It's a bit late for a Frankenreview of Tony Hawk Ride, but it's interesting to see a ratings chart that starts so low and ends so high.
Tony Hawk Ride is the latest installment of the storied Tony Hawk skateboarding video game franchise, given new life by developer Robomodo with the inclusion of a plastic skateboard controller. How could such a concept fail? Read on.
There's a good idea at the center of Tony Hawk: RIDE. Attempting to make some sort of peripheral-based skateboarding game is a neat idea, and one that, if the peripheral were robust enough, could result in some sort of faux-skating experience that approximates the real thing in a way that's accessible to non-skaters without being completely offensive to anyone who's ever pulled an ollie. But everything about Tony Hawk: RIDE, from the game's structure to the skateboard hardware itself, is an absolute mess that feels incapable of pleasing anyone, regardless of his or her skill level.
Instead of using a huge piece of expensive plastic to enhance what could have been a pretty awesome Tony Hawk game, the development team chose to tailor the entire game around a huge piece of expensive plastic. The result is a gimmicky-as-hell title that's certainly not a step forward for the franchise, as much as it tries to be. The sturdy, wheel-less skateboard peripheral that serves as the sole means of input for Ride is a deceptive beast. It's hefty, looks sleek, and just feels right – at least before you sync it up and start trying to "skate" on it.
The more you play, the more you'll also begin to notice that the physics and collision detection aren't up to speed – I once watched my skater go straight through the wall of a half-pipe and then fall through the world. Other times you'll watch your skater's head slide right through a cement wall. The camera has plenty of difficulties, too, once you take the game off of the casual rails. Ride simply lacks the polish that is necessary to match the hardcore controls. All of these things are problems that would absolutely not fly in past Tony Hawk games, and they're more than enough to make any serious gamer walk away.
Totally rad skaters can use the hardcore mode, which ditches the rails and lets you skate your heart out. Developer Robomodo added the ability to loosen or tighten the steering, but in the end, trying to skate a planned line requires so much focus and concentration you'd be hard-pressed to find some fun along the way. Instead, the reward is usually a quick, painful faceplant into a wall.
What makes this game so dynamic is obviously the controller. It gives the game a brand new vibe and feel and elevates the enter genre. In 2009, Activision introduced a couple of new controllers – one for DJ Hero and the board for RIDE. Of the two, the board will have the biggest impact and may well become a staple for other games to build off. But more importantly, the board takes the Tony Hawk franchise to a new audience – the entire family. This is no longer about fast fingers on a controller, but it is a decent workout (you may break a sweat playing the game and you will feel it in your legs) but this is a game that will appeal to the younger members of the family as well as the older ones.
During one of my play sessions with Tony Hawk: Ride, my girlfriend looked up from her random knitting and said, "It's a pity you can't play it with the regular controller. It looks fun." For me, that simple statement sums up everything that is wrong with the game. Ride is a game built completely around a plastic skateboard controller that doesn't come close to getting the job done. Since the board is required to play, it drags everything else down with it-the integrity of the Tony Hawk franchise included.