A Frustrating Ride

Tony Hawk: Ride
Reviewed On
Xbox 360
Available For

Innovative Board Control Has Teething Pains

We all knew the Tony Hawk series was due for an overhaul, but I didn’t expect anything like this!

First, a recap. I didn’t play the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater until it was published by Crave for the Dreamcast in 2000. I was hooked and played it nonstop, and both 2 and 3 were as close to perfection as you can get. However, as the series went on it started to get stale, real quick. The last game I played in the series was Project 8, meaning I didn’t even give Proving Ground a try. After the annoying close up feature that was in Project 8, I had enough.

And no, I didn’t go over to EA’s rival Skate series. Just playing the demo made me sick.

However, when I heard the E3 announcement of Tony Hawk: Ride and that it would feature a new skateboard controller, I guess you can say I was interested. After all, I am curious to see how new controllers of this caliber would work out. For the longest time, I thought that in addition to the board, you would have to hook up additional sensors to your console like the Power Glove or the Wii.

That’s not the case here. The skateboard controller has four infrared sensors, one on each side of the board, with all the buttons on the left side. The start button is the largest on the panel, making it easy to press with your right foot if in normal stance (left foot if you do goofy stance.) Menu selections are done by tilting the board right and left, confirmation by doing an ollie (tilting the back of the board down) and cancellation by doing a nollie (tilting the back of the board forward.)

And just describing the way you do options with the board shows the frustration I am about to describe. Thankfully they can also be chosen with the control pad.

But let’s get to the way the board responds to the game, or try to in my opinion. Starting the board off is done by brushing either foot to the side of the board, and it does work. It might work too well in fact as it seems that any motion while idle will get the board moving.

Standard ollies (or jumps) are done by kicking up the front of the board, and nollies are done the opposite way. Manuals are performed by tilting the board slightly, not too much to cause an ollie/nollie, and holding it. Again, this works but not too well.

It’s the tilt and flip tricks that start to create the madness. Tilt tricks are done by tilting the board to one side after performing an ollie/nollie, and flip tricks are done instead by rotating the nose or tail board clockwise or counterclockwise.

I admit that I am not the most agile person out there, and trying to get these moves to work was a nightmare. In the training runs I could probably get them to work about 40 percent of the time, and the rest of the time I spent cursing at the board. It was that frustrating.

I mean, I wasn’t expecting this board to be the precursor to Project Natal, but I’d like to at least get some 1:1 responsiveness, especially for a $120 price tag. Maybe this was what Kudo Tsunoda meant about those waggle commands, because that’s what riding the board turned into.

As for the game itself, it’s based on rail based tracks where you perform tricks in a closed environment. On Casual difficulty, steering is done for you, but you can control where to go via tilting the board at specified junctions. But when you get to Confident difficulty, you control steering and its irresponsiveness adds to the madness tenfold. Hardcore control takes this even further. After I finished with the board, I was in complete pain.

The heart of the game comes in the weak by Tony Hawk standards Career mode. Basically it’s a world tour of various locations which center on three different skill modes. Race mode, similar to the arcade game Top Skater (which ironically controlled much better, for a 1997 arcade game) where you do tricks and grinds to collect green time balloons while avoiding red time penalty balloons. Trick modes feature the classic Tony Hawk formula of stringing tricks in a set time limit on the course to get the highest score. And then there is the Challenge mode: the dreaded Challenge mode which requires you to perform specific moves with the board. If I can’t even get the board to determine the difference between an ollie and a manual, how am I going to chain complex moves together?

Needless to say I am left completely frustrated with Tony Hawk Ride. While it might look pretty good, I do like the slight cel shading the graphics used, even that was marred with an overdose of T-Mobile. Do I need to see the Sidekick every other screen? Now THIS is why I went off on in-game advertising during a recent GiN Lounge!

At least the soundtrack for the game works out, featuring bands such as Wolfmother, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the Commodores to name a few. Score one for Ride, as I think that’s all it’s going to get.

Seriously though, at $120 Tony Hawk Ride is not worthy of a purchase, unless you have a penchant for frustration. Take that money and spend it on DJ Hero; you’ll definitely get your money’s worth that way.

And as for the board, it decided to get the last laugh. After returning to the Xbox Dashboard, it started to take control of everything, even loading up Zune Marketplace without my input! Guess it wanted to rip more money out of my pocket as punishment!

PROS: At least the board can take a lot of stress (unless you weigh more than 300 pounds.) Good soundtrack.

CONS: But it only works when it decides to as it’s very unresponsive. What should be fun is simply maddening! And you can buy this frustration for the low, low price of $120! Since T-Mobile is splashed all over the game, they should supplement some of those costs!

Platforms: , ,
Share this GiN Article on your favorite social media network: