ESPN X Games Skateboarding allows gamers to play as one of eight different pro riders, including Bob Burnquist. Go big to win X Games gold or take to the streets and master hidden tricks on three challenging street courses or take a break from reality in the game’s three mind-blowing fantasy levels. In order to capture ESPN X Games gold, gamers will thrash it out on real courses re-created in stunning graphic detail from last year’s X Games event in San Francisco with the assistance of several pro riders.
X-Games did something that no one else has – they got to market first, and with that they’ll be able to sell quite a few of these titles. Some may argue that this game is a rip-off of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and it’s just trying to cash in on a genre that’s red hot right now. You’re right. But that doesn’t mean that the game is any less fun to play – as a matter of fact, this is a slick, easy version of Hawk that will satisfy your lust for grinding, rail-sliding, board-tweaking action.
Ollie Need is Love
The graphics certainly try to compete with THPS. Smooth animation, moderate level design, and lots o’ tricks resound throughout the game, but there’s a drawback with the draw-in that plagues almost every level, along with some moderate slowdown. But will you notice the draw-in when you’re grinding the rails on the Titanic, or nailing an ollie into a mummy? Probably not. The track design are innovative and quirky, but they seem crowded at times – you can’t really get a feel for all the vert ramps in San Francisco because you keep bumping into objects, like walls and parked cars. As for the X-Game trials, it’s just the same vert and street park over and over again.
The sound features tracks from Linkin Park, Voodoo Glow Skulls, and Sum 41 – haven’t heard of them? Don’t worry — Linkin Park delivers the strongest beat, while the others just seem to fill in the gap between trick objectives (although Jenny (867-5309) by Crease brought a tear to my old-school eyes). There are also a couple of other sound effects that catch your attention (although the frightened guests on the Titanic make the funniest exclamations, the other human characters you encounter make feeble remarks about your passing through). The sound of your board is right on target, as is the sound of shattering glass, grinding metal, and even flying through shrubbery.
The controls follow Tony Hawk for the most part, but definitely bail in some respects. Grinding requires you to gain speed, which means you can’t make short hops on to most rails. When on a rail, trying to combo a trick is more or less of a joke, and keeping combos together with manuals ain’t happening in X-Games. This is important to note because pulling off small tricks gets really boring after a while, and being able to combo tricks extends the fun of skateboard games. There’s also a large level of difficulty in pulling off the trickier tricks – you have to use all four triggers for grab and rotation, and some of the better tricks require you to make two full circles on the directional pad, which you never seem to have time for.
What’s more apparent with X-Games Skateboarding is that they rushed this one to get it in under the wire before Tony Hawk 3 comes out next month. Unfortunately, it’s worth the wait to play Tony Hawk 3, which will make this exercise in a quick sale seem just that. This is a weekend rental (we beat the game in less than a day), but a worthy rental.