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Gamecube Reviews: Aggressive Inline

 

Aggressive Inline Screenshots

The Final Say!

Gameplay
9.5
Graphics
9.0
Sound
7.5
Value
10

Aggressive Inline - reviewed by Rick T
Review Date: 31 October 2002
Review Score: 9/10 
Distributor: Acclaim

I was always a bit sceptical about Aggressive Inline. I was never into rollerblading in real life or otherwise, but then again, I thought to myself, I have never stood on a skateboard in my life but I adore the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. Its virtually impossible to review AI without mentioning THPS, the two games are very similar, but its in good ways. In a lot of respects AI actually improves on the formula of THPS2 + 3 to the extent that it really does stand up on its own merits.

From the controls to the licensed soundtrack its all very familiar, but I have found myself recently thinking that AI really does throw a lot more into the mix than is first obvious. I will try not to compare the two games too much, but really its kind of inevitable that it will boil down to which one is better, but I digress.

If you have played any of the THPS series of games you will need no introduction to the basics of the game, if you haven't played a THPS game, then stop reading this review and go out and buy any version of THPS2 or 3 on any of the systems they are playable on (which I think is pretty much every system available anyway). The games play brilliantly, from a non-sports playing gamer like myself I would liken more to an action/adventure game than a sports simulation. 

Getting back to total video game basics of getting the highest score possible is totally visceral and incredibly rewarding. Learning moves, linking tricks, discovering new techniques, its all apart of AI, and its a really great game for people who have never played this style of game, with a great tutorial and dude to the massive amount of freedom your given, you can take things at exactly the pace you want to. The buttons are assigned in a traditional THPS manner that is very easy to get to grips with, I found even the small Gamecube D-Pad worked very well and never let me down, also the analog stick seems to control a lot tighter than it did in THPS3.

All the goals for the massive stages are listed in the pause screen and you can easily see what exactly is you need to do by checking the details of each goal.

There are the usual suspects like grind from point A to point X, or score X amount of points in X amount of time but because the levels you skate in are so incredibly massive things never get repetitive, there are always new areas to unlock, usually with their own set of specific goals as well. AI doesn't skimp on the difficulty either, there are some goals which are brutally hard, requiring you to pick up multiple items and delivering them to very hard to reach places for instance. The difficulty is a lot more extreme than THPS3, I have completed THPS3 100% but am no where near that on AI.

The single most impressive aspect of AI's gameplay has to be the way you increase your skill levels. Instead of having to collect points and allocate them to different abilities, all you do is do grind, grabs, manuals etc, and the more you do them and score big points off them, your ability will go up incrementally. Its absolute genius and adds so much to the game structure its incredible.

Can't wall ride for the amount of seconds you need to complete a goal? Then you better keep practising wallrides until your ability level goes up. Its so simple, it seems crazy it isn't the standard way of building your abilities in this genre, maybe after this game it will be the standard.

Also of note is that there are no time limits for stages as such, instead you have a trick meter, that slowly depletes if you aren't doing tricks or combos, technically you can skate around one area for hours, as long as the trick meter is kept ticking over, this allows you to really explore the massive levels and discover new trick lines, bonuses, goals, etc.

The levels are amazing, its impossible to coney just how big they are, the geography and simply the amount of square kilometres per stage is mind blowing, and considering the amount of textures and effects going on, its a real achievement that the game runs at 60fps locked, with the tiniest amount of pop up, and I am really being pedantic just mentioning the pop up. The Gamecube incarnation performs noticeably better than the PS2 original, as well as having a cleaner look about it.

Its hard to stay objective bout the soundtrack to AI, I don't like the new punk/hardcore style of music too much and it almost totally dominates the soundtrack, with a couple of hip hop songs traditionally thrown into the mix. If you like bands like The Vandals and Lagwagon then add another half a point to my score. If you don't then its just as easy to turn the music off, which I did, and thankfully the sound effects and ambient street noises more than make up for a lack of music and stops the game from sounding empty.

Overall AI is an excellent game. Its hard to fault it except for a lack of originality, but when a game plays this well and adds such awesome features to a genre full of pedestrian clones, then it should get all the credit it deserves. And yes, I think it IS better than THPS3, as an overall package Aggressive Inline JUST nudges out the originator,... THPS4 will definitely have to take a leaf out of AI's book, and then some,  to prove its leadership in this genre

- Rick T

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