Surf World Series caught my eye when it was announced a few months ago, not having played any form of surfing game since California Games way back when, I was itching to get my hands on it and give it a go. I tried the free demo that’s available, but was a little unimpressed as it only let’s you play a handful of events with no access to the tutorial, throwing you in at the deep end which was frustrating. Nevertheless, I didn’t let that get in the way of trying out the full game.
First things first, you have to jump in to the tutorial, finally being able to do this in the full build was a relief, as while the game does have a slightly intricate move system, the tutorial is put together well and enables you to get to grips with the different elements of gameplay, which once you’ve had a few goes become fairly easy to pick up, the trickiest thing is being able to string all the controls together, giving that age old easy to pick up difficult to master tag line.
There’s plenty of room for practice too, with Free Surf you get to practice to your hearts content in all 5 of the main locations with the addition of an infinite wave pool, once you feel confident enough you can then tackle the events. Set in 5 locations based on real world places, Bell’s Beach (Australia), Waimea Bay (Hawaii), Supertubos (Portugal), Cacimba do Padre (Brazil), and Jeffreys Bay (South Africa). There’s 44 events in total, split into 5 leagues. Events consist of a main target depending on the event type, there’s Big Battle in which you have a time limit to score as many points as possible with the average of your best 2 runs used for your overall score. Championship, here you have to beat the score set for each round to complete it. Survival sets you the task of making it to the end of a wave without wiping out, and finally Set List, usually the last event of a league you have specific actions to perform during these to complete the event. All events also contain 3 challenges, there’s a vast amount of these and include things such as complete the event without wiping out and perform a 5 second tube trick.
So a little more about the controls, as I mentioned earlier, there’s a few elements to get to grips with, movement controls which are pretty straight forward, left stick to steer your surfer around hold in RT to have more precise movement. LT is used for performing a Floater, a move in which you ride the top of the wave, letting go of LT before the meter shown on screen hits red. You can perform standard jumps simply riding up the wave, using the face buttons will perform various grabs while jumping, you can also ‘lock in’ rotations before the jump simply using LB or RB and your surfer will rotate once you ride up a wave and jump. you can also perform grabs during rotation, riding up the wave and pressing RT while flicking the left stick down will perform a snap back, and finally there’s the big tricks. The whole time while surfing you will see a meter fill up along the bottom of the screen, this corresponds to the big tricks, each step along the meter is marked with a face button, this shows that moves can be started with that face button, consisting of 3 button combos you ‘lock in’ your big trick before heading up the wave for a jump, where your surfer will perform the trick automatically. there’s a risk to performing these, as if you don’t carry enough speed up the wave you’re more than likely to wipe out. but landing the move will net you some decent points.
As you can see there’s a few elements to string together, but in doing so, and performing a decent run does give a sense of satisfaction, on the other hand wiping out or losing a wave can lead to frustration, it’s a fine balance that’s performed well in Surf World Series. While it will never be a game to keep you playing for hours on end there’s some replay value, there’s hints of “just one more go”, and coupled with it’s 16 player online (that’s right a game less than £12 with online multiplayer) giving you the opportunity to play against your friends and random players. There’s also online leaderboards for events too.
There’s lots of variety to customising your surfer too, with 6 base models to choose from, you can customise their clothing be it shorts and t-shirts or wetsuits, you can also customise surfboards. There’s lots of colour and decal options that unlock through playing the events. Visually Surf World Series does the Job. We all know that water is one of the hardest things to “get right” in a game, and while not super realistic the sea and waves in Surf World Series do the job. As for the audio there’s not much to the sounds of the sea crashing around and splashing, thankfully Surf World Series features a fitting soundtrack.