With Tony Hawk Ride the question of cost is unavoidable. That the recommended retail price is £100 (though it can be found for £80) is not even the biggest shocker here. It's exacerbated by the fact that you can only play Ride with the very reason for that wallet assault, the enormous white elephant that is the wireless board controller.
Apparently it's all Tony Hawk's idea. Get rid of "complex button combinations" and allow a "dynamic hands-free gaming experience", and surely you've a skateboarding game as close to the real thing as it's possible to get without smashing your funny bone. Nice idea, but what you actually get is severely twitchy controls. Early, gentler levels are simple enough to get the hang of, but as you progress to more complex urban courses the board's limitations are exposed.
Push It Real Good
You push off by sliding your foot past one of the sensors on either side of the board while leaning left and right steers. It sounds fine but there's a distinct breakdown in communication somewhere between yourself and the board. You tell the game to do something a bit trickier than a grab or a kick flip and the game flashes up the little icon that confirms your command has been registered. But you'll suddenly clock that no matter how much you wiggle the board of wave your feet about, the board is completely ignoring both you and the game.
Anything that requires a degree of precision or agility is successful randomly. If you want to chain together a series of moves, there's a small but often chain-breaking delay between your gesture and the moves being performed.
In the Speed, Trick and Freeskate modes it's not so crucial because your progress through the game doesn't depend so much on skill, more on waggling the board about to see what happens and rack up substantial scores. Against other players the sensitivity problems are an unintentionally hilarious bonus, but in Challenge mode it's a game breaker, and it's not very funny at all.
The game design is far short of inspired, but if the board worked that would all have been glossed over - skating itself would have been great fun, and you wouldn't have noticed the paltry freeskating areas or the pedestrian race segments, or the half-baked world in general that has none of the zip or thrill of any previous Tony Hawk game.
DJ Hero and Guitar Hero just about justified their prices, but, crucially, they worked. Ride, on the other hand, fails miserably.