Mark McMorris Infinite Air is a snowboarding game that strives to be endless. HB Studios created a procedurally-generated open world mountain. The courses themselves are static but shuffle to different locations on the mountainside each time you play. The idea is that no two rides through the open world ever feel the same.
An introductory tutorial was curiously absent from the start, leaving the player to fend for themselves as they are dropped in an open-world. The majority of the time I dislike tutorials, but for a new game series it is important for establishing the rules of the world.
Mark McMorris Infinite Air has more in common with Skate than with Tony Hawk. This is a game in search of a more discerning player that isn’t just looking for a cheap thrill. The simple controls allow for basic snowboard control but take some getting used to for pulling off tricks. When bailing on a flip or roll I could never tell if it was my fault or the game’s.
Other weird choices were in the description of the respawn buttons (X) and (A). The description would have you believe these two buttons serve the same function. This is in fact false. One will undo progress, while the other will place you upright after a wipeout. Getting these two mixed up is a frustratingly catastrophic mistake.
Icons beaconing you to different courses show up as you ride down the mountainside. Some are simple ramps while others will require grinding, riding a half-pipe, or even massive long jumps. The challenge is in being able to find a through-line that encourage the rider to improvise on the way down.
Lines will appear on the mountain to guide you down through what would otherwise be an overwhelming path to newcomers. A helicopter is available to help you move about the mountain but a respawn back to the summit is a button press away.
Sadly, the multiplayer couldn’t be properly tested. At the time of this writing I could find very few games online or parties to ride down the mountain with. The few games I could play were asymmetric.
Players can choose from a variety of professional snowboards like Mark McMorris, Silje Norendale or customize their own. There is also an assortment of gear such as clothes, boards, and goggles to outfit a rider. This equipment is superficial only.
A world-maker is also part of Mark McMorris Infinite Air. Crafty players can sculpt from the highest peaks to the precise placement of a grinding rail. If you can dream it, you can make it, then upload your creation for other players to enjoy.
The gameplay is smooth; unfortunately its graphic engine is not. In addition to flickering textures, geometry pop-in is also an issue. Thankfully the frame rate and the draw distance can keep up, making the pop-in a minor issue.
Infinite Air isn’t about graphics: it’s about creating a smooth simulation with light fantastical elements. A mountain that isn’t the same open-world twice is a good idea for a snowboarding game. Such ideas reduce repetition. This is a fundamentally decent game being held back by minor UI and graphical problems. Awkward design choices are preventing what could be the Skate equivalent of the modern snowboarding game from being the best it could possibly be.
Sidenote: Mark McMorris Infinite Air was obtained from the publisher for the purposes of review.