The problem with creating an ideal snowboarding game is that it needs to feel like you’re actually on the board. Without that, really, you could have all the features in the world and the game would fall apart, mainly because no one would be able to grasp the controls.
Sadly, that’s exactly what happens with Maximum Games’ Mark McMorris Infinite Air. I’ve watched the promo videos for this game, with some players even going as far as to describe it as the Skate of the snowboarding era. Well, I can tell you right now that it doesn’t even relate to Skate. In fact, the only thing it really has in common with that game is how spectacularly you bail if you don’t land something properly. And, oh, baby, does this happen in Infinite Air. A LOT.
That’s mainly because of the awful control scheme. I understand going for something with a little bit of nuance, or even a sort of learning curve. But this is ridiculous. Even going down the mountain can be a struggle because the left analog stick doesn’t merely steer, but ties in with the rest of the control system for grabs, jumps or whatever. And even if you do get the hang of steering, nothing else works. No, seriously. The best tricks I landed in the game were completely by accident – and that makes no damn sense.
Besides the awful gameplay, Infinite Air makes the horrifying mistake of how to not grasp it properly. Seriously, the tutorial system in the game is probably the worst I’ve ever seen, not really giving you that hands-on approach to nail a trick until it’s done right. It’s like that teacher that tells you to solve a math problem, but doesn’t give you the proper tools needed for addition and subtraction. You’re pretty much left hanging here to learn at your own curve, except you’re not really having any fun doing it.
Now, even if you do manage to get a hang of the gameplay, be prepared for a lot of dull challenges, as you’ll run across a series of races and events that get to the point of being monotonous. I mean, even SSX had diversity with its track offerings and events, whereas Infinite Air runs the usual gamut. What’s worse, you can’t access some of the better events in the game until you trudge through the more meaningless ones. You’ll be lucky if you feel enough motivation to get there…and even then, your luck will run out sooner than expected.
The game does have an innovative factor of being able to set up your own events on the mountain, but what’s the point if events aren’t that fun to take part in? This would be a great feature for better games, though – EA should take note if it decides to bring back SSX. Or, for good measure, I’d take something like this in Ubisoft’s Steep. Seriously.
Also, whoever invented the respawn system here should be dragged into the mud. Seriously. I remember getting stuck on an object, then having to restart from the point I crashed and ended up getting stuck yet again on that object. You can move the helicopter around up top, but you have to start your run all over again. Talk about frustrating.
Now, let’s talk about the presentation, which is just as bad. Once again, I watched the trailer for perspective, then hopped into the game, and was wondering if I was looking at two different things. The pop-in for the game is absolutely dreadful, almost resembling an early PS3 release. Some of the mountain details are okay, but the glitches really take away from the aural beauty of the wintery setting.
Plus, the music…who chose this music? It sounds like SSX stuck in an elevator, with the programmers taking part in a “what’s the best bland rock music we can use here?”. That, combined with nearly non-existent sound effects, makes for a bad experience for the ears.
Really, there’s not much good I can find with Mark McMorris Infinite Air. The control system is frustrating beyond belief, and the game provides minimal guidance when it comes to figuring it out and moving forward. What’s more, the presentation is dated and uninspired. If you must have a snowboarding game this holiday season, just wait for Steep. All this game will bring you is Infinite pain.