Tony Hawk Ride is the newest foray into the skateboarding genre and attempts to do something new by introducing a skateboard peripheral. The skateboard replica that has been created for this game looks very similar to the real thing, minus the wheels. The board senses your movement and actions through the use of 4 sensors located on each side of the board. While demoing the game movements were responsive and everything seem to work fairly well.
As it should be expected, buying a game with a substantial peripheral like this is going to set you back a bit more than a normal disc only game. Although there isn't any official price expect to drop between $100-120 for the game and board as a package.
Since this is a peripheral that will require a lot of playing room there will be no co-operative play requiring two or more boards. Rather, any local multiplayer will be hot swap, where each person will do their run and then switch out for another player. From simply demoing the game it's easy to see that you'll want to have at least a good 4-5 feet in any direction when playing this game. Otherwise, we may well start seeing a bunch of reports of possessions being destroyed like what was seen when people started throwing Wiimotes into television screens.
Controlling the board is pretty straight forward. To change the direction you're moving, simple turn the board is that direction. To do a jump, kick one of the ends up. To grind a railing, jump on top of the rail and turn the board sideways. If you want to grab the board in game while pulling of a trick, it's as simple as reaching down and putting your hand in front of one of the 4 sensors. Although there are obvious limitations, the board does a good job of replicating the real thing.
Since not everyone is a pro at skateboarding, there will be varying difficulties that will cater to people of different abilities. On the easiest setting, casual, the game will be on rails so that a minimal amount of direction correction will be needed and you'll only need to control the tricks or jumps. Stepping up the difficult obviously unlocks greater control to the point where hardcore requires all the control of a real board. Within the game there will be different game modes such as tricks, speed runs, challenges and free skate. Although Ride will have a career mode, it won't be a rags to riches story as per most games of this nature. It will be more of a road trip where you are already an established skater.
Tony Hawk Ride will take you around the world visiting cities within North America, Japan and Europe and should set a new standard for the skateboarding genre. As with all games with peripherals of this size, one can only hope more games will be able to use the board in the future. You'll be able to pick up your copy of Tony Hawk Ride along with the nifty skateboard controller on November 17th 2009.