Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer
The extreme sports craze just goes on and on. Snowboarding, skateboarding, BMX, Inline Skating in fact there are numerous extreme sports that have made it to the home console. So what's the attraction? Maybe it's the feeling of satisfaction with having to learn a sport that's completely different and yet the control system underneath them all is very familiar. Yes it has to be said that since Tony Hawk first graced our small screens most of the games in the extreme sports genre have been very similar indeed. That's not to say they've all been good mind you. Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer promises to be different though as it's not land based, and performing tricks on a crest of wave is a lot different from on land. Let's take a look and see if this bold attempt at doing something different with the extreme sports genre actually pays off.
I have to be honest and say that living in the heart of England means that my knowledge of surfing is non-existent, at least it was before playing this game, so I won't attempt to make out that I know how realistic the gameplay is.
One of the key differences between this title and the others in the Activision extreme sports range is that all tricks are water based (more specifically, wave based) because of the nature of the sport. Of course in some ways this makes incorporating the addictive and formulaic gameplay of other extreme sports titles extremely difficult. Thankfully though Treyarch have done a magnificent job in this department and the game plays as well, in many respects, as the Tony Hawk's series which was a superb achievement.
As with other games in the genre the main focus of attention is the career mode. The career mode begins with a tutorial which may sound like an annoyance if you want to get straight into the action but I found it essential as it introduces you properly to the game and controls. The career mode is similar to the one found in THPS 3 as it includes a mix of varied goals and competitions. After the rigidity of Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 and the necessity to complete every goal before being allowed to progress, it was great to see a return to the flexible approach where not all of the goals have to be completed in order to progress.
In addition to the career mode there is an Infinite Time mode and an Icon Challenge to occupy the single player. Infinite Time is exactly that and very useful indeed to practice pulling off those crazy combo moves. Icon Challenge is a mode that requires you to perform the chosen trick for which an Icon appears on screen and will definitely test your knowledge of tricks. Both of these modes will sharpen your skills and help you progress through the career mode more smoothly. Whilst the single player game is great it's a shame that the multiplayer side of the game is a little lacking with only three modes on offer (and only Push comes recommended).
Graphically the game looks good and the wave physics, to me anyway, seem quite realistic. The water effects, whilst not the greatest ever seen on the PS2 do look very good. The character moves and animations are as good as those seen in THPS3. As with all the other Activision O2 games KSPS features lots of unlockable beaches (the games equivalent to tracks), clothes and boards and they all look impressive. There are no framerate issues either which is pleasing to see after the slowdown that is present in Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX.
The disappointment for deaf gamers comes with the fact that not all speech is subtitled. Kelly Slater, especially in the career mode adds his anecdotes into the proceedings and these are not shown in text. The introduction and FMV clips are not subtitled either. Tutorial messages are given in text but these are not word for word with the verbal content. The game is still enjoyable for the deaf gamer but it is a shame that there is some verbal content that the deaf gamer will have no knowledge of, as it adds to the games ambience.
Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer is definitely of the better titles in the Activision O2 range. Even if you aren't normally interested in surfing, as long as you've enjoyed the Activision O2 range, you'll be very impressed with this title. As we mentioned earlier it is different in that you rely on the waves to perform your tricks but because of the great control system and enjoyable career mode this title is one of the best extreme sports titles out there.
Overall Game Rating: 8.6/10 Different yet strangely familiar. Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer is hugely enjoyable and shows that a game based on surfing can be great fun.
Deaf Gamers comment: No real problems but it's a shame to see that not everything is subtitled.