Sunday, July 18, 2010

Skate It

All right lets jump (or Olie, haha four words in and I have a bad joke, new record!) right into this, skateboarding games did, for a long time suck ass, with the exception of 720 on the NES there wasn’t much to keep our videogame skating needs at bay, that was until of course until the release of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, the game was a complete revolution in gaming, something brand new and fresh that skaters and those who had never picked a board up in there life got behind and said, damm this game is awesome. But after 9 years of annual installments the franchise was starting to feel stale and bloated with features that no one really cared about, that took away from the core gameplay. It seemed that with each new installment that came after about Pro Skater 3 the series felt like it was taking backwards steps in terms of the enjoyment gamers got out of there skating sessions.

Skate brought something new to the world of skating games in much the same way the Tony Hawk series did. By reinventing the control scheme, the game flowed much more smoothly and more importantly gave the user the feeling of freedom that comes with skating. The game never saw a release on the Wii but a spin off title, Skate It was released, can the little white box actually have a good skating game? Let’s find out.

Gameplay (8.5 out of 10)

Kick it off with the controls, there are 3 control scheme to the game, which is awesome you can pick the one that best suites you right. There is Wii Remote, my least favourite, its really too much on the one controller. Its nice the option is there but steering, spinning and doing tricks with the one hand is a bit much. Then we have Wii Remote + Nunchuck, this is the one that I used to playthe game through, you could actually skate in the direction you wanted to (twisting the Wii Remote by itself to turn is never that accurate and hurts your wrist after awhile) and the general ability to control what you want to do is a lot easier than the other two, when I talk about controls inthe game this is the scheme I am talking about as in my head its the 'default' way to play skate it. The third and last is with the Wii Balance board, its a great idea in theory but its a pain in the ass at times. You do tricks in the way you would expect to, to ollie you lean hard on the tail, nollie hard on the nose, kickflip you put weight on you right side (if you skate Goofy), etc. I found it pretty hard to just skate around on the board, and I don’t think its because I am a complete retard because I have Shaun White snowboarding and I have almost finished that game with its Wii Balance board scheme. I just constantly found myself banging into walls and objects ingame, and it got to the point that halfway through the first level I just put it away and restarted the game with the Wii Remote + Nunchuck scheme, maybe some people enjoy the board more, but for it I found it a pain in the ass.

Doing big air feels pretty good with the Wii controls.

Now to quickly talk about the actual controls rather than the different schemes, basically to olie you whip the Wii-Remote up, every flip trick then comes from doing a certain motion with the Wii-Remote before doing the Olie, such as, making a U shape, then doing a olie will perform a pop shuvit. Grabs are as simple as using hte B button and a direction, and grind happen when you land on a rail with the Wii-Remote pointed in the grind you wish to grind, hold the Wii-Remote with the nose down, you do a nose grind. Pretty simple and it is leaps and bounds better than the slapped on controls we saw in Tony Hawk Proving Ground on the Wii, in which they mapped the regular 4 buttons used in the THPS series to different buttons on the Wii-Remote and made a shitty game, pretty much unplayable, as far as controls go, Skate It gets it right minus the frustration when you sometimes pop tricks you didn't want to.

Now that the boring stuff is out of the way we can talk about the game itself, at first, being a big THPS fan (I Have completed all Console releases to date and 100%'ed the first 4) and a skater myself I was looking forward to this game hitting the Wii. Once I got the controls down (which actually takes awhile)the game just flowed. Doing lines of tricks rolled and just like in real skating you felt really frustrated at time trying to do lines, but it was a good frustration. The game is full of the usual challenges, such as 'manual from a to b', 'kickflip the 5 set' and so on, each challenge has a easy and hard option such as, the easy version may allow you to just kickflip over a gap, while the harder version is to do a kickflip and a grab, its nothing new to THPS fans, but its a nice feature. While much of the core gameplay is similar to past Tony Hawk outings the controls set it apart, Its no longer a fast paced arcade style game. The game is much more realistic and strategic. Leaps and bounds not only over Tony Hawk Proving Ground on the wii and the Tony Hawk series in general. My only complaint is I felt the game was far too short, but I will get into more detail with that later.

