Inline Skating

Gamestyle Archive intro: this Gamecube review of Inline Skating dates from September 2002. Sadly there is no score with this review but you get a general sense from the text itself. The game itself from memory was pretty playable.

Writer: JJ

Format: Gamecube

Published: October 2002

agressive inline

Inline skating is completely overshadowed by the ogre that is skateboarding, but for such a young sport the future is extremely bright.   It comes as no surprise therefore that its video game debut has arrived in the form of Aggressive Inline Skating, from Acclaim and the creators of the Dave Mirra series.   Even here, on every format, this pixel representation will have to fight against Tony Hawk’s and try to shed its glorified roller-skating image and build a new identity for itself.   But as skateboarding has managed to reinvent itself over the last few years, there is nothing stopping skating from doing the same.

No matter what approach I take with this review, comparisons have to be made with the Tony Hawk’s series, because this is the benchmark that most consumers will use.  So I apologise in advance.   I myself have a love hate relationship with the phenomenal series, and have seen other games fail to live up to the challenge: leaving only one kid on the block.   Competition makes the world go round and the stagnant Tony Hawk series needs a good kick up the backside.   Could the new kid pull off a shock and become the champion?

With such trick based games such as this, there seems to be little invention when discussing the actual game layout.  Just like before you open up each level as you complete a number of possible tasks.  The only deviation from this well trodden path was Amped, but on closer inspection in the end it came down the same thing: being good.  Yet for those all too familiar with such a layout Aggressive Inline does make a few slight changes to freshen up the rigid structure.  Firstly there is no time restriction, which allows you to explore the level and practice even more, learning the layout and best possible approach.  If I am correct, I believe that Tony Hawk’s 4 is dispatching the clock on each level – a positive step.   You can get kicked off a level if your juice meter runs dry, and to prevent such an occurrence you have to keep performing tricks.  If the meter becomes full then you gain extra abilities until you make a mistake or let the meter level fall.

The modes are standard fare for any extreme sports fan: Career, Freeskate, Timed Run, Multiplayer and Park Editor.   You are unable to create your own skater, which is unfortunate, and instead have to make do with one of the professionals included.  The main meat in the sandwich is the career mode, which is bigger and more time consuming than any sandwich Subway can throw at you.   This acts as the main hub to the rest of the game: improving skaters, unlocking bonus items and new levels.   Apart from this only the multiplayer mode warrants a mention simply because of the fun element involved.

Whereas on other games you need to purchase skills and attribute points, Aggressive Inline takes a different tact.   Here it adopts an almost RPG approach by setting levels, which are gained by performing the particular skill i.e. spin.   Points are gathered from doing the said skill, again and again, so even if you are playing the Career mode and enjoying a free run on a level, you are still adding points to your total.   This is a far better approach to improving the player, as the reward is directly linked to the practising and performing of tricks, not reaching an almost inaccessible area of a level, that is more often luck than skill.

Each level contains challenges and apart from the initial selection you can gather others by talking to passers by on each level.  This means that you can build up a range of twenty-five to thirty-five possible challenges for each of the nine levels, however you needn’t worry about completing each and every challenge in order to progress.   The skill setting of each is plainly obvious, and demands that you go back and try to accumulate more passes as your experience and skills grow.

The quality of each of the nine levels varies, with some needing a little more time on the planning board.  Despite this each is fantastically playable, supporting a variety of colours (another pet Tony Hawk’s hate), a higher level of interaction and ultimately the impressive size.     The first level is a perfect example, as most would be satisfied with the outdoors and busy street you find yourself in, however moving inside the studio increases the size dramatically.   Then you open up another area, each with plenty to do and see – it is no wonder they dispensed with the clock as you could never take it all in under five minutes.

Games such as these live and die upon the control method and trick system.   After the problems I encountered playing Tony Hawk’s 3 on the Gamecube, I am pleased to report the utilisation of the controller is far more efficient, mainly because they’ve ignored the miniature d-pad.   You can use this if you wish, however such is its minuscule size, that the sticks are far better.   The first thing you have to learn is the differences of skating, as opposed to skateboarding.   Obviously there is no board to worry about and your skater can skate backwards, and is far more reactive and controllable than a skateboarder.   The whole 360 degree thing does take a while to get used to, and depending on what direction you are facing, unique tricks will present themselves.

The trick system is excellent and very much the cornerstone of the game, with plenty of variety to separate the sport from the skateboarders.    Inline skating is much faster with skaters being able to perform more outrageous somersaults and tricks: as their method of travel is firmly attached to their body.   My own favourite ability is being able to throw yourself at a street lamp or traffic light and spin around – is skating the new gymnastics?   The experience of creating the Dave Mirra series has been put to good use and the trick system is fluid and practical, allowing you to rack up huge scoring runs.

Little can be said against Aggressive Inline skating except that those who dislike such games won’t be converted by this offering.   As a trick based sports game I would put this above Tony Hawk’s thanks to the impressive visuals and game structure, whether the public agrees remains to be seen.

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