Difficult, enjoyable, addicting; these are all words that describe Tony Hawk Ride.
Tony Hawk Ride is not an easy game.
Ride is the tenth Tony Hawk game to be published by Activision, although this time the game was developed by Robomoto instead of Neversoft. What's different about this game is that instead of using a controller (which is not at all supported) you use a plastic skateboard deck roughly the size of a real deck.
The concept is simple, sweep your foot past one of the side sensors (there's one sensor for each side of the board, totaling 4) to get moving. Once you're moving you can push down on the tail end of the board to ollie. Turning is handled by pushing down on the toe or heel edge of the board.
The game is separated into about 6 cities that all have multiple levels to complete challenges within. Complete enough challenges within a level to gain another level and potentially (if you've completed the majority of the levels in that city) you can unlock a new city. Game modes are separated into speed, trick, challenge, and free ride. Challenge mode is probably the one that Tony Hawk veterans will connect the most with. Challenge mode involves connecting different rails, ledges, and ramps into one "line" for the highest score.
But we're not here to talk about gameplay features, most people just want to know how well the board functions. Pretty much, my answer to that is:
The board is by no means amazing, sure it's sturdy, but once you attempt to pull a grab you realize it can be a clunky mess. Sensors on each side don't always seem to recognize you attempting a grab and if they do it's usually late enough that it will make you crash. Flip tricks work well, but often times it's hard to get the game to distinguish between trying to do a kickflip and trying to pull a 360 flip. One particular mission had me attempting to pull a grab over the gap of a dam, the gap was easy, but getting the game to recognize that I was simply trying to ollie rather than kickflip was not. It's worth noting that you can't combine a grab with a flip trick, so even though I could manage to ollie the gap, adding a grab to that mixture was like torture trying to get the sensors to work.
The board is at its best when you're connecting grinds at high speeds down the side of a hill. In my opinion that's why casual mode makes this game actually succeed. Without casual mode this game would have been horrible. Casual mode leaves the steering to the computer and just requires you to ollie right on time or pull tricks. Really it's my argument that casual mode could have been the entire game, mainly because it's the mode that feels the most like the old "Top Skater" arcade machine. Free ride on hardcore is kind of nice without the guide rope, but being on rails and not having to worry about the one extra factor of turning is just simply more enjoyable. Why? Because oftentimes you will find yourself turning too much or too little.
I have to put a disclaimer here, the game has been out for only a day, and my review is simply my first impressions from playing. That being said, I'm at the end of my first day and the game still isn't all that easy. The learning curve for this game is sharp, but the game is oddly addicting in that sense. The feeling you get from finally landing the perfect run or beating a session is pretty rewarding.
Overall, the game isn't likely to win any awards, but it is enjoyable. Is it for everybody? Probably not, it takes a lot of patience, but it's fun. To some extent I would really like to see a sequel to this game to fix some of the grab issues. I think the main problem was they were just being a little bit overly ambitious. Turning and grinds are amazing (especially when you switch stances in the middle of a grind) so I think maybe they should have just stuck with that.