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Looks like a Whiteout!: Shaun White Snowboarding 

Even as Central Oregon snowboarders have been praying for snow, there has been something available in the video game world to get them through the

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Even as Central Oregon snowboarders have been praying for snow, there has been something available in the video game world to get them through the drought. Shaun White Snowboarding comes at a time when snowboarding games like SSX and 1080 have all but disappeared. Why it has taken so long to fill the gap is a mystery, but developer Ubisoft has taken the reins. The game was created using the Assassin's Creed game engine - a wise choice - and will be released on the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Wii version was created separately from the other two versions and is capable of using the Wii balance board.

A lot of sports games are released with a star's name and face attached, with little or no input from the celebrity. Shaun White Snowboarding, however shows much of his personality and the laid-back humor of the sport of snowboarding. At this year's E3 he even gave a demonstration of the game. The characters in the game are stereotypically goofy, similar to the ones in the SSX games, but the attitude and mood seem to blend nicely. Even the snowboarding gear on the characters is used with permission from real life sponsors. The music is almost a character in the game itself; classic rock and indie artists thump your speakers while you tear up the slopes.

Most past snowboarding games were fairly basic. With SWSB, however, you are allowed to roam freely on the mountain, pick up challenges, use the environment to do tricks while winning big money and fame along the way. This game sets up a lot of good ideas, but doesn't seem to use them to their full potential. It reminds me of my stepmother's cooking, it looks great but there's just no taste. Even at the start of the game there seems to be lights, cameras and no substance. At least with the SSX games you had so much going on around you with unreal slopes, lights, fireworks, etc. But SWSB just seems empty. When engaging in various activities around the slopes the process just doesn't seem well thought out. Whether it's bad choices or just a lack of thought is hard to say.

The game creators tried to make the controls a bit simpler, but that has its own set of problems. The learning curve here has you falling down and making a lot of small mistakes until you get the hang of it. Shawn White Snowboarding is just half a game. If the creators were able to add a dash of 1080, a sprinkle of SSX and the design and attitude of Shaun White himself, you would have a perfect snowboarding game. However, the design choices made in this game put a real damper on the good things about it, like its structure.

Some players might think this is A-OK, but others might find this game quickly boring and wish they had rented instead of buying.


When You're Late to the Party

So Christmas has come and gone and you said early on that you were going to give some badass video games. Well, turns out you waited too long and every worthwhile game was sold out. Here are some tips for next year so you don' t make the same mistake.

Buy Early.

The last two weeks before Christmas are that hardest time to get games and systems. So if you're at the store and see what you want, don't wait, buy it. And if you change your mind you can always return it.

Check Early.

The best time to get games and systems is early in the morning. Most retailers put out stock early or at certain times of day. Find out when your favorite retailer gets and puts out stock. Don't be afraid to ask a manager when they do.

Check Yourself.

The biggest mistake is calling retailers and asking if they have a hard-to-get game or system, especially the last few days of X-mas shopping. More times than not, a retailer is busy with customers and will just say no because if they do say yes then that leads to customers asking to hold stuff which most retailers can't do. So go to the store yourself.


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