- Buy the Game
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
he critical and commercial success of EA’s “Skate” series must have really burned Tony Hawk and the people at Activision, because for the latest installment in the Tony Hawk game franchise, they’ve given in to the alluring gimmick of motion controls. Following the release of the Wii Balance Board, every developer under the sun has been trying to put out some kind of game-specific peripheral to milk even more money out of consumers, so it was only inevitable that someone would create a skateboard controller as well. Unfortunately, while you might think you’ve hit the jackpot upon opening “Tony Hawk: RIDE,” you’ll soon discover that despite its impressive design, the skateboard is nothing more than a daring experiment gone terribly wrong. And without the board, there isn’t any sign of an actual game.
In fact, you can’t even play “RIDE” without the skateboard peripheral, and it’s hard to imagine many fans of the series warming up to that concept. Those that do decide to give it a go won’t have to suffer through some silly story about an up-and-coming skater trying to make it pro, but you’ll wish you did when you realize that in place of a story is a Road Trip Mode that is made up of hopping from city to city completing various events and challenges. It doesn’t sound so bad at first, but after awhile, the pattern (which goes a little something like this: Speed Slalom, Trick, Challenge, Vert) becomes so damn repetitive that it’s less about enjoying yourself and more about earning the requisite points needed to move on to the next location.
And how could you expect to have any fun when Activision provides you with what’s essentially a broken controller? It may look like it’s loaded with all kinds of "electronic wizardry," as Tony Hawk so humorously states in the introductory video, but it’s not quite as intuitive as you’d hope. When the skateboard is working, “RIDE” can be a pretty fun skating simulation, but more often than not, it doesn’t do what you want it to. Though some of the easier moves (like manuals and ollies) aren’t affected by this problem, it’s near impossible to perform flip tricks on a consistent basis. There are two types to choose from, and although tilt tricks usually work correctly, the flick variation (which are performed by moving the board from side to side, as opposed to tilting it) often registers incorrectly. The same can be said of finger flips and grabs, which require the player to cover one of the board’s four sensors with their hands. No matter how patiently or furiously you swipe your hand in front of the sensor, however, it’s usually unresponsive.
Of course, when you’re not having these problems (and they do seem to come and go), the game itself stands in your way by asking you to perform certain tricks that you’ve never learned. Granted, there are training videos for some of them, but others are left to simple trial and error. That only makes the game an even bigger drag, because if you fail a single objective in any given challenge, you have to finish the entire run before it lets you try again. Add to that the fact that you spend more time in menus and load screens than the actual game and you can begin to see why “Tony Hawk: RIDE” is an overpriced waste of time. You’d be better off trying the game at a friend’s place before making the dive yourself, because while there’s definitely a good idea at its core, the execution is an absolute disaster. I’d rather do a face plant and crush my balls on a handrail attempting to do the real thing than ever step onto this fake skateboard again.