Review by ProtoNephilim

"Z-Axis delivers again"

Z-Axis are the masterminds behind innovative and luminous extreme sports games such as Trasher: Skate & Destroy and BMX XXX. They're in all probability most famous for their Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX-games and their controversial title BMX XXX. It is with great delight I present to you, one of their finest gems to date, Aggressive Inline…

(It's inevitable to mention Tony Hawk in this review, so bear with me.)

Aggressive Inline is of the extreme sports games' sub-genre inline skating, and so far it's the only one in its field. In the game, instead of using a skateboard or a BMX bike, you travel around with a pair of inline skates on your feet. You have several game modes to choose from, ranging from Career and Freeskate to Timed Run and Multiplayer. If Freeskate and Timed Run is the tip, then Career is the iceberg. In Career you search for challenges and try to beat them. There are four ways of getting challenges. You can pause the game and look at the challenges list. You can skate around the levels and search for people willing to assign you a challenges. Those are indicated by a bubble above their head. You can also just do stuff and hope for it to be a challenge. Those are called hidden challenges and the only way to reveal them is to complete them. The last way of getting new challenges is to unlock the locked area each level has. That way you are given more challenges. Every level has between twenty to thirty-five challenges each, so the game has over 150 challenges! Very impressive!

When playing in Career, there is no time limit. As a replacement for time, is juice. That's J-U-I-C-E. You have a juice meter, and you fill it up by making big tricks and drain it by crashing or standing still doing nothing. Scattered around the levels are juice boxes, which, depending on their color, will fill the juice meter to a certain degree. Special juice boxes expand the juice meter so it grows larger. As long as the juice don't run out, you can continue skating as long as you like. If you skate really well and fill the juice meter to the limit, it will start to glow, and so will your skates. At this point, you can perform all the special tricks you've unlocked this far. When the juice meter is full however, it starts to drain rather rapidly until the juice meter is at about seventy-five percent. You can prevent this by continuing doing tricks. If you run out of juice completely, it's game over. You can continue the game by paying with trick points you've earned.

Multiplayer in this game is really fun and I've spent many happy hours playing against my friends, my sister and my girlfriend. You have five game modes to choose from, and those are Most Points, Best Trick, Egg Hunt, Twenty One and Animal Rescue. The latter three being the most fun to play and most original. In Egg Hunt you have to skate around and find eggs. Is more fun than it sounds. Twenty One is a card game where you search for cards with numbers. You want to pick cards so you come as close to twenty-one as possible. If you crash the cards disappear. In Animal Rescue you must rescue (obviously) as many animals as possible before the time runs up. Trickier than it sounds, as you have to look really hard to find the little buggers. The only game mode I miss is Freeskate, for the reason that it would be wonderful to be able to explore the levels with a friend.

As in any Z-Axis game, the levels are enormous, interactive and varied. In Aggressive Inline you have seven levels: Movie Lot, Civic Center, Industrial Plant, Boardwalk, Tuna Cannery, Airfield, and Museum. When you're presented with a level, you'll become aware of how much bigger it is compared to any level from Grind Session, Airblade or Tony Hawk Pro Skater (pick any game). You have at your disposal endless trick-lines ahead of you, big air to be conquered over and surreal settings for incredible inline skating to master. And that's only what you're presented with. Soon you've unlocked new areas and found secret places to work your magic on. Each level literally grows as you play the game. In each level you'll come across locked doors. To open one of those, you must find a key that fits to that specific door. The thing is though, that the key to a door can't be found in the level the door's located in. This makes Aggressive Inline the first game in its genre to include backtracking. But it's not just to go to another level and find a key that fits; you must examine every notch of the level and really search for it to find it. You won't just run into a key by accident while playing. But is it worth the effort? In my opinion it's definitely worth the effort. The levels often become twice or trice as big with the new area, and with each new area comes new challenges for you to undertake. Quality over quantity they say. Aggressive Inline offers both.

In Aggressive Inline, you have attributes. Attributes is made up of certain aspects of your inline skating, like jumping, grinding and spinning. Others are speed, manual, fakie and wallride. By progressing in the game, your attributes levels up, allowing you to jump higher and spin faster. The concept isn't new, but the way it's used in the game is. Let's say Player A prefers to grind in order to make huge combo-lines, but Player B uses manuals to bind trick-strings together. Player A will soon end up with impressive grinding skills, while Player B will be able to manual whole levels with ease. The stats build up in real-time as you use them. The idea could have ended up in a game where you would have to spend maybe an hour on each attribute to have it fully leveled up. But in Aggressive Inline, don't expect to finish the game with maxed-out stats. I'd say you have an additional seven hours of continuous playing before you reach a full Level 10 on each attribute. Put in mind that the game offers ten real-life inline-skating professionals, two made-up female skaters, and seven bonus-characters. That's no less than nineteen skaters with I don't know how many hours of insanely fun gameplay each.

Standard in today's extreme sports games are gaps. Normally I wouldn't mention gaps in a review, but since this game don't have them, I'll make an exception. For you who don't know what a gap is, it is the empty space between two objects you can land tricks on. If you start grinding on one rail, then jump and land a grind on another, then that's a gap. Or if you jump from one roof to another, then that's a gap. So what did I mean when I said this game have no gaps? Well, this game has no gaps by video-game definition, meaning you won't get any flashy pop-up text-message saying you've “found a gap” when you for example have transferred from one ramp to another or cleared other impressive air. Instead, you're the one to decide what's a gap and what's not and if a gap is demanding enough to try and make it. And I do say, this game gives you the coolest gaps in any video-game today, in my opinion. And that's pretty darn good for a game that has no gaps, eh? The thing is, you can do the craziest gaps early in the game, only to top them later when you're jumping attribute has increased. See two quarter-pipes, with a distance between them so big that if this was a PSX title, the infamous fog effect would kick in. Don't give up until you've nailed it; the reward makes up for it. What reward you say? The reward of feeling like a pro.

The sound in this game is nothing but great. The sound of leveling up your attributes sounds beautiful, especially when you've fought for that level up for three hours. Each level has its own theme, and each theme have its own sound. In the Tuna Cannery level you'll hear seagulls, the machinery of the cannery and the captain addressing his fellow workers and bring them up to date of changes in the schedule using the speaker system, and in the Boardwalk level clowns will pick on you. Pedestrians walking the streets in the Movie Lot level will call you by names, talk and drop idiotic comments from time to time. The dialogue in the game is pretty much non-stop humorous. Other sounds are from ghosts, rats, thunder and cars crashing into you. During the short but entertaining movie-sequences, the sound-effects are all perfect. The music section of the sound is also great. Z-Axis certainly knows their music. My only complaint is that the soundtrack is relatively short.

Buy or Rent? Nowadays it's cheaper to buy this game than renting it. So even if you are the renting type, buy it. Unlocking every secret character, trick and area this game has to offer takes time, as do leveling up each character to the maximum. I bought this game a year ago and I still play it. I played it so late as of an hour ago and I thought you should play it. Hence this review. I mean, your aim is to have fun, right? Well, let me tell you, with Aggressive Inline, it's not hard to reach what you aim for.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 03/09/06

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