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March 2024


Platform(s): PC, Xbox Series X
Genre: Sports
Developer: FoamPunch
Release Date: March 17, 2022


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Xbox Series X Review - 'Shredders'

by Cody Medellin on March 29, 2022 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Shredders is a snowboarding game that balances simulation and fun with fine controls in an easy to learn and discoverable way.

Snowboarding game fans have had it rough on consoles recently. Horatio Goes Snowboarding was a simple arcade game that used the sport but didn't focus on it. Mark McMorris Infinite Air had promise but was unfulfilling and ultimately got delisted. Both Steep and Riders Republic were solid titles but had less of an emphasis on snowboarding as it made the sport part of a general sports experience instead. Xbox One and Series X|S owners had some comfort knowing that they could replay SSX 3 and SSX on their consoles, but things looked bleak for those seeking a new experience. Shredders represents the first earnest attempt at creating a game with a sole focus on snowboarding, and the result is pleasing.

Surprisingly, there's a story in Shredders. You and your friend Scotty comprise the team of Shreddageddon, a pair of YouTubers aspiring to make a name for their channel in the online snowboarding world. While they have the drive, they don't (yet) have the viewers to push them to stardom. The brand manager for 540 Indy sees you two goofing off and has a plan to garner you some notoriety while also pushing the brand. Thus begins your journey to the Invitationals, where you'll compete against the world's other pros.

It only takes a few minutes for the game's narrative to remind you of Amped 3, albeit a less frenzied and more normal take on what a snowboarding comedy would look like. Scotty is a lovable goofball, but he isn't so dense that you tire of his antics. The stuff you end up getting into is harmless, and you won't find yourself going against anything outrageous. In short, the plot is grounded and works fine.

You start things off by choosing your outfit from one of four presets. Picking an outfit over a character might sound odd until you realize that the game has no character creation system. In fact, everyone is wearing a full body outfit, including goggles and a full scarf, so nobody's face is visible. The game makes a joke about this early on, and while it saves the developers from having to render loads of specific faces, it makes every character you run into look quite interchangeable.

When you start the game proper, you'll be taken to a series of quick stages that teach the basic controls. Much as in .skate, you're dealing with a dual analog setup, where the left stick controls body movement and the right stick controls board movement via tilting in certain directions. Grabs are done with the shoulder buttons, while the right trigger jumps as you pull on it to preload and let go to perform the actual jump. The left trigger tries to reestablish your form when you're getting ready to land. It's one of those things that takes some practice to do but feels natural after a few minutes of play; soon you'll easily pull off grinds or get in some good flips.

If you fall to the ground, you can restart the run or perform a rewind where you go back a few paces and try again with the same speed and direction. Not having the option to just get up at that spot feels odd, but the rewind function is welcome since you'll likely want to retry that part immediately afterward.

The campaign in Shredders can last an average of six hours, which feels good considering that the actual stages are so short. Some require you to perform a certain trick. Others are short races or involve you tailing a pro rider. A few others give you an objective, like landing off a certain ramp or tapping a car with your board. Each stage has a few secondary objectives that are a little tougher to accomplish, but all you'll need to do is get the primary one done before you can move on. The incentive for completing the secondary objectives is unlocking more gear, and although your visual appearance doesn't change with additional gear, just knowing that you unlocked gear can keep you motivated.

Between stages, you're sent to the menu to select your next mission, but instead of being taken to the spot immediately, you're sent to the free ride section to ride to your destination. It might seem rather annoying to go through a cycle of menus to ride to missions all the time, but the quick load times make you forget about the time wasted on this process. Should you stick around in free ride mode, you'll find that each mountainside is quite expansive. The game offers the use of a drone that lets you take photos and videos of your runs but lets you spawn anywhere you want in the stage.

There are two things that mar the overall experience. The first is the game's stuttering. It sometimes occurs during the campaign missions and more so with free ride mode, but you'll experience moments when the game hitches. Those hitches are random, but considering that the game is only available for Xbox Series X|S, skipping the Xbox One|X altogether, these performance spikes feel odd.

Sporadic momentum loss occurs at times. There are moments when you're bombing down a hill only to approach a ramp and have a weak leap. In other moments, you'll fail to pull off a certain trick or rotation, even though you've memorized the controls. Like the stuttering, it's an odd issue that we're hoping gets ironed out via a few patches.

The multiplayer is both present and absent in Shredders. Unless you specifically turn it off, you're always in multiplayer mode when you're outside of the campaign missions. The mountain isn't populated the way you'd see in a game like Riders Republic, but you can tell someone is online when you see them briefly warp back and forth when they initially spawn in. Having real people present in free ride mode is nice, but you can't really do anything with them once you see them. Your only option is to verbally set up something with them at that moment and hope that everyone is honest with their results.

The presentation works well enough. The music is composed mostly of lo-fi hip-hop and similar styles that seem to be the new norm for the latest crop of extreme sports games, and it works well here to generate a more relaxed riding vibe. The voice acting ranges from pretty good for your main cast of characters to OK for the pro cameos, but the lack of sound balancing in most cases hurts this area a tad. The environments look quite pretty, but there is still some shadow pop-up and effects flicker that can occur when some of the powder gets kicked up. Trick animations are good, while the snow deformation also makes things look appealing in motion and in still shots.

Shredders is an enjoyable game if you temper your expectations. The campaign is quite good and comes in at just the right length while also providing some incentive to return and complete all of the challenges for each mission. Free roam mode is fine if you can forgive some of the performance hitches and inability to do much with others in a structured setting. The controls are good, but you'll lament the game momentarily forgetting about its momentum system. The relaxed feeling of snowboarding without restrictions makes things enjoyable. It makes for a perfect game for Xbox Game Pass and a decent purchase for those starved for a purely snowboarding-focused game.

Score: 7.0/10

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