The game isn't set up like most Tony Hawk games, where you have a large level full of conveniently placed objects for you to grind and trick off of. Instead the game gives you a series of short, mostly linear locations for you to ride through. In this sense the game feels like a gigantic step backwards, offering only a few items to trick on instead of a whole city to master. We start out in Southern California, then make your way to Chicago, New York and so on so forth. These are interesting places; it's a shame that they are so limited in this game's structure.
Unfortunately the cool level designs aren't the only thing to get the boot in this Tony Hawk reboot. You'll quickly discover that the traditional challenges are nowhere to be found, the multiplayer has been scrapped for something new and the sense of exploration has been completely removed. Instead we get something that looks and feels more like a poorly designed Skate rip-off than a real Tony Hawk game. And that's one of my biggest complaints, even if the board worked flawlessly, it still wouldn't look or feel like a Tony Hawk game.
Each of the game's six cities is broken up into multiple locations with different game modes to beat. The game modes are always the same, so don't expect a lot of surprises in Tony Hawk Ride. Chicago, for example, offers two different areas (Lower Wacker Drive and Lopp Plaza), each with a Speed mode, Trick mode and Challenge mode. Earn enough points in these modes and you'll be able to move on to a half-pipe challenge, where you actually have to change the way the board is facing and learn a whole new set of moves. Once you've completed that you can move on to the final challenge, which will give you a set of rules and a score to beat. Do all this and you're off to the next city, where you'll end up doing it all over again.
But let's not gloss over the various game modes found in each location. The Speed mode is definitely my favorite, as it involves you speeding through the narrow levels trying to beat somebody else's best time. You manipulate time by collecting green icons that subtract time from the clock, and avoiding the red icons that add time to the clock. There's also the Trick mode, which has you going through the same level pulling off tricks and grinding on anything that gets in your way. At the end of the run your score will be judged against the computer's scores and you will be awarded points.
These two modes are easily the most enjoyable parts of Tony Hawk Ride. It's possible for you to completely mess up in one of these modes and still have a reasonably good time playing the game. Sadly that is not the case for the Challenge mode. In this mode you are given a series of moves to pull off, once you've accepted the challenge the game puts you on the right track and it's your job to do what it asked within the time frame. For example, the game will ask you to ollie over the wall then grind that wall and do a flip trick back onto the ground. At first these challenges are short and easy, but before long these tasks will be lengthy and full of tricks the game "forgot" to teach you. Worse yet, if you miss a trick at the beginning, you'll still have to ride through the rest of the level before it allows you to start over.
The Challenge mode is frustrating beyond belief, to the point where the game ceased to be enjoyable at all. It's in this mode where I realized that the board just doesn't act as advertised. I was running the same challenge two dozen times, simply because the game didn't want to register the trick I was doing on the fake plastic board. No matter what I tried or how many times I watched the tutorial video, the board was simply not consistent enough for this type of mode. And because so much of the game relies on these challenges, it won't take long before most people throw their hands in their air and go back to playing Skate.
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