Review by RyuGB

"Neversoft has a real rival on their hands."

Ever since I played the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater the action sport genre has proven to be one of my favorites. Striking while it is hot many imitators have been spawned, and nearly every sport has been exploited. Heck, even scooters got a game. What has surprised me is Inline Skating a sport I enjoy myself has yet to get its due. Well, that all changes come now. Thanks to Z-Axis developers of the critically acclaimed Dave Mirra series. Lets just hope the end product isn't like a bad wipe out.

Gameplay: What we have here is Tony Hawk, only with Inline skated opposed to skateboards. That is really the only difference. Now that isn't necessarily a bad thing, in fact the game adds a few new wrinkles to make it stand out from the rest of the pack. These new ''wrinkles'' come in the form of the ability to swing on vertical or horizontal poles, and the ability to hitch a ride off the back of a moving vehicle known as ''skitching''. While they may not sound like much they help to expand combo possibilities. Taking another page from Tony Hawk A.I comes equipped with the manual and revert now known simply as a ''cess slide''. In typical Z-Axis fashion the career mode is tougher to beat then a bad bout of constipation. Completing goals is usually the easy part, rather goals can sometimes take you several hours just to figure out. In fact, I spent four hours on a single goal! Of special note the typical time meter has been removed in favor of the ability to freely explore the levels. Sort of that is. To compensate the developers inserted a juice meter that you have to constantly have to keep up. You accomplish this by either combos or the juice boxes in the levels, run out and you get fined 100k to continue. Ouch! In order to not make high score goals too simple a time meter pops up for a special appearance. Clever! I must hand it to the developer the goals are simply ingenious. Whether it be hand planting a seat on a moving Ferris wheel, destroying a Mammoths frozen enclosure, or retrieving a little girls skates the goals never fail to entertain. The levels themselves are also highly impressive with themes such as a Museum, Movie Lot, or a carnival, and the scale is unbelievable as I'll express in the graphics section.
The second mode of the game multi-player is very entertaining, with the slowdown the only thing hampering the fun. (look in graphics section)

Graphics: The graphics are very nice, but considering the sheer size of the levels, coupled with the amount of architecture they push its not without problems. First off while the texturing on the levels for the most part is very good, the character models for the skaters themselves are pretty skimpy on the polygons. Bottom line: The character models in Tony Hawk 3, and Dave Mirra for that matter sport more detail. Another graphical flaw is major cutting on your skater when you scan you're surroundings via the right analog stick. A flaw I must add that Tony Hawk 3 suffered from as well. However, these flaws can be forgiven since the level size is almost beyond comprehension. Surprisingly the levels are even larger then those present in Dave Mirra 2, and those were simply huge to start with. Heck, the levels start out more or less the same size as the ones in Mirra, and are made even larger once you find the hidden key for a given stage. I kid you not that often the levels are doubled in size. Huge to say the least. As for the frame-rate its rock solid, but in multi-player it's sketchy to say the least. Expect it to dip quite often.

Sound: The typical punk rap soundtrack accompanies this game, much like most games of this genre. The sound effects used are par for the course, but the high usage of voice overs must be noted. Just not in the way you might expect. Running into pedestrians will illicit a response, which most often is a barrage of foul language aimed directly at you. Heck, a clown told me he would bust a cap in my ass if I didn't complete a goal! Man, and I thought the strong language descriptor was just for the songs....

Control: Controls are allot like Tony Hawk, the exception being the air tricks/flips are both mapped to the square button. The reason behind this is to free up the circle button for multiple functions. They are: swing on vertical of horizontal poles, talk to people, or skitch a moving vehicle. At first this change of controls was really annoying, but after I gave it a few hours it was no longer a problem. Heck, the developers even wised up and made the manual a up down process opposed to the double tap of Dave Mirra. I must note If you happen to own more then one of the new consoles, but own a PS2 get this version. I've played trick games on Xbox and the GameCube version of this title for that matter, and can say with confidence the PS2 controller is the smoothest to play the game on. I'm sorry to say it, but that is a simple fact.

Aggressive Inline while not original, proves to be a breath of fresh air in the crowd of Tony imitators. While I still consider Tony Hawk my main stomping grounds, this game isn't too far behind. Great job Z-Axis!


Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/21/02, Updated 08/21/02

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