Mark McMorris: Infinite Air Review

Mark McMorris Infinite Air is a simulation of the extreme sport of snowboarding. In a time where games like 'Snow' and 'Steep' are entering the world, it makes sense that other companies would try their hand at crafting the white powder for the adrenalin junkies to enjoy during their off season.

Infinite Air comes across as an arcade game and may immediately appeal to fans of the Tony Hawk and Skate series but it needs to be made clear that Infinite Air is definitely not a snow version of any of those skaters. Infinite Air is a snowboarding simulator and when I see the word "simulator" used to describe a game, I instantly think that it's going to be hard and in this case, there is no exception.
Boot up the game and enter the tutorial where the graphics look inviting and the puffy bright white slow looks like a mountain made of sensual pillows. You are taught how to carve the snow and gently move across the screen from left to right watching the board leave a tail behind you that has as aesthetic that is off the charts. The feeling is good and the speed begins to ramp up. You learn how to lean your board back and forward and without too much fuss you learn how to do some simple ollies or jumps for those not up with the lingo.

Things sail smoothly for a while until the tutorial takes a turn for the worse. Now I have to land a jump that incorporates a flip. Remember when I said this was a simulator, well this is where is begins to earn its name. Once you leave the ground and begin spiralling out of control in the air, you're essentially left to the discretion of gravity. The controls when floating in the air are hard to learn and even hard to pull off for the first thousand tries. There are no simple combinations for tricks and each trick that I did manage to execute correctly just felt like a fluke.
Games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater fooled me into thinking that I was a godlike figure in these kind of games. Those games are arcade style games and by default make the player able to pull of massive tricks with relative ease. Infinite Air will make you earn your points if you want to go big.

As a simulator, Infinite Air manages to get a lot right by giving as much control to the player as possible by using the analogue sticks to initiate jumps, spins and board grab tricks. During a run, the face buttons on a controller are not used for anything other than resetting the course, which to my dismay, is way too easy to do by accident when your muscle memory kicks in from other similar games and you press the square button (PS4) to do a kickflip, but you just start the run again which resets all of your points.

I am far from a hard core veteran of this genre, but I have been known to punch out my fair share of the Pro Skater titles and I have enjoyed most of them. I have found Infinite Air hard to enjoy for the sheer reason that the game play demands that you spend a lot of time repeating runs over and over to learn proper control of your character. This goes hand in hand with the intended style of a simulation game but for someone looking for a pickup and putdown game to have a bit of fun with, the depth of control is completely lost here.
The yardstick for a well made simulation video game should make it easy enough to do well, but require intense attention to detail to master. Infinite Air has nailed one of those parts but fails to make the game easy enough to keep casuals and arcade fans interested for any span of time. It would have been nice for the game to have implemented some assists to make the game more accessible to a wider variety of gamers out there. An example of what I am referring to would be how the Forza Motorsports game treats their simulator. While the game is hard to play with all of the simulation features in play, you can add things like braking, steering and stability assist to make the game playable for those without hundreds of hours to spend in their game.

While Infinite Air won't be for everyone, there is definitely a game here for fans of this genre and even bigger fans of the sport. Within the game you will find over 160 square kilometres of terrain to traverse coupled with procedurally generated mountains which mean that for those that do want to put hundreds of hours into the game will find it hard to run out of new things to do. Game modes for Infinite air include the following:
  • Circuit Mode:
    This mode is made up of six tiers of competitions testing a players’ skills and mastery of the game. At the end of each tier you will ride against a “boss”, which is one of the pro snowboarders in the game. Players should check out Trick List prior to starting first tier. Character customization will also be available in Circuit mode; you’ll unlock opportunities to customize the more you play.
  •  Open World:
    • Fly around in the helicopter, drop down on any mountain range and start riding.
    • There are 10+ snow parks and pre-built back country runs to discover on Mount Infinite (the default mountain you spawn in)
    • If you need to get back to this mountain, you can access it by navigating to the Main Menus >Brows Runs > Mountains > Mount Infinite.
  • World Editor: When you first play Infinite Air, there will be several dozen maps and courses available to play; however, the vast majority of content will be provided post-purchase, as Infinite Air relies on the creative and very active gaming community to build and share their course creations with users online using the World Editor. Infinite Air uses the same model as The Golf Club, a very successful title that bases gameplay primarily around the thousands and thousands of user generated courses saved and uploaded by players. By doing this, you are guaranteed fresh, new, and exciting content each time you play Infinite Air. You can also challenge friends to play and best your score on your runs, build bigger and better courses, and compete in multiplayer games online. It’s a great way to see what other people are building, and to stay connected with other Infinite Air players.
  • The World Editor will start out containing around 100 items that you can use to build your runs, including ramps, rails, bowls, pipes and more. But, similar to how items were added to The Golf Club after launch, new items including nature items (trees, rocks, animals) will be continually added to the game via updates/patches.
  • Play around with placing items on an area of land, and when you are satisfied, publish your finished runs!
While some video games in this area fail to obtain the rights of real world content, Infinite Air has a good selection of real world athletes as well as their sponsors:
Mark McMorris:
With immense talent and a healthy dose of charisma, Canadian Mark McMorris is one of snowboarding’s leading men. The Saskatchewan native has staked his claim to the sport, possessing 12 x Games medals under his belt along with 2 US Open wins, Dew Tour wins, and many other accolades to date. In 2012, Mark became only the second person to ever win double gold at the Winter X Games (Big Air and Slopestyle), it was also that year that Mark took home the coveted Transworld Riders’ Poll, Rookie of the Year award.

