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by THQ

52002_09-01.jpg (5769 bytes)Dark Summit is a game that I wanted to like more than I actually did. Everything that I had read about the game suggested that this was something different, and I’m always looking for something different. From what I had read, the game seemed to infuse a narrative structure into the traditional trick/race games of the past. This game promised to be more than just getting to the end of the track first or pulling the most tricks in a simple jump. This game promised that there would be a reason for all of this. The good news is that there is a reason, and the story is actually kind of interesting. The bad news is that the gameplay just doesn’t live up to its tricky predecessor.

52002_12-01.jpg (6717 bytes)Something shady is happening on the slopes of Mt. Garrick. And, in the rebellious spirit of snowboarders everywhere, you stand up against the powers that be in order to free the mountain from the grip of shady doers. As Naya, it’s your job to foil the dastardly plans of the military. There are plenty of tricks to perform and a number of races to wage. Overall the game plays well and is pretty entertaining; it just seems to lack that thing that really gets me excited about a new video game. I just wish that I knew exactly what that thing was.

52002_14-01.jpg (6986 bytes)Perhaps, if I look at the individual parts of the game I might get a better idea as to why it just didn’t gel with me. First off, the graphics are good, the animations are nicely rendered and there is a ton of detail crammed into the mountain. One of the nicest features of the game is how certain objects react when you collide with them. Not only will you knock down a snowman in your path, but his various body sections will roll down the hill alongside you for great distances. My only complaint in the graphics department was a nagging feeling of claustrophobia. I felt more closed in than I should have on a massive mountain. As I played, I was acutely aware that there were a very specific number of paths that I could take. Other snowboarding games really work hard at giving you the illusion that the mountain is completely open. Dark Summit’s designers probably felt that gamers would be so distracted by all of the goals that they wouldn’t notice how few places they could go.

52002_07-01.jpg (7051 bytes)The mountain was big but a little monotonous. It felt like whenever I unlocked a new path I was pretty much going over the same thing. The dark atmosphere and design would have had a little more impact if there had been a few levels to contrast with the oppressive feel of things.

52002_04-01.jpg (7065 bytes)Even though the game maintains a decent framerate, the overall pace of the game is pretty slow. I really wanted a sense of speed and depth. The slopes of the courses are much too gradual to really give the sensation of flying down the mountain at breakneck speed. Some reviews have talked about how long the tracks actually are, but I’m not sure if the tracks are incredibly long or if you’re going so slow that they just seem long. The modified speed of the game also seems to make the tricks a little easier to perform than in other similar games.

52002_08-01.jpg (7341 bytes)If you’re going to flout the conventions of the snowboarding genre, why not throw a rocket launcher into the mix. At times I felt like I was in a sequence out of a James Bond film rather than a snowboard game; I just didn’t have any cool gadgets. Cool gadgets would have gone a long way towards boosting my opinion of Dark Summit. This isn’t a bad game. In fact, most people will enjoy playing the game for some time. They’ll get a kick out of the design and the story elements, but I think that after a good deal of playing they’ll have the nagging suspicion that something is missing. Like me, they may not be able to nail it down precisely, but they will feel it. Give it a rent, play it for a few days and you’ll have a pretty good time until something else comes out. I know it’s not the most enthusiastic recommendation, but you’ll see what I mean when you play it.

Jason Frank   (05/13/2002)


Ups: Nice graphics; interesting combo of story and race/trick elements; easy controls.

Downs: A bit limited; too short.

Platform: Gamecube