Poor Shaun White. 2008's Shaun White Snowboarding wasn't a spectacular experience, but it was decent for what it was; and the fact that there was little to no competition helped it as well.
But two years later, Shaun White Skateboarding is released, and at the worst possible time. A time where EA's skate franchise is commanding the sub-genre, and the Tony Hawk series imploded on itself. Now factor in wonky controls, a laughable plotline, 'meh' production values and a throwaway multiplayer mode, and you have a game that really doesn't need an explanation for why it's 20 bucks now.
At its core, the "story mode" is about overthrowing THE MAN. With THE MAN'S oppression, everything is drab, boring, grey, and just generally no fun, kind of like this game. But with the help of generic character stereotypes and Shaun White himself, you bring color back to the world. It's cool I must admit how your tricking brings life back into the environment, but it gets old REALLY fast. And I'm not even going to talk about the god-awful platforming sections near the end of the story mode.
BONUS FACT - This is one of only three "T" rated games (the others being Wheelman and Blacksite) where I've heard the word "Shit" spoken in. Cool, huh?
The control is like a gene-splicing experiment gone horribly wrong. It's more of a skate-esque control scheme than Tony Hawk (though you can use the A button to jump), but after a while (when I discovered LT is for manuals) I realized the controls are a LOT (nearly identical) like SW Snowboarding. And let me just say, a SNOWBOARDING game does NOT play like a SKATEBOARDING game. Everything just feels clunky and clumsy. Wallrides and transfers in particular are far more challenging to do then they should be.
The other real hook of the game is the "shaping aspect," where certain parts of the environment, such as rails, can be manuipulated at will. These are fairly restrictive, and using the rails in particular to reach certain locations is far too frustrating. One skill you get near the end of the game however allows you summon rails at will while in the air, which is EXTREMELY useful, since you inexplicitly explode (literally) when falling from great heights.
Assuming you don't go berserk from the story mode, there isn't that much else to do in the game. There are challenges stewn about, that require you to grind a certain distance or reach a set score. Nothing spectacular. The "hidden" challenges (such as destroying grind-blockers) require a little exploration, but you won't need a guide for them. Even the "treasure" items are pretty obvious. There is a multiplayer mode, but it's a afterthought.
But something good... something good... something good. Oh, the soundtrack is solid. And the game only glitched on me one time. Those are worth mentioning. And it has a "save position" feature, kind of like the older Tony Hawk games (i'm positive THUG 2 had this feature) which proves very useful, due to the clunky controls.
Also, there might as well not be a "get off board" button, as it's pointless... unless you're walking up stairs. I kid you not, your skater as agile as... well, he's not. He has the same movement as he did in Shaun White Snowboarding. Is it lazy or shitty? You be the judge.
Frustrating. Clumsy. Annoying. These words best describe Shaun White's first, and likely last skateboarding game. It's not horrible, as there are some solid ideas in there, but bad design choices really hold it back.
But i'd rather play this than a skate game.