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Hands on with Exient's X2 Snowboarding for iPhone

Touchscreening the void

Product: X2 Snowboarding (iPhone) | Developer: Exient | Genre: Simulation, Sports | Networking: wireless (adhoc), Bluetooth
For: iPhone
X2 Snowboarding (iPhone) iPhone, thumbnail 1
You know it doesn't like to talk about it too loudly but Oxford studio Exient is probably one of the best handheld developers in the world.

It's worked on the likes of FIFA, Need for Speed, Tiger Woods and SSX for EA, but now with iPhone, it's getting all independent on your ass with its own games such as X2 Soccer 2009, and now X2 Snowboarding.

Got what it takes?

To-date there have been a selection of snowboarding games on iPhone but none of them have been particularly successful or brilliant - something Exient is hoping to double down on with this release.

It's certainly spent time and money on the development process, which peaked with ten staff working on the game, which has been in development since September 2009. Ensuring attention to detail, all the character animations have been motion captured for realism while various snowboarding brands are also in the game, although we can't talk about exactly who yet.

In terms of the gameplay, there's two control option: tilt or swipe. I preferred the tilt, which has you using your iPhone as a steering wheel to go left and right, and then forward and back to speed up or slow down.

Downhill like a rolling stone

The game is based around six mountain locations - ranging from Switzerland to the US, Canada, Japan and Chile. Each mountain contain one slope which can be played in three way: race, freestyle and trick.

Only two options are open when the game starts and you have to perform well to open up the others.

The mode you're playing determines the best way to approach your descent, and there are multiple routes downhill, depending on what elements of the environment - jumps, rails, branching routes etc - you want to interact with.

In terms of gameplay, there's a big jump button on the left handside of the screen, plus boost and manual buttons on the right handside.

When you're in the air, two snowboards appear on the left and right handside of the screen, each with five hand grab positions. In the air, you can also tilt (or swipe) to do tricks, which gets you points.

It also builds up your Joost meter; a neat gameplay element which you can use either for a speed boost, or to activate a half time slo-mo mode, or to rewind time if you messed up.

You use Joost in different ways depending on the mode. For a racer, you'd probably use it for a speed boost, but for trick, rewind might be best.

You can get some idea how it all work in the following video.

There are six snowboarders to select, each of which has different characteristics in terms of speed, balance and air. You can swap between them for each event you attempt.

As with these games, it will take some time to get familiar with each course and learn the best routes, but X2 Snowboarding has been designed to have a pick-up-and-play sensibility, so you can just have fun; something the cell-shaded graphics and in-game music emphasise.

Snowy extras

Exient has also spent some time on other features, with the ability to save the past 30 seconds of play a neat addition.

Just hit the pause button and you can save out a clip. It's planned that updates to the game will enable you to email this to Facebook and other social networking sites. There are also good options to tweak the sensitivity and tilt centre of the game, if you're using that option as opposed to swiping the screen to move.

All in all then, we're looking forward to see if X2 Snowboarding can claim the crowd for being rad with the white, cold stuff.

And we won't have long to find out. X2 Snowboarding should be out on the App Store during the week starting 8th February, priced $6.99, €5.49 or £3.99.

Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan 5 February 2010
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