This year’s Tony Hawk

The graphics seem to have been imported as an afterthought. They’re doable for the most part, but not really what one can call good. While your skater can have all sorts of detail during the building phase, you don’t get to see a whole lot of it until you’re doing the slow motion tricks and close-ups for the cameras. At least they’re there, but there were occasional frame rate issues, and the killer is that they could have been avoided. For example, a disused napkin was trying to float its way across the street, but the motion was so dry and stilted it would break your heart. There were also quite a few issues with clipping where parts of my body dissappeared into objects and walls.

The streets themselves are very busy with all manners of graffitti and items to use for your amusement. There is a lot of details from grass growing out of the sidewalk to pipes laying in all directions in various construction zones. There is a lot of stuff in the streets to jump on, jump over, or just zoom around without it being a clutter. That takes a lot of restraint, and the team deserves to be applauded for that.

The bottom line is that the Wii does not have the power to compete along side the PS3 and 360 to make the game as gorgeous, but you can know where you’re going and what is in front of you. The clipping, and framerate problems lower the score and, frankly, I’ve seen other titles get more out of this console.

The Tony Hawk titles have always had a pretty stellar soundtrack giving players a diverse range of punk, metal, rap, and rock for you to enjoy while you skate.  This year we get over 50 licensed tracks from such artists as Slick Rick, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, The Bled, Jurassic 5, and The Rolling Stones.  Given the diverse track list, you

In a word: maddening. Really, I blame myself. I wanted to try something new, and I was found lacking in dexterity, fingers, and patience.

It all seemed simple enough: A to crouch, let go of A to ollie, Z to grab and C for flip tricks. That’s rather uninspiring, and adding the control stick to tweak these moves completely misses the point of the Wiimote. Grinding consists of a tap of the A button to ollie into an edge and holding the B trigger. Nosegrinding involves pressing forward on the control stick while pressing the trigger, or go 5-0 by holding the control stick down along with B. Boardslide, Noseslide, Feeble/Smithy (bottom corners), and Crooked/Overcrook (upper corners); it is all there. Stalls and Inverts are done by holding the B-trigger and the control stick or holding B and C at the same time at the lip of the ramp or edge. To revert on landing, hold the Z when you hit the surface of an aerial trick. Yeah? Ok, a couple button combos and the control stick on the Nunchuk and you’re on easy street. Then the real tricky stuff comes at you.

To “Nail the Trick” you first get airborne and then press Z + B. So you’re flying, slow motion stylin, and ready to show the world what you can do. The left side foot is controlled by the Nunchuk and the right-side foot by the Wiimote. Ok, got that? Not your left foot, but the foot shown on the left side (dependong on camera angle) is controlled by the ‘chuk. The screen then clues you into gestures to flip the board about. Keep holding the Wiimote and/or nunchuk until it goes all the way around and with trucks down you press Z + B to land. That sounds all fine and dandy, but trying to get the deck back under my feet properly, in a timely fashion, proved to be a massive challenge. If you’re precise with your controller motions on the axis (exactly up, down, left or right) you get a “perfect flip” bonus to your score. I was lucky my poor avatar still had flesh let alone land perfectly.

In summation, there’s lots of control options. There are lots of buttons and leaning with the attitude sensors in the Wiimote & ‘chuk, and you can do a lot of things with some serious practice. The problem is that the only thing I found natural was casting the Wiimote like a fishing pole for the Aggro Kick motion. The moves and options got much more involved later and I, for the sake of my sanity, didn’t even go there.

This is actually 3 games-in-one. You can become a rigger, a hardcore skater, or make it into a career. Each has lengthy paths to follow and perfect, and each one may interest different people in different manners. If you’re into setting up ramps and jumps and defying death in that style, then rigging may be your forte. If you just want to skate and the rest of the world can go jump itself then you sound like you’re hardcore. But if you have the skills and style to make a living out of skating, then you have yourself a career. The paths are distinct and varied and it’s hard to find something you don’t want to do. That’s a good thing.

Talk to various pros around the area and they can introduce you to each style. Rig master Jeff King will have you jump over some cars to start the rigging campaign. You only get a few basic items, but you can place them anywhere you like to get the job done in your own fashion. The controls on this are very straight forward. You pick and item, and place it anywhere you want and in any direction you want. Get a running start, get the jump and fly over the object while the camera shutters flap like hummingbirds to immortalize you.

The hardcore mode is new. Utlizing the aggro kick you build speed for those maniacal jumps that let you soar over spans that make the muggles fret. There’s some timing required to get the aggro kick working right, and if you’re off by too much your momentum is lost. Get the speed going and you can knock the fools out of your way as you make like a bullet-train to nirvana.

In addition to the rigger, hardcore, and career stuff there are also career objectives that usually have you meeting up with a pro and then trying to achieve whatever tricks they can dream up.  The usual There is so much to do that the game is, honestly, very high value. Not just the three main modes of play, but the multiplayer and abundant customization options are a big winner. The Wii’s controls have a fairly steep learning curve initially, but once you get a feel where everything is I’m sure it gets better. There is literally something in here for everyone, and until there is an actual Wii-deck to stand on this is about as active as you can get in your living room. There’s room for improvement with the controls, and the Wii isn’t the prettiest of platforms to work on, but if you’re tempted to get the game, and this is your only platform option, then hesitate no further.