Mark McMorris Infinite Air is an expansive snowboarding game featuring miles and miles of fresh snow for you to carve, trick and flip your way across – mostly in a downward direction. It offers simulation gameplay and sharp visuals, as well as the ability to create your own tracks and lines. The mountain is truly yours to define!
Somewhat ironically, Infinite Air has a steep learning curve. It is an unforgiving game, much like the sport of snowboarding itself. Unlike games before it such as SSX and Shaun White, Infinite Air focuses a lot more on the precision, experience, and imagination required to be a pro boarder. Its controls, while intuitive with utilising the left and right triggers to control your hands and the two analogue sticks to control your direction, are a little clunky and often left me dissatisfied. It genuinely felt that sometimes it wasn’t my fault that I bailed – although I concede that the majority of the time I was probably to blame.
The gameplay itself is fun, however the difficulty of the game does it a disservice, as it doesn’t really offer much in the way of cruising down the mountain at a leisurely pace just to relax – which will no doubt turn away casual players. Controlling your character in the air is a particular downfall, as once you’ve started a flip or a roll, there’s no real way to stem the momentum you’ve gathered and more often than not you will end up with several fractures.
If you’re on the lookout for your next line to hurtle down, you can summon a helicopter to escort you across the plethora of mountains that Infinite Air offers. Being able to drop in anywhere at any time is a highlight. You can satisfy the childish desire to see a huge mountain in the distance and plonk yourself on top, while trying to avoid outcrops as you trick your way to the bottom. In that respect, Infinite Air is a huge success. Wherever you see, you can go. Wherever you go, you can trick. It’s just a shame that there isn’t more of a balance between simulation and arcade, as I feel it would be vastly improved if there was just a little bit more give in the game’s controls and overall feel.
Circuit mode offers developer-made challenges in a variety of different areas. There are straight up races, lines to beat high scores on, big jumps where you can perform quadruple front-flips, and half-pipes. Each circuit will offer five different challenges for you to complete, rewarding you with cosmetic unlocks for your custom character, or one of the host of professional snowboarders that are in the game, including of course, Mark McMorris. The circuit modes are varied and fun, and the challenges are general enough to allow you to define your own style, as well as a few specific tricks to pull off to prove you can do it!
The game is not free of technical issues, as sometimes I found it to stutter, especially while flying the helicopter as assets were loaded. This isn’t a huge issue and is easily forgiven when the snowboarding gods allow you to land that 1080 Switchside cleanly and accrue a huge number of points.
Infinite Air’s soundtrack is of high quality, however it’s a shame there aren’t more songs available. The audio also features your pilot talking to you and commenting on your tricks – successful or otherwise. It’s a nice addition which adds to the immersion of the game.
The ability to upload your own custom challenges for everyone else to enjoy is another positive for Infinite Air, essentially giving the game infinite replayability value. However, if you can’t get to grips with the controls it’s not likely you will enjoy playing these tracks – they will be equally frustrating as free mode is.
In addition to creating your own runs, you can also use the world editor to sculpt the snow to your liking and place objects in and around the world for you to trick off, or to avoid. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but feel that although the world editor is in depth, the game world itself was missing charm and character. There was no “default” map which was laden with loads of cool runs or places to go. It was very much a blank canvas of snow and it honestly felt a little bit empty.
All in all, Infinite Air is a solid offering from HB Games’ first attempt at an extreme sports game. The game could do with being a little bit more forgiving and lively – a default map from the developers would add so much more to this game to show the community how it’s done. It does well in not limiting abilities or tricks, the only progression that you need to worry about is cosmetic. The graphics are good and the music is fitting, although there isn’t much of it. Infinite Air’s biggest downfall though is that landing a huge, complex trick seems more based on luck than skill.