, players must maintain their balance by pushing left or right on the d-pad just as is done during a grind in the Tony Hawk games.  Also like the Tony Hawk grinds, players can pull off a number of tricks (with big bonuses) while in the tube.

 

The major element that separates Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer from the Tony Hawk series is the use of the Special Meter.  Unlike Tony Hawk Pro Skater, KSPS features a limited ability to string together combos.  While the Special Meter is green, tricks can only be linked on the same section of a wave, not on multiple sections.  Each trick does contribute to filling the Special Meter however.  Every trick performed while the trick meter is full (yellow) is linked together.  Tricks that are landed imperfectly (called “sloppy” in the game) take away from the special meter.  When the meter returns to green, the points from the linked tricks are scored.  Though this makes achieving a remarkably high score much harder than it is in THPS, most players will be stringing together tricks worth tens of thousands of points within the first few levels of the game.  

kelly-slater-pro-surfer-3.jpg (56098 bytes)          kelly-slater-pro-surfer-4.jpg (44582 bytes)

 

Graphically, KSPS is slightly behind Transworld Surf, though it is really, really close.  KSPS is a pretty game.  The water effects (so important in a surfing game, of course) are wonderful, marred just a little by a decidedly repetitive texturing that doesn’t manage to suggest the same sense of depth present in Transworld Surf.  The character models are a step up from Transworld Surf, however, as is visual splendor of the beaches themselves.

 

Like nearly every other extreme sports game, KSPS features levels that contain a myriad of objectives.  Also like nearly every other extreme sports game, these range from the simple to the ridiculous.  The objectives which have the players learning a new trick “on the fly” are particularly annoying.

 

kelly-slater-pro-surfer-5.jpg (13426 bytes)          kelly-slater-pro-surfer-6.jpg (12334 bytes)

 

The presentation of KSPS, however, made me want to fight through the difficult objectives in order to open up new levels.  Each new beach is introduced with footage taken of professional and local surfers on location.  These video clips are narrated by Slater himself and, for a surfer from a land-locked state who only has opportunities to surf while on holiday, getting a guided tour of the waves complete with stunning footage is nearly worth the price of the game itself.  The videos also give you a good idea just how well-modeled each level is in relation to the real-life beach.  I, personally, have surfed one of the beaches featured and observed a competition at one other (and, for the record, watched a wind-surfing competition at a third).  The digital beaches of the game are so close in look and feel to the real thing that I could almost smell the salt water.  This is a feeling I didn’t get with the excellent Transworld Surf, and the reason I am scoring Kelly Slater Pro Surfer slightly higher than I did that game.

 

- Tolen Dante

(November 4, 2002)

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