Tony Hawk: Ride

GamesCom 2009: Tony Hawk: Ride Feet On Preview - Getting Back on the Board

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Tony Hawk used to be the undisputed king of skateboarding games, but with the emergence of Skate recently it seems like the former ruler has fallen upon some hard times. Rather than go toe to toe with its nearest rival though, the Hawk series has decided to go in a totally different direction altogether. Whether this is the result of innovation or merely jumping on the balance board bandwagon is anybody’s guess.

Suffice to say that Ride is all about the new board peripheral which, through a series of motion sensors and can pick up your every move, lean and grab in order to translate them into on screen goodness. Obviously such technology does not come cheap and the game is looking at a fairly high price point because of it. Do not expect to pick up the game solo either – as it can ONLY be played with the board and a regular controller would be useless to you. Not to mention the fact that local co-op is out of the question, even if you snagged two boards, thanks to the space required and the motion sensors themselves.

The game itself handles as you would expect. The way you stand on the board determines your stance, either standard or goofy, and you push off and build up speed as you would in real life. The motion of your leg is picked up by the board and away you go. Then you tilt with your feet to steer and flick, spin and twist the board to pull off tricks. You can also go for a grab by waving your hand near the sensors, should you get enough air – luckily the sensors are quite forgiving so you do not have to risk back trauma by physically grabbing the board each time. The board and controls of Ride are easy to pick up, but there are times that the board isn’t as responsive as one would like.

The game comes equipped with a training mode so you can get used to the board and learn all of the tricks, and unlike previous Hawk games you do not have to pull off ridiculous button combos to land the moves you want as everything is instantly accessible through the board. The earlier difficulties are quite forgiving in terms of bumps and crashes, with casual basically allowing you free reign to just go down a course and attempt tricks. You have a little more freedom on Confident, but still get steering assist to prevent you bumping walls and the like. Finally, Hardcore lets you have total control with every touch of the board recreated on screen as if you were in the real world. At times the courses on the lower difficulties do feel a bit on rails which takes away some of the realism that the board was meant to bring.

There is also a "Vert" stance where the board sits side on to the television, and this mode is used primarily for the half-pipe so that you can have total control over the types of tricks you want to go for. Not to mention the fact it makes steering a darn sight easier when you are trying to match up moves with what you are seeing on screen. This mode encourages more tricks and grabs, so you have to be quick to get air and go for a big move.

The game has a single player career mode called Road Trip, which sees you travelling to six different cities around the world and visiting hot skate spots. There are four spots per city and each of these spots offers four different challenges, such as speed runs, trick attempts or the ubiquitous half-pipe. Success in these challenges will open up new cities to explore (as you only have access to two initially) and also unlock a bunch of goodies for you to use in the multiplayer and party modes. 

While there is no local co-op you can still have some friends round for party mode, which will allow up to eight players to take it in turns hopping on and off the board in order to see who is crowned champion. You can take part in all the same modes as you would in road trip, though which courses and skaters you have available to you will depend on your solo progression. There are also four player online capabilities but sadly this mode is restricted to just speed and trick events which kind of lessens the appeal somewhat.

Tony Hawk has always offered a superb skateboarding experience, and this title gives them a chance to bring non-skaters a little closer to that world. However, unless the controller input is tightened up, it may all be in vain as it sometimes feels a little loose in terms of what it will or will not recognise. However, if the under the hood mechanics are spot on come launch then skaters may find themselves spending more time indoors than out. The only question mark then hangs over whether gamers prefer the instant action on show with Ride or a more open world experience that they could expect previous titles in the series to deliver. Of course, price may be a stumbling point as well.

Tonk Hawk: Ride is heading to North America retails on November 17th with the UK and Germany set to get it November 20th. The rest of the world will have to wait till 2010. 


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Game Info


US November 17, 2009
Europe November 20, 2009

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