Mark McMorris Infinite Air Preview
Right at the beginning, Mark McMorris Infinite Air drops you into its open backcountry and you are hurtling down the side of a mountain, strapped to nothing but a snowboard. As you look up, you see that snow-covered peaks stretch from end to end of the horizon, and it really does seem to go on forever. Infinite Air boasts that it delivers a more realistic snowboarding experience that is still exhilarating, and I find I must agree.
With its accurate physics and true-to-life runs, I found myself engrossed in Infinite Air as it really does feel like I’m up in the mountains. While there aren’t any ludicrous tricks or flashy superpowers, the maneuvers you can do are realistic and make the game feel authentic. The physics of Infinite Air are amazing, from the tricks to landing them — not that I would know beyond watching the Winter Olympics. I snowboard, but I’m going down those blue runs slowly and poorly, not flipping around on halfpipes or grinding any rails. Whether struggling through fresh powder or hurtling down runs, playing the game feels completely natural, and that is what makes it thrilling. There are no impossible flips and there aren’t any avalanches chasing after you, so you are never taken out of the experience by disbelief. However, it is pretty funny when I crack my head on a tree and Mark casually says “Dude, do you need me to call patrol?” Thanks, Mark.
“Infinite Air boasts that it delivers a more realistic snowboarding experience that is still exhilarating, and I find I must agree.”
While the game is on PC, Infinite Air only has gamepad support, and I used an Xbox 360 controller. The game focuses on the thumbsticks and triggers for all tricks and there is a huge selection of them to learn, all taken from the real world. The controls are a bit challenging to pick up, and the tricks and their landings really do take some practice to make perfect, adding to the realism of the game.
Along with its open world, Infinite Air also features Circuit Mode, multiplayer, and different kinds of runs and competitions. Circuit Mode is a set of different runs with challenges you can complete to unlock the next tier of a more difficult set of runs. At the end of each tier, you compete against a boss, one of the pro snowboarders featured in the game. If you beat them, they are unlocked and become playable. Open World mode gives you several mountain ranges to choose from. You fly around on a helicopter, pick a mountain, and drop down anywhere to board, which is a lot more stylish than taking a gondola.
I found the World Editor to be absolutely wild. It let me put stacks and stacks of snow on top of each other, jab a half pipe through it, and build two cabins on top of the monstrosity. You can create and name your own mountains, and once the full version of the game is out, players will be able to create and publish their own runs: whether they be Slopestyle, Big Air, or Halfpipe runs.
The cosmetic customization in Infinite Air is just good fun; I even found a pair of Oakley goggles that matched the ones I own in real life. You can customize everything, right down to the bindings of your snowboard, with more options that can be unlocked. The visuals aren’t anything special as the assets generally look the same, but there is something to be said about flying in a helicopter, seeing a whole mountain range before you and knowing that this is your playground. With the limited HUD alongside the sound of the wind buffeting against you, it actually feels as if you are snowboarding. Infinite Air comes with a small selection of songs which fade into the background as you concentrate on tricks, as if you have some earbuds in while you’re carving down a mountain alone.
Overall, Infinite Air is a light, realistic snowboarding game shaping up to be a great experience; I can’t wait until the full game is released and players begin creating their own runs and competing against each other. I look forward to when it comes out on October 25th so I can try out everything the game has to offer.
***A PC preview code was provided by the publisher***