Stoked has problems; graphical issues, gameplay problems, a learning curve as steep as its slopes and awful, irritating flaws. But despite all this, buried beneath layers of sloppy game design is a half-enjoyable snowboarding title and though it may skirt too far towards simulation, perseverance will pay off for those that put the time in. Visually, it’s a mixed bag with the mountains looking generally impressive, if a little bare, with texture pop-in and some ugly last-gen-looking characters spoiling the view.
But, Stoked feels like it’s trying to shoehorn in a number of gimmicks in an attempt to jazz up what essentially feels like a slightly boring snowboarding experience. The realism is taken up a notch with real-time weather, there’s the usual array of unknown irritating pop-rock controlled by the music function on your phone, there’s a range of branded clothing, but no matter how much it’s dressed up, the gameplay itself always feels stiff. Each mountain is broken up into set challenges, but each one becomes its own Everest. First, there’s the impenetrable boarders’ language, if you don’t know what a 50:50 is, Stoked won’t tell you and, second, once you manage to complete the challenge it’s more a matter of ‘thank god that’s over’.
Most of Stoked’s problems stem from a lack of understanding on the developer’s part, other than the graphical issues. It’ll be a good few hours before you begin to have anything resembling fun with Stoked, but once you finally do, it’s mediocre at best. Is it the game’s problem if its players don’t understand the lingo, should there be a level of pre-existing knowledge required to play? No, of course not, it’s a level of laziness on the developer’s part, or a simple lack of understanding of who its audience is.
All could be forgiven if Stoked asked more of you than completing far from interesting challenges and building up your ‘Fame points’ across the range of real-life mountains. The graphical issues extend to the physics, making jumps, grinds and grabs far too difficult to pull off. Stoked will punish you before you get anything in return and even then you’ll be questioning exactly why you are playing something that has very little charm or original gameplay, and has been done far better before.