WORDS: Simon Mark Cane
What is it?
Many things have changed since the days of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1. In the wake of the active controller market started by the Wii, even good old Tony has had to adapt – giving us the board controller… and potential broken ankles nationwide this Christmas.
The lone skater mode:
There are 6 huge levels, each containing a rather limited 4 different modes. The levels do cover most of the skateboarding world from the US, to Japan and on. To unlock new levels you need to start a Road Trip (Career) and play for points by doing challenges and competing in events. Once you have enough points, you can move onto the next city. The four different modes (Challenge, Trick, Speed and Free Skate) can all be explored in exhibition mode to add more hours to each level.
The game supports 8 players, ideal for Christmas day fun. For all you lone gamers - the multiplayer mode doesn’t offer too much of an advantage over single player. Both players use the same board, negating direct one-on-one playing, which is probably for the best since the board tends to move a precarious amount.
Will you end up on your arse?
You know when a game is clutching at straws when one of the bullet points on its product features list is: Multiple Difficulty Levels. That’s not a novel feature Tony. It’s recommended to start on Casual difficulty, even if you’re into real life skateboarding. Since you’re not moving while gaming, that kick flip you’ve spent months perfecting on a real board, is useless in the quasi-virtual world. Time to start again then.
Gimmick or gadget?
The board itself is pretty unresponsive, which gets frustrating. Luckily it’s also solid, so you can take all your rage out on it worry free. If you can’t commit lots of time to learning its 100+ built in moves, you’re wasting your time and money. Its not as simple as just grabbing a controller and learning what the buttons do, this controller uses your feet’s movements - which is a little harder to get to grips with. This is more of a gimmick than a gadget. If you don’t have some sort of skateboarding experience, you’re not likely to get half the use out of it, and if you skate, just stick to the real deal. It’s still cooler.
It comes down to game play, and it isn’t good enough for the small ransom you have to fork out for the privilege. It begs the question, if it’s not a gimmick why don’t they offer an option for you to buy the game and play it with the normal controller?
After a few hours of getting to grips with the new controller, the game can be immersive. If, like us, you have a competitive streak, you’ll want to stick it out through all of the challenges way after your feet have begun to hurt, blister and bleed.
If you don’t get embarrassed in front of normal adults, standing on what’s clearly an adult-styled Fisher-Price toy, this game is for you. Otherwise save your money for project Natal, which looks more responsive, and slightly more user friendly. It’s the future.