Review: Aggressive Inline
Posted 07 Nov 2002 at 04:05 by Dan
For all those Aggressive rollerblading fans out there, your time has come. A video game has finally been made to capture all the aspects of the sport. Acclaim, the company known for their other extreme sports franchises such as Tony Hawk, and Dave Mirra has decided to make a game for all the rollerblading fans out there. Knowing that it is an Acclaim game means that it should be another great addition to the plethora of stellar titles they have already released. Z Axis took the Tony Hawk ideas and decided to create a new rollerblading game. But IS IT another stellar title? Or is it just a run of the mill extreme sports title?
Like the other Acclaim offerings, the graphics of AI (aggressive inline) are good, but could have been better. However, Z Axis has taken the 3d engine of the game to the max, and it is obvious when you play through the levels. The landscapes stretch for as far as the eye can see, and everywhere you look there are buildings, or trees, or other objects to feast your eyes upon. Sparks fly from your skates as you grind around, and excessive blood sprays from your body as you scrape along the ground. The only problem with AI is the low polygon count characters. The characters look bad considering the shear vastness of the levels. Also, there are some tricks that look awkward, while others look very fluid. All in all, the graphics are certainly good enough, but should be worked on for the sequel.
I can sum this up in one word: Yuk! Well, I guess it all depends on your musical tastes, but as in most Acclaim extreme sports games, the music comes from a very poor selection and most of the time I find myself turning it down. The sound itself, on the other hand, is fine. You have the grind sounds that change depending on surfaces, and people that you can talk to. The sound is good, but the music all depends on personal taste. And personally, I hate it.
Before everyone just goes and assumes that this game is basically just Tony Hawk 3 in roller blades, I will tell you that it is not. It certainly resembles THPS3 very much, but there are differences that make this game so much better. For one, Z axis has gotten rid of the annoying timer, and replaced it with a 'Juice Meter.' The juice meter is pretty much a special meter that does more than provide specials. When the meter rises you can perform specials, but when the meter falls to zero you get a 'Game Over' screen and you must forfeit 100,000 points to continue. The meter falls when you fall, and rises when you do tricks. So, the game forces you to get good at doing tricks, and stop falling. To go along with the juice meter, there is now 'Juice Boxes' spread out through out the levels. There are green, purple, and yellow ones. The boxes either raise your juice meter up more, or make the entire juice meter longer depending on what boxes you get.
Another major change is the addition of some RPG elements. Yes, RPG elements in a sports game. Instead of being forced to find points in the levels as in TH games, the player gets better at his or her skills by actually doing them. As you grind, for example, you will gain experience in that particular skill. When you get enough experience, you skill will raise one level. It is as simple as that. However, there are one skill point to find per level that will raise a particular skill by one point. This new feature makes the game much better, because you are not forced to go around and find hidden points in every level.
As in Tony Hawk and Dave Mirra, you must complete challenges to unlock new levels and secrets. In this game, however, there are much more challenges to complete, and so the game is much longer. Also, there are challenges in the levels that are really hard, which can be a good thing, or a bad one. Like the other games, doing challenges might cause an event to happen, and watching those happen is very rewarding, and there are plenty of those in each level. More than any previous extreme sports game.
The multiplayer experience is just as fun as Tony Hawk or Dave Mirra, but not overly so. There are some new never before seen modes, such as 21, and Egg Hunt, but it is still basically the same. In 21, the juice boxes in the stages are changed into playing cards and you must get as close to 21 as you can. If you fall you lose all your cards and must search for some more. In Egg Hunt the juice boxes are turned to eggs and you must get as many as you can within the time limit without falling over. All multiplayer modes are timed, which is good for the most part. However, there should have been a multiplayer free skate option. Overall, the multiplayer experience is fun, but not overwhelmingly so.
Career mode in AI is amazingly fun because there is so much to do and see in each level. When you are done doing that you can play your levels on the Free Skate mode, or go against your friends in the Multiplayer mode in the levels you unlocked. Also, there is a Timed mode, and a Create-a-Park mode as well.
You can also design your own skate parks with the create-a-park editor. As you complete challenges in the career mode, you will unlock new pieces in the editor. It is a fairly good editor, but the area you have to work with is quite small so it is hard to design a good park.
The levels in AI are massive and all gamers can rejoice. There are seven of them in total, which may seem like not many, but the shear vastness of them easily makes up for it. Many challenges flood each level, and make the game last for a good long time. There are keys needed to unlock parts in the levels, and you need to find those to advance. Speaking NPCs are a good addition, and the challenges range from simple timed point trials to finding an area and grinding over it. Also, you can see what challenges you have, and look at a 'fly through' of the objective. It will show you where the thing is you have to, which is VERY helpful. Every time you compete every challenge in a lever you unlock a secret character, and those can be used for a new career of on multiplayer.
Overall, this game contains an extremely fun single player experience, and a good multiplayer mode for those who might have some friends to play with. The only thing missing from this game is the create-a-skater mode, and it is sorely missed. It is one of the major things that they really needed to add. Also, there are some collision problems where your character will be sent flying really far from running into a car, or falling through the floor into nothingness.
Many will find these controls very similar to Tony Hawk, and that is because they are. This is a good thing, and most will find the controls very easy to get used to, and very easy to use. Basically, you jump, grind, and flip your way to point as you skate around the levels. The controls are well thought out and they fit the Gamecube pad very well.
This game will keep you coming back for quite a while so you can see 100% complete for all levels. There are secret characters to unlock and specials to get, so it will take a while to totally finish the whole game. However, after that point there is not much left to do, and you may find yourself getting sick of the game at that point. But the multiplayer will add some hours of fun, as will the park editor.
This game is great. It is about time there was a good rollerblading game out there, and all extreme sports fans should be happy with this game. If you are a fan of any of the other extreme sports games you should go and pick this title up, you won't be disappointed.
N-Europe Final Verdict
A great addition to any Gamecube library.
Many fun hours