Silje Norendal:
Despite residing in Oslo, Norway, Silje is becoming a recognizable name and face on both
sides of the Atlantic. Both 2013 and 2014 have proven to be two solid winters for Silje, with podiums at huge events like The Dew Tour Mountain Championships and Burton’s High Fives in NZ, along with big wins at the 2013 X Games in Tignes and 2014 and 2015 Winter X Games in Aspen.

Torstein Horgmo:
Torstein has always been at the forefront of progression, as demonstrated by his seemingly endless stream of mind-blowing video segments and through feats such as becoming the first snowboarder to land a Frontside Triple Cork and the first rider to bring the Triple Cork to X Games competition. He has earned countless accolades throughout his career including X Games Gold Medals, Dew Tour Titles, and a 3x Transworld Reader’s Choice Award winner to name a few. Horgmo is also a hard-worker and innovator off the board, having found the rider inspired clothing brand AWSM and a
leading content hub and production company known as Shred Bots.

Danny Davis: 
Danny gained global recognition by injecting massive amplitude and style into halfpipe competition, and maintains it by continuing to adapt his abilities to all types of terrain. With back to back Winter X Games Gold Medals and a member of the 2014 US Winter Olympic Men’s Snowboard Team Danny’s contributions, both as a rider and as a powerful personality within the sport, are making an unquestionably positive impact on snowboarding on and off the mountain.

Ulrik Badertscher:
Recovering from a serious knee injury in 2014/2015 Ulrik is now back at it and
producing web content with BYND X MDLS production crew creating fun story telling videos from their travels around the globe. Ulrik spend most of his time snowboarding in Europe and Scandinavia and occasionally makes the trek over the pond to compete at some of the industry’s biggest events including Dew Tour, X Games and the US Open where he took the top spot in Slopestyle in 2010. Ulrik has a unique smooth style that his peers wish they could mimic both on and off the slopes.

Craig McMorris: 
A veteran of the Canadian snowboarding scene, Craig McMorris first stepped on a snowboard at age 11 and hasn’t turned back since. The elder of the McMorris brothers, Craig has been a mentor to his younger brother Mark over the years, teaching him a few tricks along the way. His prowess on the slopes earned him a place on the Canadian National Snowboard Team in 2011, and he shows his skills in slopestyle events and competitions around the world. He can often be seen on television providing analysis and commentary for snowboarding and skateboarding competitions for companies like the CBC and ESPN, or serving as a host and analyst for the X Games.

Mark McMorris: Infinite Air is not a bad game by any measure, but it's definitely not a game for everyone. Unfortunately due to the lack of assists for the casual player, the game pretty much cuts itself off from the population of gamers that enjoy a game like this for the simple joys, rather than the deep down nitty gritty simulation realism. A game for hardcore snow lovers, but not for the jack of all trades YouTube streamer.

Publisher: Maximum Games
Developers: HB Studios
Ship Date: October 25, 2016
Category:   Action Sports
Platform:       PS4, Xbox One, PC
ESRB:      T for Teen

Lucas Aurelius
Aussie Gamers Express.
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