Snowboarding games used to be an event, heck they used to at least be relevant. Whether it was Sony’s Coolboarders series, or the titular SSX phenomenon, this genre once carried more than a few chuckles at its mention. It has been a long time since those days though, and in fact the last notable title was released back in 2012. The end of 2016 is bringing not one, but three powder-shredding titles into the mix, with the first entry being the unfortunately named Mark McMorris Infinite Air. Yeah, I don’t know who he is either, but that isn’t the point. Just how good is his game?
From the get-go, Infinite Air never hides what it is. The game plops players down in a massive environment, and the snowboarding begins. There are events and such to play, but in the beginning it wants to get right down to business. Controls feel tight, and familiar. Having played an abundance of extreme sports games, I picked up the system immediately. It is easy to learn and difficult to master, but it works.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
The issues start to arise when players discover this is a game of trial and error. While the controls are easy to grasp, they don’t always behave as one would expect. Simple acts such as rotation are the real killer. They rack up the biggest points in combos, but are extremely difficult to pull off. I face planted many a time trying to edge out a trick. It takes time to adjust, and quickly keeps this game more on the simulation side, as opposed to the arcade style most of the success in the genre has come from.
Think of Infinite Air as the Skate 3 of the genre, and it becomes clear. This game is about precision, and for those looking for that level of depth, can find it here. My biggest issue is that there isn’t enough here to make that practice worth it.
The main mountain is randomly generated, but also entirely boring. With it having to obey certain rules, it feels desolate. There are also random tracks to run, and the most interesting part of the game, the course creator.
Players can create their own tracks, and the editor is actually intuitive. Placing objects, jumps, and anything else is pretty simple. Players can even share their creations, and of course race other player’s tracks. It is a great system that is only hindered by the abysmal online community. There simply are not enough players to keep this mode trucking for very long, which leaves players with the task of creating their own fun.
Visually the game looks good. Snow deformation is nice, but as I mentioned earlier the world feels bland, mostly due to its randomly-designed nature. The animations are great, until physics kick in. Limbs will flail around in unnatural manners, making for some great clips, but also taking players out of the game. Same with the snow, as the deformation is solid, until it isn’t. It almost feels like the game teases some sense of stability, before tossing it aside in favor of the ridiculous.
Infinite Air is the epitome of an OK game. Nothing stands out, and the fun to be had is minimal. Also at the $50 price point it is hard to recommend to anyone, especially with Snow being free-to-play, and Steep just around the corner. It feels like the start of the genre and not the ultimate entry it so desperately wants to be.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.