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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 16, 2009 @ 10:30 am

    Review: Tony Hawk: Ride

    Ciara O'Brien

    I’ll be honest: skateboarding games usually leave me cold.

    I’m not exactly sure why, as I’m a big fan of SSX, and the only real difference is take away the snow and add some wheels. But there you have it.

    However, I might be in the process of changing my mind, and the reason is Tony Hawk: Ride. The game comes with a wireless skateboard controller, which is the key difference between it and every other skate game that I’ve crossed paths with in recent years.

    Instead of sitting back and controlling it through the standard gamepad, you have to hop on the board and try your best not to fall off it while performing ollies, grinds and kickflips.

    It’s not as easy as it sounds – forget Wii Fit, this will give you a set of muscles you never thought you had.

    Movement on the controller will translate into movement in the character on screen. Swiping your foot in front of the sensors on the side of the board will get you started; three swipes is enough to get you up to speed. Tilt the board back at the right pace to perform jumps or manuals. Move the board left and right, and your character will move accordingly.

    There are several modes of play, including exhibition and career, with players able to choose from speed, trick and free skate modes to power through.

    Ride is not one of the easiest games I’ve played. If you’ve never set foot on a skateboard before, there’s a stiff learning curve, and even if you have, getting the hang of the board is a bit tricky.

    I’m told by my resident expert that it’s as close to actual skating as any previous game has gotten, although the real thing is much more difficult. It’s realistic enough; skating into a wall will knock you out and you’ll have to start again in most cases.

    The graphics on the PS3 version are detailed and vivid, and the different environments have enough to keep you entertained. You can grind off most surfaces with a suitable edge, so the top of walls, benches, pipes and railings are all fair game.

    As soon as I have this nailed, I might even be persuaded to head out on a real board. Going on my initial runs on Ride, the chances of broken bones? High.