It has been many years since a Tony Hawk game has been relevant and, sadly, that doesn’t look like it is going to change this year. Activision and Robomodo took a year off last year to try and reinvigorate the Tony Hawk brand and came back with Tony Hawk RIDE, a game where you control the action yourself on a skateboard peripheral. In theory this should work and I do really like the skateboard itself. It is a great piece of technology and one that I hope gets used some more in the future. Tony Hawk RIDE the game, however, is a bit of a mess. You have your standard single player mode as well as a party mode and play over Xbox Live. There is also a special training mode that everyone will have to utilize at least once until they are used to doing things on a skateboard.
The single player component has two modes. You can either play exhibition where you can just fool around and not have to worry about anything or you can do the “road trip” mode which is the main campaign mode. You are presented with three levels of difficulty for the game and you will want to pay attention to which one you pick. If you pick the casual difficulty then steering the skateboard and everything like that is taken care of for you as the game kind of plays itself. The only thing you have to worry about is hitting the jumps at the right times and successfully pulling off a number of tricks. If that is a little too easy for you then you can go into the “confident” difficulty where you will have full navigation with only a little bit of help and then there is the “hardcore” mode where you are completely on your own. One of the problems the game faces with these difficulty levels is the insane and unbalanced learning curve. The “casual” setting might be too easy or to boring for some, however, if you go up to the next difficulty the learning curve is so steep that it might completely turn off some gamers that don’t want to put in the time to really learn the game’s mechanics. Using the skateboard peripheral was theoretically supposed to make the game more intuitive, however, the execution of the game itself prevents that from happening. One of the big problems that I was having in the game was the response time between the game and the peripheral. There were times where it would take an extra second or two for the game to register what I was trying to do which is inexcusable in a game where you need to time your jumps just right so you can successfully hit the trick or jump over to the next area. There were times where I would try to perform an ollie where it wouldn’t register at all unless I almost slammed the board on to the ground once I lifted the nose up. There were also times where you would have to jump up to hit an icon or do a specific trick while you were in the air and with the timing being off it could be hard to do. I would also end up doing some tricks that I didn’t intend to due to this delay. It became really frustrating if I was having a good run and then something as simple as that would totally screw everything up for me and I would have to start over.
Going through the campaign you will visit six locales with a bunch of different locations within them. You start out in Southern California and get to hit Venice Beach, the LA River, the Venice Beach Half Pipe and more. There really isn’t any cohesiveness to this at all as once you finish your objective you are kicked back out to the menu to select what you want to do next. It’s kind of like how Burnout was before Paradise came out where you would do one race or event and then you were kicked out to the menus. I got annoyed when that happened then and it is still annoying now. You aren’t even given an indication of how well (or poor) you did after each session. You have to completely back out to see what your point total was to see if you should play that event again or move on to the next one. Another annoyance is the fact that you need to unlock everything in each difficulty. If I am towards the end of the game and I am at a part where I want to try it on a different difficulty then I won’t be able to unless I am at that spot on the higher difficulty as well. That’s a really poor decision on the developer’s part and will definitely limit replayability as most people aren’t going to want to go through this title multiple times just to play a certain area on the different levels of difficulty.
The idea for Tony Hawk RIDE has merit, it just wasn’t executed very well in this instance. I do hope that other games come along that utilize the skateboard peripheral and that it doesn’t become a piece of plastic that I will never use again. A snowboarding game could potentially work well or a Tony Hawk RIDE 2 title as long as they fix everything that went wrong with this version. The skateboard is a nice piece of technology and holds a lot of potential. We just need someone who can match that potential on the software side.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network