Review: Surf World Series (PS4)

Review: Surf World Series (PS4)


  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV


  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Surf World Series
Format: PSN (1.5 GB)
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Vision Games Publishing
Developer: Climax Studios
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), €14.99 (EU), £11.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
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The extent of my surfing knowledge derives from a few old games and the classic film, Point Break. Not the dreadful remake but the very early 90’s one starring Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, and Gary Busey.

My fondest memories of surfing games always revert to the very old California Games. I played that game obsessively, although I cannot remember if I was any good at the darn thing. There haven’t really been that many since and none that interested me. Surf World Series caught my eye and stirred up all of that nostalgia so I was excited to give it a try.

Unexpected. That is the word which best describes my experience with Surf World Series. In both good and bad ways. First off let me explain the bad. Now, this is mostly my fault and I should point out that I had already written part of a first draft where I slammed the game for the poor controls. It turns out, however, I just failed to read the tutorial pop-ups properly.

I did somehow get through the tutorials not fully understanding how the controls work, therefore some blame must lie with the game. I was trying to press either L1 or R1 to turn while in the air, that is wrong. The majority of commands are given before you take to the air, with only one or two button presses during and as you land for grabs and perfect landing attempts respectively.

Like assembling some flat-packed furniture by only looking at the pictures, I was surprised to have gotten as far as I did before it all went wrong. Part of the problem is that it looked okay and felt right, but before long it would come tumbling down, like my feeble attempts at achieving the required scores in the events. It seemed too difficult and always resulted in my character falling in the drink.

Once I figured out I had to simply preload the turns just like the tricks, the game became much easier and more enjoyable, although not having the feeling of control during the air takes some of the skill away and in some small way, the thrill. Is this what a coach stood on the sidelines feels like, yelling out to their team telling them what to do, but wishing they were the ones doing it?

With a certain time limit for some events and usually a set score to beat things, I longed for some more variety. If it weren’t for the challenges and the absurd amount of tricks to go for, this would get boring rather quickly. I do like seeing my character performing some of the crazy tricks and it’s also mildly entertaining to see them flail in the surf after a wipeout. I also like the “riding in the tube” effect and that balancing act can rack up plenty of points.

Once I got the hang of things I did enjoy the game and can easily see the appeal. The developers at Climax Studios probably made the correct choice in preloading the tricks but personally, I would prefer to have more control. Was it the same in California Games? Maybe, but nostalgia can be a pesky minx sometimes.

There are other surfers off to the side when I start, just sat chilling on their boards but they never do anything else. It feels quite lonely out on the water with not even a bird flying by. Although I could swear I saw something briefly lurking under the water on one occasion.

Aside from the surfer selection scene on the beach, it’s just you and the waves, oh and the tutorial wave pool. There’s no surf shop, no cheering crowds to gaze at, it can feel somewhat spartan.

A large portion of the game is the waves and I’m not going to beat around the bush, they look good. The weather effects could do with a bit more work as the rain, for example, looks nonexistent apart from some spray off the crests.

They’re not the best water effects I’ve seen and my mind always recalls the spectacular water in Wave Race 64. This feels too generic and simple in comparison. It doesn’t even feel like there’s any real difference in wave height even if the indicators say there are three different ones.

There’s no random order to the height pattern either which makes it almost pointless as everyone will almost always wait for the largest wave to come along. The ferocity of waves differs depending on the location, so there is something to look forward to.

There are six surfers, three men and three women with no discernible differences in playstyle, it all seems to be cosmetic. I unlocked some swimwear and boards, of which I can alter the color and patterns or even create new designs.

I have no idea what the stereotypical surfer likes to listen to, but the music in this game is what I would expect. It fits with the game like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was tempted to call it a peanut butter and jam sandwich because I’m British, but that would probably just confuse and upset and Americans reading this.

There are three modes available in the online section but never anyone to play with. I can either host a public or private game or just play online. I’m guessing people will automatically join, but no one ever did. At least I can play the three similar modes while I wait.

Surf World Series is a nice game that works well enough, but for me it fails to excite and thrill. My biggest gripe is the preloading of the tricks and turns. I resorted to pressing random button configurations as trying to learn the patterns would be exhausting and this weakened the experience.

You might love the way the moves and tricks are set before you take to the air and so can just sit back and watch as the surfer executes the commands. I prefer to have more control over the stunts and probably a more arcade-like feel to the tricks.

Now it does seem like I have been really down on this game, and in many respects, I have. But, it’s not a bad game, just not what I expected and in some ways, a little lacking. It does work well enough to be enjoyed by many people I’m sure and for that reason, I would suggest giving it a go if this is your kind of game.


* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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