Review by psxdude2001
"Screw Tony Hawk, we have a new alternative sports king"
Words cannot express the joy I felt when I shoved the Aggressive Inline DVD/Rom into my PlayStation 2. This game is amazing- I'll tell you right now, do whatever it takes to get your hands on AI, because it's the greatest thing since sliced bread (or the Frisbee, scientists are still in debate about that one).
There are several ways to play AI: Free Skate, Career, and Timed. Career mode allows you to start off in a huge expansive level (the movie studio) and work your way to more attribute points that unlock more levels by doing tricks and completing goals. The career mode is so much easier than in previous games (I'll be using Tony Hawk as the reference point throughout the review), because instead of the usual 2 minute timer, you have unlimited time to skate. As long as your power meter stays up (by doing tricks), you can play. Even if the meter runs out, you can continue from where you left off by sacrificing a few measly points- no biggie because you can easily get 200 000 points in a single line. Walk up to a pedestrian with a blue skate marker over his head and press O (action) to get a task. The task can range from doing a trick by a certain area for a photographer (over a gap, as per the THPS series), or amassing an amount of points in under a minute to free a ghost. Besides the aforementioned timed missions, you are given unlimted time to hit trick tasks. As you compete tasks, you get points to open movies and new levels.
Career also allows you to increase stats by working on individual areas. If you want to increase rail balance, just grind your ass off and link up complex grinds to gain more points. You can jump higher, skate faster, and revert to increase all your areas up to 10 points. You can constanly check on your progress with pause menu, which also shows you where objectives are located.
Pick-ups lay throughout the levels, for speed and point-multipliers. They're easy to spot, and for the most part, little effort is needed to grab em'. They work well for building speed to hit a ramp, or during timed missions.
If I went into detail about the trick system, this review would be the size of the Encarta. Briefly, Square is for tricks, mixing up right/left/up/down gives you close to a hundred tricks, varying from flips to grabs, combos to spins. Circle is action, which you'll use to talk to pedestrians or swing off objects like benches, walls, and staircases (to reach higher places). Triangle grinds, and ala Tony Hawk you can you switch up maneuvers while midst grinding. R2 is what you Tony Hawkians would call revert, while R1 and L1 spin. The right analogue stick is the camera, and you can move with either the left analogue stick or the control pad.
There are about 10 pro skaters, as well as a few hidden guys. All have lowered start off stats, which encourages you to play through career to increase attributes, which encourages me to swear. This is a huge draw back, because, unlike some, I don't like to play through a game 49558 times just to unlock a new character and maybe- if I'm lucky- big head mode. But, it's a small price to pay for such a piece of heaven.
The graphics are nothing revolutionary, but nothing to laugh WWF SmackDown-ishly at either. AI reminds me of THPS, with all the flashing lights and pedestrian movement, mildly resembles a real life world (would a skater really do a 720 backflip crossover grab off a ramp onto a reverse X grind down a traffic light? Didn't think so). Cars look great- a little cartoonish- but still, better than blocky logs that move like old people with 18 gallons of prunes in their systems. The animation is superb, and if I knew a thing about professional inline skating tricks I'm sure I could tell you how accurate the tricks are. Anyways, it's a beautiful game that runs fine at 60/frames a second. There's no slowdown, AI never skips a beat.
As with all alternative sports games, AI is loaded with punk, rock, and rap. I could do without the rap, but with the amount decent indie rock included in the game, I'm happy. Most notable on the soundtrack is POD with Youth of the Nation- a great track to skate to. The rock is bland, but interesting enough that you'll want to keep it on as you skate.
The sounds of your skates hitting the ground after a 20 foot fall, a clean grind down a nice rail, and drop in to a bowl all hit the mark. Everything sounds the way it should, making the game a really solid depiction of what skating is all about.
Please, do yourself a favor and at least rent Aggressive Inline. This thing will keep you busy for weeks, months, maybe even years! Well, no, that's an exaggeration, but it still kicks some major amounts of ass. Nine out of ten, because some of those challenges were a bit sketchy on what exactly you have to do. Other than that, AI is a solid game that should spawn a successful series for developer X-Axis.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/02/02, Updated 06/02/02
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