Tony Hawk: Ride Review
This, here, is the end of a franchise. The absolute rock-bottom. It is the equivalent of a Hollywood star getting caught slinging racial slurs, or going crazy and shaving their head. This is Tony Hawk RIDE, and from the moment the gaming world saw it, we knew it was destined for failure. It always sucks having to write reviews like this, because I know that somewhere within Activision someone is going to see it and get a bit miffed. And I'm not the type of person who enjoys hurting feelings, but I am the type of person who likes to tell it how it is. And quite frankly, Tony Hawk RIDE is a gimmicky joke.
Activision has taken this once great franchise and demolished it with a sledgehammer. Instead of doing what EA did with SKATE, Activision thought it'd be a better idea to bundle it with a poorly designed, barely functioning skateboard deck and tell people it's "loaded with technology". Except it's not. You get absolutely no joy in using this lousy excuse for a controller, because all you do is make lame gestures, most of which look nothing like the trick you're actually executing on screen. But it's bad enough that the experience is completely half-assed, but if you want to pull certain tricks off successfully, you have to refer to the list of tricks every time and see which gesture pulls off which trick, so you'll be pausing quite often. And then when you do resume the game, chances are you won't even get the trick you wanted. Wanted to ollie? Nope, how about a manual, instead? Still not what you wanted? Okay, a kickflip! No? Hmm...you just want to ollie, eh? Yes! Fifth time's the charm.
But perhaps the most frustrating aspect to this experience is the amount of lag between your motion and the actual execution on screen. It is seriously jarring just how slow this game is to react to your movements, which really makes the whole skateboard controller utterly worthless. Why spend $120 on something that doesn't even respond fast enough? Isn't this thing supposed to be loaded with technology? You know what's astonishing? I actually got better results when I lifted the thing off the ground and used my hands. So there you have it, the big and bulky skateboard controller is better in your hands, than your feet.
The game features a campaign mode...which is actually pointless to even talk about seeing as how the game isn't even playable. So why bother explaining a campaign mode that no one will even play? Speaking of things no one will play, because the game is such a commercial failure and so colossally bad, there is barely a soul to find online. So scratch that off the list too. There is no denying that Tony Hawk RIDE is an abomination in every which way possible. And if you want more proof of that, keep reading.
We then get to the aesthetic portion of the game, you know, the stuff that matters in creating a good skateboarding game: the skateparks. Now, between this sentence and that last one right there, there was a good three minute pause as I was trying to gather my thoughts on how I could best describe the level design. Unimaginative would be a bit of a soft word, because that would imply some sort of imagination was used, even if it was generic. Nonimaginative? Is that a word? I don't care if it isn't. It is now. And what exactly is the difference between Unimaginative and nonimaginative? Well, "nonimaginative" simply means no imagination was used, as opposed to "unimaginative" which is used to describe something generic. And instead of "uninspired", I'm going to go with "noninspired". Same concept, folks. Bottomline, these skateparks are a joke. They are devoid of any well thought out design, and absolutely devoid of any fun.
The visuals feel feel as if this game was designed around the Nintendo Wii and then ported up to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. When I booted the game up, I thought someone was playing some sort of joke on us. Am I really supposed to believe that these low-grade textures and these poorly defined skaters are supposed to be something worthwhile on our current consoles? For the Wii this is acceptable, but on the other two this is a slap in the face. I honestly wish to do nothing more than to just cut this review off right here and tell you to stay away...but I still have one last thing to mention...
And that one last thing is the only good thing, the soundtrack, which is fairly typical of this franchise. RIDE boasts audio from bands like Chevelle, Beck, Queens of the Stone Age, KRS-One, The Raconteurs, Wolfmother, and a whole bunch of others. Even the bands I've never listened offer something solid. But clearly a videogame soundtrack isn't worth $120, we have the internet for stuff like that. Besides, the remaining audio sounds like recycled effects and the voice overs are annoying.
You know, if Tony Hawk RIDE at least offered the option for controlling the game with a standard controller, it'd have fared a bit better. But because you're paying $120 for a door stop and a game disc, you're essentially left with nothing to actually play. So we're not sure what the purpose of Tony Hawk RIDE is. It's a product with a worthless peripheral, for sure. It's also running some sort of dated graphics engine transforming your powerhouse console into a Nintendo Wii. Times like this I wish I had a shooting range somewhere nearby and a shotgun...that'd give me some use out of the skateboard controller, even if it lasts for all of 10 seconds.
12/10/2009 Arnold Katayev