I've played various Tony Hawk games since the Dreamcast and I've had a ton of fun with them, especially playing with others. The past few games with his name has been a hit or miss and it was time the franchise got a reboot. With the popularity of music games using specialized controllers, Tony Hawk Ride looks to head into that direction with a game using a brand new peripheral. While cool in theory, the execution of the game leaves much to be desired.
This isn't the first time I've used a skateboard like peripheral to play a game. A long time ago, Thrustmaster came out with one for the Xbox that I used to play SSX with. It was pretty basic compared to the Tony Hawk Ride controller in that it only sensed leaning and it had a hand held Xbox controller to perform moves. Tony Hawk Ride's controller is much more advanced with some pretty cool technology. Each side has an IR sensor and it can sense tilting. On the side are some console specific buttons and in my case this was for the Xbox 360. It seems to be pretty solid in build quality so it looks like it can take a good deal of punishment. While it looks to be a pretty solid peripheral , the problem comes when you actually playing with it.
When using it in the game though, it just all falls apart. Performance wise, there are times it senses my movements well and other times it just seems to lag a bit. A good example is just trying to start the skateboard by brushing a foot past the side of the board in a pushing motion. At times, it took a few pushes before the onscreen character decided to push the skateboard as well. At other times, I would push and then a second or so later, the character on screen would do the same thing. Another issue is the detection of an ollie over a tilt. To perform an ollie, you need to tilt the board up quickly. The issue is sometimes the board would think you're just tilting the skateboard up thus making miss certain jumps. It happened more so than not to make it really annoying and since the game does force you to be accurate at certain points. Having the game think you're not doing an ollie when you need to do so can really make for a frustrating experience especially at parts in the area where you are asked to.
With how the controller is designed, you’re also limited on what you can do. About the most time seemed to be spent trying to do an ollie. The game does call for you to grab the front or the back of the board to perform some things but I found it much simpler to just take a foot and cover the front or rear sensor. Because of how easily one can fall off the board, I opted to limited myself in doing any rotation of the board unless absolutely necessary. Because of this, it became pretty boring to just do an ollie over and over again. For the first few moments of playing, I was having an OK time but my enjoyment for the game quickly dwindled because of the limited amount of things you could do or do without falling.
You will fall, oh yes you will. I've had a few people of varying degrees of skill try the game out and all fell numerous times even on simple maneuvers. Once you fall you'll probably spend some valuable time trying to get your bearings and getting back on the board in the correct position. Even on the simplest difficulty you will still spend a lot of time falling off the board. When I saw the game at E3, there were hand rails around the demo units. Tony Hawk Ride should include these in the game as it would ease the frustration on trying to use the skateboard controller immensely.
I know a lot of this review is concentrated on the skateboard controller but seeing as the game relies on it and it's just not fun to use, it also makes for a not so fun experience for the game itself. But there are other factors that make Tony Hawk Ride a subpar game. Before each session, you're asked to set your stance in other normal or goofy. The two differences are just whether you face right or left. It asks you to do this every session and I'm curious as to why the game can't just remember the last setting.The load times are atrocious so be prepared to wait long periods of time between playing. If you decide to change your mind about playing a certain mode, have fun waiting some more while it loads.
The game itself, in terms of the single player portion, is damn short. Take a few hours and you're bound to finish everything in the game. Yeah, it's worse than Modern Warfare 2 but at least you won't be fighting the controller in that game for most of the time. In Tony Hawk Ride, the majority of my time seemed to be have been spent just trying to keep myself upright which probably added to the time of an already short game.
Graphics are OK with some nice little touches. There’s nothing here to really make the game stand out graphically as the models, textures, and design aren’t anything special to talk about. Although I did like the effect when you activate your multiplayer where a sort of light trail followed you when you performed tricks. The character animation isn't too bad but can be wooden at times. Overall, Tony Hawk Ride looks like an average game compared to what’s out there today on the Xbox 360.
Tony Hawk Ride is a failed experiment in trying to reboot the franchise. The skateboarding peripheral seems like a well built item but the implementation needs work. I know Activision is hoping to develop more games for the thing but I don't know if it's such a good idea. Even simple tricks on the thing can throw you off and people usually stop playing after being frustrated a lot with a new controller. There's nothing in the game that really makes you want to come back for more and you're limited to the tricks to perform. I'll give them props for trying something different but this one should've been scrapped after a few test trials. I wanted to like the game but it was just too hard to play without being frustrated and given the expensive price tag of the game, it's hard to recommend Tony Hawk Ride at all to anyone.
While the skateboard controller seems to feel well built, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. You'll be spending more time fighting with the controller than trying to have fun with the game. Even then, the game's just not that enjoyable. Maybe next time Tony.