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Surf World Series Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Although Surf World Series manages to get the basics right, it never figures out how to turn surfing into a compelling sports game. The gameplay is easy to learn and I love the tropical locations, but there's almost no variety in the events, the stages are repetitive and the presentation comes up flat. I still have faith that somebody is going to create the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater of surfing games, but that's not Surf World Series. Rating: 57%
Surf World Series
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
I don't think it's too much to say that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was a revelation when it hit PlayStation back in 1999. Not only did it bring skateboarding simulators out of the Stone Age, but it helped to launch a whole line of extreme sports games. We suddenly saw publishers announce titles based on snowboarding, BMX biking, inline skating, wakeboarding and even those Razor scooters. But while Activision and Electronic Arts found success with a few of those extreme sports, the same couldn't be said about surfing. The few attempts fell flat and failed to generate the same kind of magic we saw in other games, leaving me to wonder if we would ever see a must-own surfing game. The year is 2017, and I'm still waiting.

Surf World Series is the latest attempt to turn wave riding into a compelling sports game. It comes to us from the always-versatile Climax Studios and sends our surfer around the world to trick off waves and earn high scores. It ditches the usual flash and licensed athletes to deliver a solid looking sports game that is actually fun to play.


After spending a few minutes going through the brief surf school, we're taught all about paddling, snap backs, pulling off floaters and wowing the crowd with a whole host of advanced tricks. We're able to prep spins by pressing the shoulder buttons and dial up big air moves by pressing a combination of three face buttons. Once we have a move ready, we race towards the wave and watch the trick unfold. There's a little more to it than that, but the gameplay is easy to learn and the moves are fun to pull off.

Surf World Series is split up into 44 different events, which are really just a few modes repeated over and over. Most of the events want us to beat a set score in order to advance. Sometimes it will be about averaging your top two runs, while other moments you'll have to beat the score two or three times in a row. There are also events where the entire goal is to survive especially rough waves without falling off, which can be trickier than it sounds.

Beyond earning high scores, each event will also give us three challenges to complete. They'll want you to perform a perfect floater trick, stay in the air for a certain amount of time, nail a number of perfect landings, stay in the tube for a set amount of time and never repeat a trick. The good news is that you don't have to do all that at once. In fact, you don't even have to beat the level to complete the challenges. But much like the event types, you'll quickly notice the same challenges popping up time after time.

I hate to say it, but repetition seems to be the theme of Surf World Series. This has always been the knock against surfing games. It's one thing to be able to create fun gameplay, but the locations and objectives are always so limited. A game like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater could get away with throwing us into a wide variety of interesting locations, which is one of the reasons why it took a half dozen sequels before fans got bored. That's not the case with surfing, since it has to be located in the middle of the ocean. This means that no matter how different each setting looks, it still ends up playing exactly the same as the last stage. And it will be play exactly the same as the next stage, and the one after that.

Surf World Series (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

To the developer's credit, the different locations do look nice. They do a good job of playing with the colors, which look absolutely stunning as they reflect off of the waves. We end up surfing the American coast, the UK, Russia, Australia, Brazil and more. The backgrounds look different and each stage has its own charm, plus you'll see these locations at different times of day, which can really bring the colors out. Sadly, the water and waves don't look as impressive, and I found that I was ultimately underwhelmed by the lackluster presentation.

I suppose the good news is that the game plays better than it looks, but even that is marred by the limited scope of the events and level designs. I had a good time learning how to pull off the moves, but quickly got bored after a couple dozen events. And while I can see this being fun online with friends, I had a hard time finding people to play compete against. The whole thing is a little disappointing.

Although Surf World Series manages to get the basics right, it never figures out how to turn surfing into a compelling sports game. The gameplay is easy to learn and I love the tropical locations, but there's almost no variety in the events, the stages are repetitive and the presentation comes up flat. I still have faith that somebody is going to create the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater of surfing games, but that's not Surf World Series.
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