We haven't had a snowboarding game in a while, let alone a good one – and you could say the same of the entire extreme sports genre as a whole. The last shredding simulator came out in 2012, and even then it wasn't a very good one; it seems that the golden age of SSX and Shaun White Snowboarding on PS2 is well and truly over. Mark McMorris Infinite Air seeks to bring this genre back to its original heights, but make no mistake: this is not the next SSX.
That doesn't mean that HB Studios' first extreme sports outing is particularly bad, however. In fact, the controls are quite simplistic and easy to pick up. Carving and switching the direction of your board are handled by the sticks, and doing tricks is quite similar to Skate's system in which you flick to right stick to ollie/nollie as well as perform tricks. The left and right triggers also correspond to your rider's hands, which is a nice touch.
While the general controls feel quite intuitive, there are a few problems. For one, it's quite hard to control your rotation in the air when you flip or barrel roll, making it almost impossible to land more complex tricks, leading to frustration. There are tutorials to help you pick up the controls, but they only go as far as a few tooltips and a passive-aggressive teacher who sounds like he'd rather slather himself in blood and jump into a shark tank than help you.
Once you've got the hang of the game, there are three main modes to get stuck into. Circuit Mode is made up of increasingly difficult courses, as well as challenges that allow you to unlock cosmetic items for your character. While you do race a pro snowboarder (including the titular Morris McMarkus) at the end of each tier of circuits, for most of the time you're on your own. A few of these courses are fun to explore and experiment on with new tricks, but it would've been nice to have a few multiple player races to add some variety and excitement.
You can also explore a randomly generated open world and freely snowboard around, but the maps generated are often boring and devoid of personality. There is a mountain created by the developers, but for some odd reason, you have to search for it in the same place that you search for user-generated content, which is a bit of pain.
Naturally, the availability of user-generated runs and worlds means that you yourself can create your own mountain in the World Editor, first by choosing the seed that generates your mountain, then by placing props around to create your own snow parks. It's a nice feature that allows you to create really fun runs that give you insane amounts of air, and downloading content made by other users gives the game longevity and replayability.
In that, however, lies a big problem with Infinite Air: the fun that you'll have is entirely dependent on the community. Sure, the developer will be adding new props in future updates, but the game has a lack of personality; it seems more like a blank slate for the community to build onto than a comprehensive snowboarding game, and the fact that the studio only built one map to play on doesn't seem enough – this is a £30 game, mind.
Mark McMorris Infinite Air gets the fundamentals roughly right and has quite a bit of customisation, but that's about all there is to it. It's a blank, newly laid sheet of snow – fresh and clean, but nothing exciting comes of it.