Tuesday, 13 October 2009

[244] Tony Hawk Ride Hands-On Preview

I've tried a few times to shoot for a writing style that incorporates the subjective-yet-insightful aspects of the writers I admire. They all seem to be games journalists, but writers like Simon Parkin, Kieron Gillen and John Walker manage to all have distinct voices, giving even the most bland or mundane of writing tasks a bubbly humour and engagement (and what more throwaway than a preview?).

I don't think I've completely got there yet, but this is the most comfortable I've been with an article in that vein so far. So here's my preview of the new Tony Hawk game, Ride.

Has it really been ten years since Tony Hawk's Pro Skater came out? It seems like yesterday that I was hanging out at a friend's house, fully reclined on a semi-broken sofa, indulging in short, intense-bursts of Americophilia to go along with our Jay & Silent Bob obsession and mid-pubescent crush on Jane Lane from Daria.

As we grew, Tony grew, developing extra tricks, skills and modes with every instalment like extra appendages. Soon, you could skitch, revert, manual, wall-plant, and even get off your board in order to pelt a homeless man with tomatoes (Tony Hawk's Underground, you will not be missed).

By 2007, EA's Skate franchise had ruffled some feathers, taking Tony Hawk's face-button approach, and chucking it out, in favour of mapping control of the skater's body weight and stance to the dual analogue sticks. It was intuitive and brain-bending, but subtle and immersive.

Back in May, it was revealed that Activision, and new developer Robomodo, had a new trick up their sleeve: a peripheral. A peripheral! The gaming innovation of choice for a generation that has seen grannies playing tennis in the living room, baby boomers practising yoga on a Wii Fit balance board, and whole families uniting over a shared love of The Beatles (causing 'true fans' to sulk in a corner, listening to a pristine remaster of You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)). A peripheral, you say? You might as well buy a proper skateboard!

Well, Tony Hawk Ride follows Wii Fit, Wii Sports and Rock Band into the arena of well-made, inclusive games that come with well-made, sturdy peripherals. While not strong enough to inspire a spurt of recreations of the skateboard-as-weapon scene from Larry Clark's Kids, the Ride board is (almost excusing its £99.99 price tag) a nice, slick object - even if it seems to be awfully good at attracting dust and hair.

Read the full article here.

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