Review by KasketDarkfyre

"Tony Hawk and Dark Summit Hybrid"

Whilst browsing through the games section, my fingers danced over copies of Dark Summit, Tekken Tag and this little unknown game that I found hidden back behind the racks of games. Without many fanfares or anything else, I took a look at the back of the box and assumed that the game was nothing more than a Tony Hawk/Dark Summit mixture that I wasn’t really going to enjoy. However, after playing through the game for nearly half a day and completing some of the various tasks, I found that this title is something all of its own! Refreshing in one sense, but strangely familiar in another, Airblade could possibly be the next wave of extreme games.

A Boy And His Board…

The storyline that you find within Airblade is nothing short of the usual stand-by with an evil conglomerate that is looking to keep a top-secret device away from the public. Much like Dark Summit, you have to complete missions and goals in order to advance while using the tried and true Tony Hawk system of performing tricks in order to gain points. Now, the selling point of this game is that you aren’t restricted to the ground anymore, but rather you have a device that is more like a hover board from Back to the Future. With this device, you can perform wild tricks anywhere, all while floating above the ground!

Floating Through With The Greatest Of Ease…

Throughout your progress of the game, you are given a certain amount of goals that you have to complete. Where as in Tony Hawk 3, you could complete them at any given time, but here you have to do them one at a time. From the rails, to the ramps and nailing enemies, you can perform several different tricks off of just about any service, whether it is stationary or moving at a fast pace. The stages are set up with a time limit, and each time you complete a goal, seconds are added to the timer which allows you to continue further into the game and unlock various secrets for later use! This ramps up the replay value tremendously and opens options for the multiplayer mode.

Most of what you’re looking to do with the missions is simply find someplace and start racking up points while taking out various enemies and continuing a heavy trick combination. While this might sound fairly easy to start, there are instances where the goals seem to be just a little out of your reach and balancing on super-long grinds takes quite a bit of practice to get them right. Once you’ve run out of energy, you end up looking at a game over screen, which can really screw you if you haven’t saved recently. Once you’ve locked down the harder goals in the stages, then there should be no real problem getting where you need to go and ultimately defeating the game in under six or seven hours.

The control is probably one of the hardest things that you’ll have to deal with in Airblade. For the most part, your tricks won’t be interrupted, no matter where you are, which is a plus, but getting your character to move is extremely slow. Most of the trick combinations and high scoring movements can be done easily through successful landing and movement of your board. Although the tricks may seem hard to pull off, you’ll find that if you have any sort of Tony Hawk experience, then you can use all of the different tricks and the combinations with little or no problem. Scoring is what will get you through to the end of the game and even unlocking other characters is almost like Jet Grind Radio in the way that you run into them and eventually get them for use.

The Shading Is Apparent…

Visually, Airblade has plenty to offer with clean looking and detailed environments. All of the visual effects that you may expect throughout the game rival that of Tony Hawk 3, but have that slightly dulled quality that Dark Summit installs. Even though Airblade has little in terms of problems, you may find that using the camera option in certain areas to look around will cause the screen to shake violently, and even cut it out completely. I’m really not sure what brings this on, but all in all, you have something that is well worth looking at regardless of the small technical problem. The most disappointing thing is the camera with some of the angles. This is apparent when you get into the higher stages with more goals that require you to go above ground level, which can put a stop to the action.

Dance, Dance, Dance…

Audio wise, you have plenty of neo aged music to accompany the theme of the game play in each of the stages. As a little bonus, you’ll find that the game also offers you the ability to listen to the different music tracks and if you like what you hear, then use it, or play the CD player instead. The sound effects range from the warble of the board when it grinds to the different voice effects from enemies taunting you or otherwise. Put all of these different features together and you’ve got a game that is really worth listening to as well as watching and playing. Once you’ve gotten the groove of the game down, the theme and overall action of the game is brought to life for some pretty good and fast moving action.

Slide and Glide…

Although Airblade is more or less a cross of two other games, the idea here is to give you a world that doesn’t restrict you to gravity or the ground itself. With plenty of tricks and stages as well as secrets that you can unlock through good game play, there is enough here to keep any extreme sport purist content. Once you’ve got a good handle on the control, then everything else in the game is easily taken care of with enough common sense. For those of you looking for a good game that does a better job than Dark Summit, but retains that Tony Hawk feel, Airblade is right up your alley for either a rent or a purchase!

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 02/03/02, Updated 02/04/03

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