Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review: Project Powder

Project Powder
F2P Online Snowboarding Game
Official Website
It has been a long time since I played a snowboarding game, mostly because all the resent ones tried too hard to be realistic, and were just not any fun to play. My all time favorite was Twisted Edge for the Nintendo64, for just throwing realism to the wind, and letting you do completely impossible stunts, and tricks while free falling 500 feet off a jump. In a lot of ways Project Powder brings me back to those good old days. Then again in a lot of ways it reminds me why I am getting increasingly frustrated with F2P design practices.

Visually Project Powder is one of the nicer looking free online games out there right now, especially considering how well it runs with all the graphics wide open on a fairly low end rig. The art style, while leaning towards animeish is not so overtly cartoony that it would turn off people not into that sort of thing, though some of the more recently added course designs do border on the bazaar, like the one where half the track you are snowboarding on grass in an Japanese style sakura garden. My only complaint about the graphics is the default screen resolution is very low, and there is no resolution option for the game at all, so your only choices are playing in full screen pixelyness or play in a claustrophobic 800x600 box.

Music = fail. I do not claim to know what makes for a good authentic snowboarding soundtrack, but I know for damn sure it is not Sonic Adventure style butt rock, mixed in with techno remixes of old Christmas music. Whoever did the music for this game should be fired, and whoever gave the okay to put this crap in the game should be fired too.

Digging into the meat of the game itself, Project Powder has several game modes you can play in, a Coin Grab mode where the object is to grab the most coins before reaching the finish line, Battle, which plays is like a snowboarding Mario Kart, and then you have your standard Race, and Team Race modes. All of which are entertaining enough, and tricks are a breeze to learn as your character levels up, and unlocks more advanced stunts, which you can then add spins, and flips to by simply pressing the left or right arrow keys or the back arrow key while preforming. This can result in some truly hilarious looking mid air flailing once you get the hang of the game, as you take to the sky, and start breaking out a frenzied series of tricks, and holds all the while spinning madly on both horizontal, and vertical axis at the same time, however by level 14 you can have all possible tricks available to learn, after which your level mostly just serves as symbol for how long you have played, since it servers very little else.
There is a pretty decent number of courses in the game, but most of them are very short, and liner, with few alternate paths or big jumps to do all the crazy stunts in the game. Half the time it takes longer to get into a lobby, and get into a race then it does to actually run it.

A big beef I have with Project Powder is the lag, especially when it comes down to the wire at the finish line, I lost count of how many races it looked like I won only for the game to switch me to 2nd 3rd, hell even 4th, or 5th after crossing the finish line because according to the server the person. or persons, behind me were actually in front of me. But my most major kvetch I have at least with the English version of Project Powder is the games host OutSpark took the vast majority of the games items, and clothing, and dumped them all into the cash shop, leaving the players in game money virtually worthless for anything but unlocking the laughably small roster of characters to play. There are literally entire stores in the game that sell nothing at all because OutSpark put the entire inventory in the cash shop, leaving only the most dull, and boring boards, and outfits untouched. A total dick move to be sure, however one that is actually doing the reverse of what they intended.

With no real use for the in game money, and no character progression beyond lv14, there is little reason for most people to stick around long enough to even think about paying real money for anything. So the games population is completely, and unsurprisingly low. And I do not expect Project Powder to last very long if they insist on sticking to this strategy.

Project Powder is actually a pretty fun little game, and definitely worth trying, but it has absolutely no longevity what so ever. It is a good entertaining distraction for about a week, but I doubt many will find themselves hanging around it for much longer then that.

No comments:

Post a Comment