Tony Hawk: Ride Preview
The gaming industry continues to press forward at a ridiculous rate (just look at the motion sensing technology unveiled during Microsoft’s and Sony’s E3 press conferences), which is why we get something like Tony Hawk: Ride. Evidently, the man himself conceived of this idea some time ago, but we just hadn’t reached a point where the available technology could handle it. Well, now we’ve got it, and it has resulted in the screenshots you see above, and a control mechanic that is both completely original and innovative. This thing goes beyond the Wii balance board and is fully capable of recreating your movements on the screen, so it’s well worth a look for all you skateboarding aficionados. Ride was shown off during Microsoft’s conference yesterday and because a lot of you may have only watched Sony’s event today, we thought we should tune you into this promising and creative multiplat. This is one franchise that has always delivered the goods and it’s time to take yet another giant step forward, so prepare for a whole new way to grind and flip!
Now, Robomodo had quite the task in creating a game that doesn’t rely on button presses from a standard controller; instead, all the inputs come from tilting the board beneath one’s feet. The variety of tricks, ranging from front-up turns to kicking, is all done while standing on that nifty board and it can be done by shifting and moving your feet accordingly. There are sensors on the board itself – one on each side for a total of four – and these are so advanced that they can actually sense the movements of your leg, too! And you can’t get away with screwing up, because your on-screen virtual persona will react based on what it senses, so if you’re a spaz in the living room, you’re gonna be a spaz on the screen. However, all new technology has a few drawbacks here and there, and because you can really only perform so many movements with your feet on a wheel-less board, there will be less tricks in Ride. Let’s face it: the number of tricks one can pull off by tapping any number of buttons in any order is almost limitless, so this makes perfect logical sense. Besides, we figure it’ll take a good amount of time to master what’s available in this game, anyway.
Well, unless you’re Tony Hawk himself. Anyway, just remember that you won’t actually be leaving the floor with your board; ollies and heelflips and the like can be done with a shifting of your weight and feet in the correct direction. It was demonstrated on stage and from what we can see, the board can sense very small movements so it won’t be necessary to shift around drastically. Theoretically, Robomodo and Activision could take the next step sometime down the road and add something to this board, but it’s hard to say what exactly… As is, you can use your hands for grabs and perhaps the most satisfying aspect of this technology is very similar to virtual reality; i.e., what you’re doing with your feet translates to some great tricks on-screen. This goes beyond what we have on the Wii – although it’s not quite as impressive as the motion tech we saw at Sony’s conference a few hours ago – and for fans of the extreme sport, it’s a huge deal. The key for the developers is to streamline the basics, like pushing off to get going, balancing, and successfully landing an attempted trick. Timing and dexterity should take center-stage throughout the experience.
As for the rest of the game, we’ll get a few format changes as well. Instead of one big overall level, the team has split things up into a variety of special sections. In other words, there’s an event designed specifically for half-pipe runs, while other levels, according to IGN, can be separated between “street and vert areas.” If you go with a street level, there’s plenty of room to get going and attempt any number of tricks on your board. If you go with vert, it’ll be more about high-flying moves that will take your breath away if you can pull them off; even tilting about in midair will result in different spins and flips. There will be a Career mode, of course, and the only aspect left may revolve around the question of customization. In past skating titles, like Skate, there is a decided emphasis on player customization, in that one can create their own levels from scratch. We imagine there will be some restrictions in this one due to the new tech, though, so we’re not expecting much. And in all honesty, we don’t really need much as that board is the obvious focal point of attention.
Tony Hawk: Ride is still in the testing phase but it should arrive towards the end of 2009. We’ll let you know when Activision nails down a solidified release date, because we know just how anxious you skaters are…
6/2/2009 Ben Dutka