Review by markoos

"All the good ideas on display cannot be saved by the shoddy implementation"

Ever since the 1999 release of Tony Hawks, the new genre of extreme sport tricks games has been somewhat inundated with titles. None whatsoever have ever come close to matching the sheer quality of Neversoft's franchise though. However all the pretenders can be put into two categories - the ones that are quite good if you've never played Tony Hawks and the ones that are just appalling. For instance, Freestyle Scooter and Dave Mirra BMX come into the former category. Unfortunately, MTV Sports definetly comes into the latter. Now let's find out why...

From the outset things look genuinely good - even to a point where it might (gulp) be a Tony Hawks beater. The range of gameplay modes is great. As well as the standard Lifestyle (basically Career) and Single Run modes, there's MTV Hunt where you must try and find multiple MTV logos within the time limit and there's a whole multitude of multiplayer modes - including a rather imaginative deathmatch mode where up to four players can shoot fireballs and grenades at each other whilst performing suitably gnarly tricks. The music too is pretty great, featuring top tracks from Deftones, Cypress Hill, SoaD and the ubiquitous skate anthem ''Heaven is a Halfpipe'' by OPM. The rest if all decent too. Even better is the fact that on certain levels, the skate parks feature TV screens which play the music videos to these songs! This is an orignal and fun idea which sees the lines between the two media forms blur even further than usual. On top of this, the graphics aren't bad either. The skate parks look very good and hi-res and the skaters whilst rather blocky and animated passably well enough. So why exactly is this a bad game?

Quite simply because all of these good ideas and features are implemented so badly. The first thing which becomes apparent is how sluggish the controls are. You can count the time it takes between pressing a button and the action occuring. As this type of game needs quick reflexes in any case, this completely ruins the feel of it and means you never feel fully in control. For street skating it's just about bearable, but for vert? Forget it. Next up, despite the apparent inclusion of 36 skate parks, the messed-up nature of the Lifestyle marking scheme means you'll never see them, unless you're very lucky. After doing your 2 minutes skating, you are marked by judges and must receive a certain amount to progress. Sadly there seems to be no obvious way of getting a good score. I did a great run with a variety of tricks, no bails and a decent score and was given 3.7 out of 10 by the judges. A few attempts later and I had done a fairly average run with a disappointing score and was awarded 7.8! Sadly by the next level, NOTHING I did could get a decent score.

Because of the fact that this mode is used to unlock all but the first two parks, you just won't get anywhere. The MTV Hunt mode seems like a good idea, but whenever you fall off your board you lose all the ones you've already collected. As the messed-up controls mean performing tricks is hard enough already, you'll never be able to do it. Even the music video feature has been done poorly. I'm not complaining about the quality of the video (although it isn't great), just the fact that when the videos are played it horrendously dropped the frame rate to a point where the 4 way split screen mode which features no music was running at probably twice the speed. Mercifully the multiplayer modes, in particular the deathmatch are quite fun, although once again trying to aim at your opponent is an uphill struggle thanks to the sluggishness of the controls.

All in all, MTV Sports Skateboarding is a perfect example of good ideas utterly wasted by poor implementation. You really do feel like you're playing a dodgy beta version, which is a real shame as it has all the makings of a classic of the genre. The graphics are passable, the music great and the quantity of modes and parks impressive. Sadly all this amounts to nothing due to the slack nature of the programming - simply put, this game is not in the least bit enjoyable. Even if you've somehow managed to bleed dry every other game of its ilk on the market, I still would not recommend getting this. Mercifully I only had to pay £3 for it, which as it features a previously unseen Deftones video made this worthwhile for me, but when a games only selling point is a music video in it, you know you're onto a loser. Avoid.

GRAPHICS - 7/10 - The skaters look crap, but the parks are lovely. Nice textures and generally well designed.

SOUND - 8/10 - With great music from Deftones, System of a Down (Sugar!), Cypress Hill and Pennywise, it's a very cool sounding game.

GAMEPLAY - 2/10 - Oh dear. Did no game testing occur whatsoever?! Awful controls, a messed-up marking scheme, no way to progress and a dodgy frame rate, make this a definite no-no.

LIFESPAN - 4/10 - Whilst technically there are loads of parks and the multi-player modes are actually pretty cool, you still won't want to play this game for more than 5 minutes.

OVERALL - 3/10 - What a disaster! So many good ideas, so badly implemented... Looks and sounds the part, but plays like crap. Very hard to recommend.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 12/20/02, Updated 12/20/02


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