ESPN Winter X Games - Snowboarding 2
ESPN Winter X Games - Snowboarding 2 On Playstation2
This is Konami's second ESPN snowboarding game on the PS2.

The first in the series was strictly a snowboarding simulation.

The problem was that the game was too difficult and inaccessible for the average game player. The game was geared more towards real snowboarders.

In this new incarnation Konami have taken a step backwards in order to take two steps forwards, trying to strike a good balance between the thrills of arcade and the simulation of the real thing. The finished product is now more accessible to the average gamer yet it still has the simulation aspect for the real snowboarding athletes.

When you pop this disc into your Playstation you will be blown away by the fantastic video of professionals pulling massive air, hurtling down ultra steep mountains, what seems like suicide to any sane person.

You will then come to the options menu. There are two main modes of game play, X Games mode and Snowboard mode:

The snowboard mode revolves around your attempt to get into the X Games. You must enter competitions and build you reputation and charisma. As your charisma builds you will take part in photo shoots and seduce sponsors to give you the equipment you will need. Once you reach the X Games you will enter competitions to get better sponsors and ultimately better equipment in order to win.

There are five different events to enter.

First there is the slope style. The aim of the game in this section is to get down the hill within the time limit while making as many points as possible by pulling combos and tricks on the way down.

Snowboarder X is basically a downhill race. You must finish in front of the rest of the pack of entrants.

Super Pipe, is one massive half pipe which you must ride down pulling as much big air and the maddest tricks as is possible. This is a points based level but you must finish the run within the allotted time.

Big Air is a down hill slope which has two very large ramps in which you have to pull off the biggest air possible.

Finally there is the self-explanatory free ride.

That's not all of it though, to make everything much harder you have a health meter for each run, if your health runs out so will your run, and you will have to take a trip to the hospital.

Although this is very realistic it is not very accessible. When you start, your ratings will be very low, so low in fact that controlling the snowboarder is very difficult indeed. Most players will probably give up well before they reach any of the later stages of the game.

The X Games mode is the more accessible of the two. This is probably the section of the game which most people will spend most time on. First off, you have a massive selection of professional snowboarders that include X-games gold medallists and legendary snowboarding gods alike.

Because you are using professional snowboarders with very good skills and attributes it is much easier than the previous mode. You may also choose the event you wish to enter. All you have to do is win the qualifying event and you are put straight in to the X Games final.

This mode maybe easier than the snowboarder X but when it comes to pulling tricks it isn't that easy. The controls are similar to Tony Hawks, the square and the circle buttons are used to perform grabs (back side or front side), the triangle is used for grinds and the X button is used to ollie. The analogue stick is used for turning and twisting during tricks. When you try to perform multiple flips and spins you are likely to end up bailing out and falling flat on your face. The problem comes in the timing of your trick, if you can not perfect your timing it will end in disaster every time. Spinning isn't quite so tuff but it will still result in many bails before you have perfected the timing.

The in game graphics are pretty realistic. All the courses are based on real locations from around the world. The Pro's closely resemble their real life counterparts, and all come complete with facial expressions. Also their clothes look great as they flap in the wind when you are speeding down the course.

The main let down in the looks department of the game is the lame snow effect when your carving through corners.

The music in the game is wicked, it features such bands as the fantastic Jurassic 5, Offspring and classic punk tunes from The Damned and The Vandals.

ESPN Winter X Games Snowboarding 2 has some good moments, it is a must buy for any snowboarding fiend, but the main draw back is the very, very steep learning curve. If you can usher yourself through the first hard stages of the game you will be a happy shopper. If you're not a serious gamer it's probably not your bag, and the game will end up on a shelf picking up dust for the rest of its days.