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This week's Critical Reception examines reaction to Activision's skateboard peripheral-bundled Tony Hawk: RIDE, which mixed reviews describe as being "as close to real skating as Guitar Hero is to proper fretwork."

Danny Cowan, Blogger

November 25, 2009

4 Min Read

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Activision's skateboard peripheral-bundled Tony Hawk: RIDE, which reviews describe as being "as close to real skating as Guitar Hero is to proper fretwork." RIDE currently earns a score of 55 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Ben Talbot at OXM UK gives RIDE a score of 6 out of 10. "After nearly ten years of challenging our dextrous skills, the Tony Hawk franchise has taken a sudden turn towards physical activity," he begins. "RIDE comes bundled with a motion-sensing skateboard controller." Talbot describes the peripheral as an interesting idea. "There are no wheels, but you stand on the board and tilt it in different directions to perform tricks," he explains. "The board is equipped with four light sensor panels, which detect hand and foot movements, while two accelerometers track pitch and yaw." The Tony Hawk franchise's trick-based gameplay has been adapted for the new controller. "Performing the basic tricks really couldn't be more intuitive," Talbot praises. "You tilt the front of the board upwards to jump, hold it in that position to manual (wheelie) and tilt from side to side to steer." "It's about as close to real skating as Guitar Hero is to proper fretwork," Talbot admits. "By no means totally accurate, but you still get the sensation of what it's like to be a boarder, without the painful memories of broken bones and scuffed elbows." Game Informer's Nick Ahrens rates RIDE at 5.75 out of 10, noting that inconsistency proves to be a major fault. "I scored like 53,000 points in the halfpipe on my first try," he says. "How did I do this? Not too sure exactly, but it happened." "For better or for worse, this seems to be a standard experience in the new skateboarding title from Activision," Ahrens continues. "Just when I thought I was starting to master a certain mechanic, the inconsistent gameplay inevitably turned each session into whirlwind of tears and frustration." Ahrens finds that RIDE's basic mechanics do not translate well to the skateboard controller. "Flip tricks, one of the most basic skateboarding techniques, require the most advanced movement -- popping the nose up and leaning forward or back," he explains. "Clearly this was done to try and bridge the game's control with real life movements, but your pissed-off ankles won't care after a few sessions. The only tricks that truly resemble real skateboarding are reverts and manuals." Further issues become apparent when players attempt the harder difficulty modes. "Developer Robomodo added the ability to loosen or tighten the steering," Ahrens writes, "but in the end, trying to skate a planned line requires so much focus and concentration you'd be hard-pressed to find some fun along the way. Instead, the reward is usually a quick, painful faceplant into a wall." "While the skateboard-as-game-peripheral idea may have sounded like a hit on paper," Ahrens admits, "the truth of the matter is it doesn't translate into the real world." Jeff Gerstmann at Giant Bomb scores RIDE at 1 out of 5 stars. "Attempting to make some sort of peripheral-based skateboarding game is a neat idea," he says. "But everything about Tony Hawk: RIDE, from the game's structure to the skateboard hardware itself, is an absolute mess that feels incapable of pleasing anyone, regardless of his or her skill level." "When your feet first touch the RIDE skateboard, it actually feels pretty good. It rocks back and forth a bit, and the curved nose and tail let you pop the front or back of the board into the air with ease," Gerstmann notes. "It's sturdy, and feels solid under your feet without feeling stiff." "The problem with the board is that it isn't great at translating your movements into the appropriate on-screen actions," Gerstmann warns. "More often than not, performing flick motions resulted in tilt tricks. Getting through a challenge that requires a specific trick type feels like luck in a lot of cases." The resulting gameplay lacks consistency and clarity. "The racing feels like something out of Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam, another misstep from the once-great franchise's past," Gerstmann writes. "The trick sections of the game are usually score-based, and most of the time it's easier to just flail around on the board to pull off random tricks than it is to carefully attempt specific motions." "The only positive thing about Tony Hawk: RIDE is its soundtrack, which is lengthy and includes tracks from Murs, Santigold, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wolfmother, The Commodores, and more," Gerstmann concludes. "While the Tony Hawk franchise has been down on its luck lately, and was probably in need of a reboot as dramatic as this, the execution is such a miserable failure that it manages to splash even more mud on Tony Hawk's legacy."

About the Author(s)

Danny Cowan


Danny Cowan is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for Gamasutra and its subsites. Previously, he has written reviews and feature articles for gaming publications including 1UP.com, GamePro, and Hardcore Gamer Magazine.

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