MTV Sports: Skateboarding Hands-On

MTV Sports: Skateboarding will be the second skateboarding game on the Dreamcast this year. Is it hype enough to skate its way to the number one spot, or will it be overshadowed by the Dreamcast version of the game that started this whole skateboarding craze?

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MTV Sports: Skateboarding Featuring Andy Macdonald is an obvious attempt to cash in on the success of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. While the game is far from complete, it's still far enough along in its current state to give you a solid impression of where the game is going. MTV Sports: Skateboarding is desperately trying to emulate the style of feel of THPS, but there are several key elements that really hold MTV Sports: Skateboarding down.

There are several different modes in MTV Sports: Skateboarding, most of which are your standard skating-game fare. The lifestyle mode is similar to the career mode in THPS, except that you start out as an unknown skater who slowly builds up his or her stats and gains sponsors - although those features aren't in the version we have. The MTV-hunt mode has you skating around looking for different MTV logos, and the free mode simply lets you skate any of the tracks you've unlocked in any of the other modes. The stunt mode is perhaps the most interesting and new element MTV Sports: Skateboarding has to offer. The stunt mode consists of several downhill-styled tracks that force you to jump or grind over large obstacles; the first track is a giant ramp spanning several cars, the third is a city street full of massive potholes.

The gameplay is what really hurts MTV Sports: Skateboarding. The control is set up exactly like THPS, except for a few glaring differences. The biggest setback is the game is simply not as fast as THPS is. MTV Sports: Skateboarding feels slow and clunky, and it takes forever to get up enough speed to perform even the most mild of stunts. Also, there seems to be a real problem with the collision detection and physics of the game. It's not uncommon to suddenly reverse direction for no reason, or to find yourself skating up the side of a wall. Also, the game seems to be pretty unforgiving about landing tricks - land even the slightest bit off and you'll bail.

The graphics in MTV Sports: Skateboarding are easily the game's best asset. The visuals are sharp and clean, and some of the levels look exceptionally good. The players move fairly convincingly, right down to running before they hop on their boards. Unfortunately, there are some real camera issues. The camera will jump around sporadically, especially when you're in the middle of a huge-air trick. The resulting confusion can really put an end to your game - hopefully THQ will fix this before the game ships.

Because of its MTV license, the game sports some fairly hot names in the music biz. To name a few, Cypress Hill, the Deftones, Pennywise, System of a Down, and Goldfinger all lend their unique sound to the game's soundtrack. The sound effects are somewhat pale in comparison. While the sounds of you skating are all good enough, there's an odd crowd cheering and horrid whistling sound that accompanies every successful trick - really ruining the audio experience of the game.

There's plenty of time for THQ and DARKBLACK to clean up the game before it ships in Q3 of this year. While the game lacks in originality, it has the potential to be on par with the game that undoubtedly inspired it - with a good amount of tweaking and revisions, that is.

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