E3 2002: Shaun Murray's Pro Wakeboarder impressions

Activision finds yet another board sport worthy of the Tony Hawk treatment. Hands-on details inside.

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Shaun Murray's Pro Wakeboarder is another game that follows in the footsteps of Activision's Tony Hawk franchise. Only this time, instead of skating, snowboarding, BMX biking, or surfing, you'll be riding a wakeboard while getting pulled along by a boat.

If that was all the game had to offer, it'd probably be pretty boring. While holding onto the line from the boat, you can swing out to the sides a bit, finding some nice lips in the wake that will get you flying high enough to do some tricks. But the line keeps you from going wherever you want, like over to the sides of the course, where boats and other grindable objects lie. To get yourself over to these objects, you have to let go of the line, which is done by hitting either L2 or R2. Once you've done that, you're free to go and do whatever you please... but you'll stop gaining speed once you release the line. If you're close enough to the boat, hitting the line release button will cause the guy in the boat to toss the line back out to you. So the main idea behind the game is to do some tricks, release the line, board over to some objects--such as ramps, rails, and the like--get back in the water, and get close enough to the boat to catch the line toss. Successful trick combos earn you more time on the game's two-minute clock. If you fail to get back to the boat, you'll eventually reset and be able to continue attached to the boat.

The game controls a lot like the Shaun Palmer snowboarding game that Activision released, which in turn played a lot like the Tony Hawk games. The button setup for tricks is just about identical, with the circle button being used for flip tricks and the square button in place for grabs. Triangle handles your grinding. You can even do manuals in the water to link your tricks together into long combos.

Shaun Murray also has a similar goal structure. In the level we saw, there were a handful of score-based goals, as well as an impress the girls goal, a hit five tubers goal, and a smattering of other, similarly-designed goals. The game has a nice, sharp look to it. The water, in particular, is very, very nice. The waves ripple realistically and reflect the environment and clouds above.

Fans of Activision's alternative sports games will feel right at home with the Shaba Games-developed wakeboarding game. Shaun Murray's Pro Wakeboarder is scheduled to hit shelves later this year.

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