Shredders Offers Some 'Cool Boarders' To Get 'Amped' With
The extreme sports genre was once prevalent from the late 90s to the mid-late 00s, no doubt due to the "Birdman" himself, Tony Hawk. For a brief period of time, the release of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 helped revitalize interest in the long-dormant genre. For THPS1+2 to even be an afterthought, however, was thanks to a community of gamers who kept the genre alive long after time moved on. A dedicated community centered around EA's Skate franchise brought games like Skater XL and Session to life. Soon, AAA titles like Steep and Riders Republic would come forth. Then comes a humble effort from a group of guys who have an interest in snowboarding, Shredders.
Aside from Steep, games centered around snowboarding have endured somewhat of a worse fate than skateboarding titles. At a time, it seemed Japanese developers were more in tune with creating these titles. Classics like the Cool Boarders, 1080 Snowboarding, and even the Alpine Racer series all come to mind. One of the first major Western releases aside from SSX was the Amped series, but since then a snow-inspired game would come and go. Let It Roll, one of the developers that worked on Shredders, worked on a previous game simply titled The Snowboard Game. Joining forces with other devs to make FoamPunch, Shredders is a more complete vision. Players will already know what to expect from the game's tagline alone...
For Riders, By Riders
With a soundtrack made exclusively for the game and featuring real-life pro boarders, Shredders does indeed live by that tagline. Fortunately for players who aren't as invested in the snowboarding culture, it is one of the easiest pick-up-and-play experiences I've played in a while. Let's start with the game's story, or rather premise. The player is introduced with their friend Scotty as they are both up-and-coming content creators called the "Shredageddons." As one can expect, the audience is lacking yet the hunger to push the envelope and do Jackass-tier stunts increases.
Fortunately a chance encounter with Lisa, the brand ambassador for the fictional 540INDY company that the player just "shredded," takes an interest with the duo. Over the course of the game, as the player learns new things and the world of Shredders opens, various riders both fictional and professional are introduced. One of the first pro-riders the player meets is Zeb Powell, a Red Bull athlete and X-Games Gold Medalist. The interaction is played for kicks, as with most of the cutscenes in the game, offering goofy comedy that doesn't take itself seriously and shatters the fourth wall. There's no "conquering of the mountain" to see who's best, it's just two friends wanting to start a following.
Shredders Controls Are Easy To, Well, Shred
When I first picked this game up, I mentioned how floaty the controls felt, especially when winding up for a jump. Turning your character is a momentum-based physics engine as the longer you hold a direction, the further you'll turn. The earlier you begin to carve, the more time you have to get into a groove. Pushing forward tucks your boarder, increasing downforce as well as their speed. Pulling back on the sticks makes it easier to carve and cut sharper corners for less. Pressing RT allows the player to jump and performing spins requires the right analog stick.
What's neat about how the rotation mechanic works in this game is that the right analog stick acts as the boarder's waist. Turning the stick to the left will twist the player's body to the left and "flicking" the stick to the right at the peak of the ramp will cause the body to spin faster. This emulates snapping your waist to let physics do its thing and it's something I've never seen in any extreme sports title I played. Flips are used with the left stick but it's all about momentum. Barrelling down a mountain at 80 km/h vs coming at a ramp at modest speed means the difference between a fast flip and a slow one.
Despite Its Mission Structure, Shredders Is Very Open World
While most of the mountain is slowly unraveled to the player the more they complete missions, the overall world is open to the player. The first section of the mountain alone is huge, allowing players to mess around on the slopes and experiment with ramps. Scattered along the world are collectibles that add to the player's count during missions. As players complete missions and fulfill secondary objectives, they'll earn more of these green guys which are used to unlock the content.
It's encouraged to play through the missions as not only will it teach the players its controls, but it will also open up new gadgets for the player to mess with. Think using a wingsuit in Steep was cool? How about skitching a snowmobile using a wakeboarding-style handle as it tears through the snow? It's literally just as described, imagine wakeboarding but on the snow? Seeing this was impressive for the first time as I wasn't aware I'd be doing this. I thought I was going to drive the snowmobile, but somehow this made it cooler than that.
Those Wanting To Scratch The Extreme Sports Itch Should Try This Out
Shredders is definitely a title I would recommend as a fan of a genre that I've loved as a kid. I never went snowboarding a day in my life and my attempts at a skateboard were comical and painful at best. Thankfully, there are games like this that lets me experience the fun and goofiness of, well, 'shredding' with your friends. It may also get me invested in some of the pro riders featured in this game, who knows. Game Pass owners will definitely want to give this one a try as it's an earnest effort that doesn't try hard to be the "next" anything. It's just a fun time on the slopes with enough depth to keep the player engaged.
Shredders is now available on PC, Xbox Series X/S, and Game Pass.