Surfing is a sport I know very little about, but have always been curious about. My surfing knowledge has always been limited to what I saw of people surfing at my local beach vacation spot, and the names of half a dozen pros out there (Jack Johnson used to be a surfer, right?).
Surf World Series is out right now and it’s the first surfing game I’ve heard of ever since, well, that Kelly Slater game way back in the PS2 era. Given my slight interest in learning a bit more about the sport, I bought it and enjoyed it….a bit. It’s not a bad game but it isn’t anything special either. Here’s the review.
If anything, Surf World Series didn’t leave a good first impression. It boasts average-at-best visuals, with quite beautiful scenery and very bland character models, reminiscent of the late PS2 era. It also initially intimidated me with its controls. Not that they are bad, but they take a while to get used to, especially with the fact you’re controlling a surfer facing the camera. The tutorial mode did help me a bit, but there were still a handful of movements which were either poorly taught or they’re simply too complicated to perform.
Once you’re done customizing your 128-bit doll, and once you’ve learned enough at the tutorials, you’re good to go to either the career mode or some carefree surfing. The best aspect about this game is how each wave is different from the other, and that directly influences on your runs. Some are taller than the others, some are faster and more aggressive. The best part about it is that it’s all random, so no run will ever be like the previous one. Once you properly learn how to play, pulling off kickflips, tubes, and other surfing stunts I have no idea how to name, the game feels great. When the right tune is being played in the background (a sort of hit-and-miss soundtrack, by the way), it adds to the adrenaline. The problem is, it doesn’t take long for you to see everything the game has to offer.
The main issues with Surf World Series are its sheer repetitiveness and how quickly you’ll see everything the game has to offer. Besides its career mode (which almost always consists of gathering enough points in order to proceed), there’s a free surfing mode and an infinite wave mode. That’s pretty much it, and that’s probably something that will haunt basically every surfing game. You can’t expect much from a game like this, as the sport is as simple as it can be: you surf waves, and that’s it. Sadly, that’s a problem that, unless you decide to do a completely over-the-top unrealistic surfing game, will always plague games like this one, no matter who the developer is.
Surf World Series isn’t exactly a bad game. For what it’s worth, this is probably the best anyone could have ever pulled out from a surfing game. Sadly, the game’s lack of content and simplistic nature are also derived from the fact you can’t expect a lot from a surfing game. Fans of the sport will most likely rejoice, while non-fans won’t change their opinion towards surfing due to this game.
Until Nintendo decides to do a Mario surfing game of sorts (you know they will, someday), this is probably the surfing game of choice if you’re looking for some virtual waves.
Surf World Series is also available on PS4 and PC.