The booth for Tony Hawk: Ride silently mocked Ashley Davis and myself for the first two days of E3. Forever surrounded by eager attendees at all times, it promised the most fully interactive gameplay experience short of breaking into the Microsoft offices and stealing Project Natal.
Not being experienced skateboarders in real life, Davis and I were frightened, yet compelled. Attracted, yet repulsed. When we arrived in the West Hall on this final day of E3, however, the choice was clear: try playing a skateboarding game by standing on that hard little piece of plastic, or go home unfulfilled.
Frightened, yet interested, we stepped on the boards.
You can find our impressions after the jump.
Anthony: Sup, sk8r d00d.
Ashley: I’m breaking up with you.
Ashley: But then again, I do like Tony Hawk games.
Anthony: I do too. I played the very first one to death, though I admittedly sort of stopped after that point.
I was so good at the first one. Chris Airs like a motherfucker.
That’s a move.
Chris Airs sounds like a gay, skydiving magician.
Ashley: I thought maybe that was some obscure skater that was a secret character or something.
Anthony: It might as well have been. I didn’t recognize any of the Real Life Awesome Skaters that Ride tried to impress us with.
But we’re not really their demographic. Apart from the fact that we like good games.
Ashley: Tony Hawk 2 was good games.
So I was really interested to see how the game would work without a controller, with someone who had never skateboarded before in real life atop it.
Anthony: Same here. I think I tried to ollie once as a child, maybe.
It wasn’t pretty.
Ashley: The skateboard peripheral, I mean.
Anthony: Right. What did you think of it? Our demo actually put our characters on autopilot so we could focus on just doing tricks — I dunno if the full game will be like that, or if they just did it to simplify the demo. Probably the latter.
Ashley: I believe that’s the case. And I’m glad, because I think maybe that would have been too much to process in the short time that we had.
The first thing that caught my attention was the fact that the board is built so durable, that players are expected to wear shoes when using it.
Anthony: Preferrably Sketchers n’ shit.
It’s the S.
Ashley: I think that adds a lot to the realness of the experience.
I mean, you wouldn’t feel right riding a skateboard with socks on.
Anthony: I liked how you really had to pop the skateboard with the force and speed you actually need in real life — you can’t just sort of bring the back end up at your own pace to make your guy jump. You’ve gotta pop that shit.
I know that, because the girl who helped me play the demo kept going “POP!”
Ashley: Yeah. I actually had trouble with that, because I was scared to be too rough with it. We had just come from Wii Fit Plus, where you’re not allowed to jump around the way you need to on the skateboard.
I couldn’t break myself of that “be careful!” mindset.
Anthony: I had the opposite problem — I was too emphatic with my motions and I almost fell off a few times. I nearly tackled the demo girl a few times.
But she wasn’t bad looking. It woulda been alright.
Anthony: You already broke up with me. I moved on.
But anyway, I’m really torn on the skateboarding.
On the one hand, stuff like positioning your board to grind or popping feels really great.
On the other hand, it was kind of weird popping in what I thought was the exact same way two different times, and getting two drastically different moves.
Ashley: I felt a much closer tie to what was going on in the game than I ever did using the controller, but I don’t know whether or not I prefer it.
Anthony: First time I got a kickflip, and the second time I got a…something else. A 180 pimp flip. To a…darkslide.
It was sweet.
Or sick, rather.
Ashley: It does seem like that one popping movement does a lot of different things, which might be a problem if you want to do something specific. Maybe there’s something more to it that we don’t know yet.
Anthony: I think the controller may be a bit wonky in understanding movements, or it may just be really, really sensitive. Which would be great. Not for us, necessarily, but for people who are really into the nuance of skateboarding.
Ashley: Luckily, it seems that the game has several modes of difficulty, so I think there is something there for both us and those who actually know what they’re doing on a board.
Really though, besides the special sensors on the board (one on the side to sense your kick-off foot), it’s really just a long Wii Fit board, I think.
Anthony: It felt more sensitive than that to me. It doesn’t just measure where you’re putting your weight — it also allows you to do manuals really intuitively (which was a LOT of fun, actually) and, again, the popping.
And it measures how you rotate the board if you want to do a different kind of grind or trick or something.
Ashley: Yeah, it’s much better suited for the game than just using the Wii Fit board. Again, I really felt like I was doing what was appearing on the screen in front of me.
It felt really good just to rock the board back and forth, which I would assume would steer your character.
Anthony: Yeah, ideally. Seems like it’d be a very difficult, but potentially satisfying game to master if the actual mechanics work as they’re intended. I feel weird commenting on how stuff felt, because our demo was so limited without even the possibility for steering, but it felt pretty decent. Perhaps a bit too sensitive for someone like me, but I can’t tell if that’s just me being crappy at the game or the board malfunctioning.
Ashley: I didn’t feel the senitivity, but maybe it’s because I was actually wearing skating shoes. Vans are very comfortable to wear on the show floor.
Anthony: You’re such a sick sk8r.
Ashley: The sickest.
Anthony: I’m going to go hit on the chick who walked me through the demo.
Ashley: I’m going to go hit on Chad.
Anthony: …I was literally like an inch away from saying, “don’t make me go OJ on you,” but then I was like “Jesus, that’s way too far. That’s awful.”
But now I’ve said it anyway.
Bustin’ makes me feel good.