I’m not going to talk about the multiplayer aspect of the title at all as I didn’t / don’t really have the urge to play with the game with other people, want to know about it, read it elsewhere, IGN is a good start.

Graphics (7 out of 10)

It seems that when it comes to the Wii developers have decided since it cant look as realistic as other consoles, trying to make anything look realistic is a waste of time and we are left with cartoon style graphics, while it was great at first it is starting to become a pain in the ass now, being straighter than a arrow I don’t enjoy the pain. Its not to say they don't look good but I would have prefer something that looked similar to the Tony Hawk games on the last gen consoles, its just a personal preference but what we got was graphics that while not jaggard like many Wii titles are very bland and simple with a ‘bloomish’ effect. It does the job but we all know the Wii is capable of better graphics than these crayon drawings we keep getting.

You better hope you don't stack, or your gonna crack the shits HARD!

One of the most annoying things graphically, I don't know if you disable it, I know I couldn’t! Is the stupid ass 'Hall of Meat' cutscenes every time you bail, while its a 'ok' concept of gameplay to break bones on stacks, making me have to watch a 5-10 second scene every time I bail becomes so annoying I often turned my Wii off when I bailed. It wasn’t needed, its retarded. When your trying to do a challenge it is a pain in the ass that it takes no less than a minute to have 6 tries because you are forced to watch this stupid screen that serves as nothing, even if you don’t break a bone you still have to watch the stupid thing. Its retarded, its useless. I have no idea how a tester missed the annoying factor on it. Get rid of it, its bloody stupid.

Sound (8 out of 10)

You usually assortment of rock, punk and a few hip hop songs you would expect from a skating game, while not on par with the soundtracks of the earlier Tony Hawk titles, it is far better than the more recent installments. The only thing that annoyed me about the music is that there is not a lot of different tracks, something near 20 if I remember correctly, but there are 3 or 4 songs that you can only listen to in free skate, this blows my mind. If you are going to have a modest selection of songs, at least let us listen to them all while we play the main game, stupid and unexplainable choice.

The sound effects are pretty standard, nothing really stands out, what you expect, skate over gravel, its sounds like it, skate over metal and so on. Solid effort.

Replay Value (7 out of 10)

It is kind of hard to comment on the replay value, a lot of the main replay value would come from playing the game through again completing challenges you only completed on easy, on hard. However since I did them all the first time around I found the only 'real' replay value was the 'Hall Of Meat' challenges, such as 'break 10 bones' in a stage. Ok, so they took one of the most annoying parts of the game and tried to add to the length of the game by making it challenges, I think I would break my Wii if I tried to do all these stupid ass challenges, so they don't even really add to the 'replay value' to me. There is also the Milestone challenges which are all like "Manual for 80 years", none of them are an actual challenge it is just if you can be bothered doing the same thing for long periods of time, no idea what happens if you complete them all because this gamer could not be assed to waste my time.

As for the main reason to come back and pick up the controller again in the Tony Hawk series, Unlockables, I have no idea what the unlockables are, I finished the game and don't recall unlocking a anything, no new levels, no new skaters, no skate videos. Skate Videos, if I am wrong and there is a way to unlock them, please someone tell me, it is one of the only reason I ever played the THPS series to much, to unlock those awesome videos, but nothing. SUCKS!

Overall (7.625 out of 10)

While its a good game, other than its control scheme which turns the genre on its ass it has nothing we have no seen before, but so strong is its control scheme that you feel like you are playing a completely new genre of game and not just a rehash of the Tony Hawk series, which is a great thing. Solid effort in the audio department, if it wasn’t for the 'Hall Of Meat' screens the game would have flowed much smoother, but even so it was enjoyable to play through.

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