The MTV license has to be one of the oddest licenses around, particularly when you consider the games that have been attached to the MTV name. Rather than exploit some of MTV's actual properties, the name is simply tagged onto games that might appeal to the same audience that watches Total Request Live religiously. But MTV Sports: Skateboarding, THQ's latest entry in its MTV Sports line, couldn't possibly appeal to anyone. With a seemingly random frame rate, stiff and ugly animation, and a control scheme that fights you every step of the way, MTV Sports: Skateboarding Featuring Andy Macdonald serves no other purpose than to act as an excellent example of how not to make a skateboarding game.
On paper, the game has an attractive list of modes. There's a freeplay mode, for when you just want to skate; a lifestyle mode, which serves as the game's main career mode; an icon collection mode, which requires you to grab a set number of MTV icons before time runs out; a stunt mode, which lets you do things like fly down giant ramps and jump over cars and bridges; a survival mode; and a high score contest. Multiplayer modes include a simple trick battle mode, a time bomb mode, a two-player MTV icon hunt, and a "knock the other guy off his board" deathmatch.
The licensing in this game runs rampant. There is, of course, the MTV license. The game also has several professional skaters, including Andy Macdonald, Keith Hufnagel, Stevie Williams, and Colin McKay. Lots of company logos are found throughout the game, such as Swatch, Airwalk, DC, Sobe, Porn Star, and Adio. Additionally, licensed music from bands like Cypress Hill, the Deftones, System of a Down, Goldfinger, and Pennywise is played throughout the game.
At first glance, the controls are similar to those of games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. But some adjustments have been made. For starters, you can't spin with the D-pad. The L and R triggers are used for midair spinning, as well as maintaining your balance on rails. The game has a large collection of tricks, but each skater has the same set of tricks, making the difference between skaters little more than slightly better rail balance, faster acceleration, or better turning abilities. The game does have a nice collection of flatland tricks, though, including manuals, powerslides, handstands, and kickbacks. The game also features a lot of levels, but most of them are uninspired rampfests, without the nice flowing lines contained in other recent skate games.
When it isn't moving, MTV Skateboarding looks tolerable. But the minute you start moving, the game's painful graphical flaws become glaringly apparent. While the game runs at a tolerable frame rate most of the time, when you're looking at a larger section of the level, the game becomes extremely choppy. Ditto for when you're doing vert tricks. The higher you go, the more the game chugs. Some of the tricks look OK, but the utter lack of transition animations makes your skater look like some sort of evil skating robot. The crashes are especially awful, as your skater seems to warp from the start of the crash to immediately laying on the ground. Sometimes, you'll fly full speed into a wall and your skater will simply stop moving - no wreck, no "ugh" noise, no nothing.
The choppy frame rate infringes on the gameplay as well, since it prevents you from ever really achieving a real sense of timing. As if that weren't bad enough, the controls are evilly unresponsive, making accurate jumping a nightmare and wild midair combos significantly more difficult than they should be. It's as if your button presses don't register for half a second or so after you hit them.
MTV Skateboarding is a perfect example of cashing in on a recently established genre - it looks good enough on the back of the box suck you in, but it brings absolutely nothing to the table once the shrinkwrap is removed. Do yourself a favor and stick with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, which is wildly superior in every imaginable way.