If there was one title on the early Xbox launch list that looked a bit different to the rest it was Transworld Surf, there hasn't really been a good surfing title on any of the consoles or even PC's for a heck of a long time and this one looked like it had a rather spanking good graphics engine. So how does this one compare to other extreme sport titles such as Tony Hawk and Dave Mirra.
Installation, Settings and Loading Speeds
Installation is yet again just a simple case of putting the Xbox DVD-Rom into the Xbox DVD drive. The Transworld Surf menu loads within about 20 seconds, which for a game console is pretty fast going, but before the game loads to the menu you are greeted with a three minute video showing off the surfers in the game and some in-game footage mixed together. Once the menu has loaded you are able to pick from the following options:
The first port of call I made in Transworld Surf was the Pro Tour mode. This section is the main part of Transworld Surf and will most likely be the area you would play the most. The aim here is to guide your surfer through various locations and competitions. The locations vary in difficulty from the easier early stages which tend to have simple waves and little debris or other surfers floating around, to the later levels with large boats/rocks/waves and lots of surfers to bump into.
In each location you tend to have to complete various challenges, these can range from scoring a certain number of points to freeing 8 whales from netting in the sea by surfing over them, but believe me when I say that even the early levels are not easy to get through. During these stages you are also required to take part in photo shoots, if you manage to get your photo taken enough times during a heat then you will be entered into the main challenge for the location you are surfing in.
The main competition challenge contains 3 minute heats, the first heat has two groups of 4 surfers, second heat has the top two from the first two groups competing then the final third heat has the top two from heat two competing against each other. The winner of the final heat gets a medal and the chance to take home a new improved surfboard.
So how does the gameplay vary from location to location? Not bad, there is quite a variety in the type of challenges you have to complete in each location so you don't get bored doing the same old things over and over. One good feature is the "Karma Meter", this lets you know how you are treating other surfers and sea life around you, if you respect them and don't bump into them then they will leave you alone, if you don't do that then believe me when I say that your life will be made a lot harder whilst surfing the waves, especially when being chased down by a shark.
Well now, I never expected Transworld Surf to be easy to get to grips with, and I was right, it certainly isn't an easy game to play. So don't believe the back of the box with says "Pick up and play controls", because they only become like that if you have played it for a few weeks.
The actual controller setup isn't difficult to remember. You use the main left thumbstick to control the boarder left, right, back and forth. A to make your surfer jump or ollie/air, press B to do snap turns, y to perform a floater (ahem) on a wave, while X slows you down which can come in quite useful in the game, especially when you are under a barrel and trying to gain as many points as possible.
Multiplayer mode can have up to four players taking part. There are three different type of multiplayer games, they are Multiplayer Free surf (the same as the single player one). Multiplayer competition mode which lets you all compete against each other in timed events and then finally Multiplayer king of the wave, where surfers have to try and out-do each other during the mode. Each mode has its good points and I'm glad to see some effort was made to incorporate some good multiplayer styles here.
Graphics & Sound
We have a mixed bag here, on one hand we have some fantastic wave effects, possibly the best wave and water effects I have seen on any console. Then we get the mediocre surfers and beach landscapes. But I guess as it is a surfing title and the thing you are most likely to be looking at 99% of the time is water, then they have concentrated on the right area to perfect.
Ahhhhhh - now to the sound, there is a great range of rock tracks from some great bands like Sum 41, Nebula, Anti-Flag and Stranded. All of which are perfect for a surfing title, the only problem here is that the tracks can sometimes be repeated too often. Next up the sound effects, hmm not bad again but nothing special. The waves sound almost perfect, but again they should do. When you consider you are surfing your not going to be hearing a whole load of sound effects anyway.
There are not many Surfing titles out there, so it is hard to compare this title to any others. I have to say right away though that Transworld Surf is hard to control, it can take a long while to get into - but when you do get used to it, a pretty good extreme sports game awaits you.