After Shaun White Snowboarding was released to a lukewarm critical reception late last year, it looked like fans of the genre were in line for a disappointing winter. Then February rolled around, bringing with it a relatively obscure game called Stoked courtesy of Austrian developer Bongfish. Suffice it to say, Stoked wasn't a game that was on a whole lot of people's radars, but the finished product garnered quite a bit of critical acclaim for shirking the unnecessary glitz of "extreme" sports games and focusing on the basics of snowboarding. Now Bongfish is working on Stoked: Big Air Edition, an enhanced version of the original that's looking to win over those who passed on the game when it was first released.
The big addition to Stoked: Big Air Edition is a pair of two new mountains to go with the original five. Those new chunks of snow-covered earth are Laax and K2 (more commonly known as the tallest non-Everest mountain in the world). We had the chance to check out both of these new mountains. While Laax feels like a fairly traditional resort mountain, K2 has a much more rugged look and offers a more thrilling riding experience than any of the mountains we can recall from the original game. You'll find lots of exposed rock, big drops, and wide-open slopes--in other words, terrain befitting the mountain's exotic reputation.
New trails will also be included on all the mountains in the game. The fact that Stoked presented open-world mountains was sort of a blessing and a curse because you were offered ample freedom to approach each event however you liked, but it was rather easy to get lost. Those new trails will be groomed pathways that help provide an optional sense of direction; sort of like roads leading down the mountain that don't have to be followed. One incentive to following these groomed trails, though, is that they seem to have plenty of trick obstacles clustered around them, meaning you don't have to go wandering around to find a handrail hidden in the woods.
One of the other features to be introduced in Big Air Edition is a collection of new racing events. You'll find various downhill, checkpoint-style races spread throughout each of the game's mountains with a system that records the best times from everyone who's playing online and lets you go against the best times in the world. Naturally, there are new multiplayer racing events as well, though we didn't get a chance to try those events.
Various subtle enhancements will also make their way into Big Air Edition. The graphics engine has been tweaked to allow for more realistic snow effects when carving down the mountain, including more realistic spray following your rider as he or she carves through clumps of powder. The default camera's also been set a bit farther back and now offers a new trick where it'll pull back in cinematic fashion when you hit the apex of a huge jump. Also new to Big Air Edition is a new collection of winter 2010 gear and clothing from the various real-world brands in the game, as well as two new professional riders, Gigi Ruf and Romain de Marchi.
Stoked: Big Air Edition is currently slated for release on November 24. Like its predecessor, Big Air Edition will only be available on the Xbox 360. You can expect to see more coverage on some of the multiplayer aspects in the coming months.