STAFF REVIEW of Tony Hawk: Ride (Xbox 360)

Thursday, November 19, 2009.
by Stephen Cameron

Tony Hawk: Ride Box art As a kid I never really did the skateboarding thing. While other kids were doing that I was too busy riding my motocross bike. Then it occurred to me, the skateboarding community was just like us dirt bikers, how? We craved and actively sought after that adrenaline rush, yes, we were junkies. Not to mention considered the crazy people of the planet. But, then a little event called the ?X-Games? was born that changed everything. Then both sports became mainstream, for better or worse.

One of the most notorious stars to emerge from the skateboarding community is none other than the man himself, Tony Hawk. Besides having a really cool name, the guy was simply the best athlete at that time. He has managed over the years to single handedly give the sport (yes, I said sport), not only the boost of acceptance that it needed, but respect. Again, skateboarding wasn?t even considered a sport.

The natural outcome has been the birth of Skateboarding video games; they were becoming more in demand and still coming of age. Activision and several others jumped onto the band wagon, and tried to make the best skateboarding titles available. Good ones and really bad ones. When Activision got a hold of the Tony Hawk name, they?ve managed to publish some of the most legendary skateboarding titles of all time.

Over the years, the traditional partnership has always been Activision and Neversoft, and they?ve managed to corner the skateboard video game market by innovating, and pushing the technology that attempted to best represent the sport. But, there was always something missing. The board.

This year, we welcome a new dawn into the skateboard gaming community, a revolution. Tony Hawk Ride. It was developed by Robomodo, they are a relatively new company based out of Chicago. They?ve taken a radical new and unique approach to the franchise. A ballzy move quite honestly. They?ve engineered a peripheral that actually lets you stand on a plastic skateboard shaped peripheral or controller. It lets you bust out all the moves that you?ve got hidden in that inner thrashing dude. Well, most of them. It houses sensors all the way around the board, to simulate grabs, and the new style mode.

Let me attempt to try and explain how ?Ride? feels. For those of you that share my worst inner gaming fear?you will not be caught dead on a Wii Fit. Well, Ride is the answer, and it makes the Wii Fit look like a door stop! This could very well be the coolest answer to getting into shape, and more fun.

Ride is extremely easy to play. You put some batteries in the board, put it on the floor. Load the game, get on the board, play the game. The whole thing is really elegant, and the board appears to be very durable. I think the only way someone will break this thing, is being over 500 lbs and doing a real Ollie with it. Even that I?m not sure if that will kill it.

When I first played the PAX demo of Ride, I thought that it was a purely linear skateboarding title, but much to my surprise it isn?t. There is a free roaming mode called Free Ride.

Where the game really shines is the ability to play multiplayer locally, not all at once or anything just One player at a time. Players challenge each other by doing as many tricks as possible within a certain set path. The game starts becoming sort like a grunge match, good times, good times.

The game brings you to various locals, like Southern California, Chicago, Tokyo, Frankfurt, and New York each sporting its own unique characteristics and all playable. And you can play, as Tony Hawk, Mike Vallely, Stevie Williams and several others, 15 in total. It?s too bad you can?t take your Xbox Live avatar out for a spin, the Wii version seems to have the ability to do so. Come on Activision, try and give some love to us Xbox 360 folks!

You can also, play multiplayer via Xbox Live, I have a little tip?you might wanna pick up a wireless headset for this one. Simply because the amount of body movement you?re going to do is nuts. You?ll end up killing more headset than any other game, if you don?t.

Graphically, the game looks pretty good, although it could be better. From a graphic design standpoint, the game looks good, but from a graphical technology standpoint, it?s just not up to today?s gaming standards.

In conclusion, Activision seems to be a strong believer in unique hardware gaming experiences, examples like Guitar Hero, DJ Hero and now Tony Hawk Ride. The idea is genius, and a great way to get off the couch and learn a thing or two of the skateboarding sport. Plus, break the monotony of gaming with the generic controller. Ride is the type of game that you have to warm up to, but then is suddenly sucks you into the excitement and you catch yourself trying to beat your last run of tricks, or speed run.

There?s not much else I can really say about Ride, they?ve introduced a whole new controller, and that changes everything in a good way.

On the lighter side, if you have kids like I do, they are going to just love this game. Plus, Tony Hawk himself has poured his heart and soul into this game, and his family loves it, and he loves it, and the people that were not skateboarders love it. Ride is a simple and addicting game for literally all ages. There?s no shooting, no swearing, nor half naked women, just good wholesome clean fun, plus you looks cool in the process!

My fingers are crossed, and I?m seriously hoping that Activision follows the same model as the Guitar Hero series, and let us keep the board kit we bought with Ride and use it on the next few Tony Hawk titles.

Overall: 8.3 / 10
Gameplay: 8.8 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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