The Sports Desk – Discovering Infinite Air
The promises for HB Studios' Infinite Air sound simple but grand – allow players to create mountains filled with runs and stuff to trick off of, and then drop in/drop out of any creation at any time. But, as the developer showed with The Golf Club, these lofty claims are indeed legitimate. I played a beta version of Infinite Air, and came away with a trio of observations about the slope star.
The downside of sledding when you were a kid was that once you reached the end of the run, you had to trudge back up the hill (and again if you dropped your sled on the way up). Thankfully, Infinite Air's helicopter is ready at a moment's notice to take you wherever you want to go. While there are boundaries to the game's mountains, it's easy to cruise around the environment and go to a particular part of the mountain or a marker for a race, back country exploration, halfpipe, etc.
Beyond that, the game lets you record/create and rewind runs while you're playing, which is yet another accessibility feature that helps you get to the good stuff and stay there.
The game features circuits of challenges for customization rewards, but the way it lets you access its mountains and the content therein (including any created by other players) is the real meat.
Infinite Air's trick system is based more on physics than set animations initiated by specific button presses. In my relatively short time playing the game, the effect is split. There were some things that felt smooth like carving or tricks I was good at, but there were other things I'm still not used to. For instance, there are multiple ways to generate spin during tricks, and I had a hard time judging how many rotations I was going to perform and, consequently, how to stick the landing. While there certainly isn't a "stop rotating" button, I didn't want to spin too fast, because it made landing tricks hard.
The one thing I liked about Infinite Air's tricks is the grab system. It's as simple as pressing the appropriate trigger (or both) to choose which hand to use, and then moving the right analog to correspond to the area of the board you want to grab. It makes performing cool tricks less about memorizing specific button inputs and more about just doing what you want in the moment.
The thing I'm interested in when I play more of the game is, given the trouble I had gauging my boarder's spins, whether I can expect to consistently perform tricks at any given moment. It's not unreasonable to expect different results given my speed, timing, and the geography, but to what extent this impacts my enjoyment remains to be seen.
The Golf Club did well with its world building – no small feat when you consider that the feature has to combine a good HUD with tool functionality – and Infinite Air's is easy to use.
Whether you're creating a whole mountain from scratch (choosing the steepness, powder type, overall ruggedness, and more) or editing a section of an existing mountain, it doesn't take long to make your own fun. The beta currently has a limited number of rails, ramps, nature (trees, rocks, and bushes), and buildings to place (more are coming at and after launch), but the most impressive part of the environment creation is the Snap feature. This lets you join objects in a natural way. For example, I placed some rails and ramps in the snow, and then created a half pipe that I snapped to them. This made the half-pipe integrate the rails, etc. inside the pipe. You can also use this to connect sections of rails and in general link objects to one another.
Like the Golf Club, you can also terraform the mountain, and sharing and playing others' creations is a big part of the experience. Infinite Air is in beta right now, so there's not a larger structure to the player-created content at the moment, but I expect the developers to highlight and group content in different ways as the community takes shape – just like they've done with The Golf Club.
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WRC 6 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) October 7
Driveclub VR (PlayStation 4) October 13
Infinite Air (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) October 25
Football Manager 17 (PC, Mac, Linux) November 4
Motorsport Manager (PC, Mac) November 10
Steep (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) December 2
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.
Download & Print FIFA 17 Cover Art For Your Favorite Premier League Club
Also includes branded FIFA 17/club digital backgrounds
Don Bradman Cricket 17 Demo Adds Stadium Creator
Not only can you create your favorite stadium now, but it can be played in and shared thanks to the update. For more on the game, check out our previous Sports Desk entry.
Hardcore Madden 17 CFM XP Tool
Website Deep Dive Gaming has put up a calculator so you can see how much XP it would cost for your player to raise their attribute ratings. Absorbing stuff. More CFM advice in our Sports Desk guide as well.
Madden 17 Ultimate Team Auction House Goes Down
EA took down the MUT auction house after a Reddit user (via Operation Sports) discovered a glitch whereby a set supposedly requiring five elite players (for an 87 elite) could be completed with any five players, even bronzes. EA has removed any rewards gotten from the glitch from users' accounts, and offered 10,000 coins as compensation.