Tony Hawk: Ride Feet-On Preview

 
When the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater hit the streets, it was lauded for its innovation. It took a sport that was rising in popularity and helped make it a pop culture phenomenon, cementing the franchise as one of gaming’s landmark series. Unfortunately, wear and tear over the past decade has shown the series’ age, primarily due to the fact that the sequels have never shaken themselves too far from its traditional roots. While the tricks have gotten bigger and more extreme and the graphics have been perfected, no drastic change gameplay changes have occurred… until now.

With Tony Hawk: Ride, Activision is looking to spice things up again. Instead of focusing on interpretative controls–where a button press results in an onscreen action–Ride attempts to merges the onscreen and off-screen action in a way not yet seen. The game will ship with a skateboard controller full of high-tech accelerometers and sensors that allow the board to discern player movements and translate them onscreen. But will it actually work?

After a quick skateboarding crash course, I was ready to take things for a spin myself. The demo we played was on-rails, as the player would skate through a predetermined course and allow us to perform tricks at various preset points. After a few run-throughs, I found myself performing almost all of the basic moves. This was mostly due to the developer walking me through the process, as I think that this title might be a tad difficult for those who are not yet familiar with skateboarding. Then again, this isn’t a game that can be adequately shown in such a hurried and frenzied environment as E3. Hopefully, Robomodo is taking the necessary precautions by including some detailed tutorials.

 

During our brief time with the game, it was hard not to be impressed by the quality of the board. This isn’t your typical plastic peripheral, as it does more than just a simple balance board. Sensors on each side allow for grabs, and you can spin it around for a quick rotation move without lifting the board off of the ground. When I asked about the price point, I was informed that those decisions had not been made yet, though Gamestop is showing a $119.99 price point for all three versions of the game.

In the end, Tony Hawk: Ride is a game that you need to keep on your radar. It takes the series in an exciting new direction, but we won’t know if this trick lands or falls flat until the game releases later this year on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii.

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