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Dark Summit
Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:
Dark Summit is beautiful, and has a dark, almost post-apocalyptic feel to it. You're on the summit of Mt. Garrick, a once beautiful mountain which is now littered with barrels, filled with nasty industrial waste ponds, sealed off with signs, barricades and electrical fences and shrouded in mystery. So right off, you see that this is anything but your average snowboarding game. The environment is 3D, but has almost a 'graphic novel' feel to it. The sound effects for boarding and jumping and such are pretty good. Additionally, there is a lot of 'chatter'; things over the loudspeakers, things being yelled at you by skiers or the SLOW patrol... even dogs chasing you. This banter is fairly incessant, but is varied enough to be amusing rather than outright annoying. As a comical touch, an image is shown in the bottom right of the screen during the chatter; sort of like something out of a news broadcast. You'll see a picture of a skier's face, or a ski patrolman's face, or the loudspeaker ...even a dog.

The music itself is pretty cool. It's kind of edgy, and mates well with the theme of the game.

Dark Summit is sort of a 'Tomb Raider meets SSX. You're an 'agent' of sorts in a group that's trying to discover the secrets of the mysterious closed summit of Mt. Garrick... or you will be, if you prove that you're good enough. What do you have to do to prove yourself? You have to learn to snowboard, grind, ollie, do flips, rail, grind, jib, and whatever else the group can think of. With every successful challenge, you'll find another more daunting task awaiting you. There are 45 challenges and missions in all to reach the summit. Succeed and you'll have access to use all of the agents of the group on the slopes. Fail and, well, you have to try again.

As you successfully pull off tricks, you'll gain 'Equipment Points'. As you gain these points, you'll get access to more outfits and better boards. Finishing challenges will earn you points toward accessing other parts of Mt. Garrick.

Are you the impatient sort? Well, grab a friend and try one of the three two-player games and you'll get to play as everyone in the group before you complete the game. (Not to mention some of the baddies... Now, why isn't the dog in here?!) You can choose from 'Wrecking Ball', a sort of demolition derby on snowboards, 'Race to the Bottom', and 'Half Pipe Battle', where you're fighting to see who can gain the most trick points on the way down.

If you're into snowboarding games, you'll probably catch on pretty quickly to Dark Summit. If you're more into the action/adventure side of things, you're likely to find yourself out of your element. While there are mysteries to be solved and challenges to be met, they take the form of performing stunts on a snowboard, rather than pulling levers or performing acrobatics. (Hmmm, well maybe there's some aerial acrobatics after all...)

As far as actually setting the difficulty level, there's no such option in Dark Summit. If you want to practice, there's a 'practice' option... or you can just hit the slopes and use your practicing to help build up your 'Equipment Points'. Another option is to play one of the three 'Head - to - Head' games and practice your skills there against a friend.

In general, if you're familiar with snowboarding games, it should be a piece of cake. If not, you may want to rent it first to make sure it's you're cup of tea...

Game Mechanics:
Overall, Dark Summit is a good game. Period. Everything works together pretty nicely, and although the game has no user definable difficulty setting, the game is designed to let you advance at your own pace. The three two-player games are a nice touch, as well. In respect to the 'physics engine', it is far from a simulation, but that's perfectly fine for the nature of the game. True, attempting to grind a pipe when you're flying over it is likely to suck you down onto the pipe for a perfect grind without respect to inertia you would have had to keep flying past the pipe, but I've seen worse renditions of this effect in games that are purely an extreme sports game (and not an action/adventure) *cough* *cough* *Jonny Moseley Mad Trix* *cough*...

All in all, Dark Summit defies the lines and boundaries of genre to fill a new and interesting niche.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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