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July 9, 2004
Aggressive Inline - Review
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Watch out for the cars!
There have been few quality gaming experiences that I have let slip through my grasps, only to be forced to shovel through dozens, and dozens of overrated titles to once again hold it within my hands. But I have no realised my errors, and have once again found Aggressive Inline. For those like me, who allowed this collective shag of gaming genius to pass them by, it would be my honour to enlighten you all with a short tale. Acclaim, respective creators of the Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX series, surely disappointed by their outing with the second instalment to the franchise they had become so famous for, decided to embark on a new project. With their previous title, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2, not gaining the response they would be hoped for, they decided to trade in their rusted pushbike, for a sparkling pair of rollerblades.

And thus, Aggressive Inline was concieved. Self-proclaimed to be one of the 'fastest experiences' yet, it was immediately assumed by most that due to the painful failure of Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2, that this title would too face the charges and be sentenced to death by destructive criticism, but how wrong they turned out to be. In fact, this game did become one of the 'fastest experiences' yet, fastest off the shelves, that is. This game was aiming for one thing, to change the way gamers viewed the extreme sports genre, this ain't no walk in the park. This is Aggressive Inline.

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Red surveys the town.
One thing that prevents this title from being perfect is the unfortunate fact that this game tries to follow in it's older and wiser relative's, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, footsteps. Which means that no, this game is excused of having a story mode, which is one of few elements preventing this game from winning a gold star. A story mode, with a plot and overall goal to aim for nearing the end, would have easily secured this game top spot over the Hawkman, but unfortunately, it doesn't deliver in this aspect, but it's lucky it does so in all other departments. Instead of a lengthy story mode, players are to endure seven titanic levels which have each been force-fed between thirty and sixty objectives each, so that is enough to keep one busy for long enough, but more on that, soon.

Another promising aspect about this title is it's inclusion to world-class skaters you can assume the role of, during your career mode. Vert World Champion, Taig Khris is included onto the roster, as are Australians Sam Fogarty, and Shane Yost. Or you may choose to play as either of the two new female skaters on the roster, as you increase their attributes as you play.

The gameplay engine has majority originality, which is a good sign for those looking for a revolutionary bound, but unfortunately, it's not that much of a bound, more of a hop, if you ask me. Gamers who had played either Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX, or Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, would be able to insert the disc into their console and know which buttons to press for grind, jump, and grab, but why would developers change that well-known system now? It'd only confuse and scare gamers away from the title. But one obvious addition to this title would have to be the 'action' button, using this button, gamers may interact with items, stationary citizens and they can perform such daring feats as skitching on vehicles, and performing pole vaults. As mentioned, the control system is rather similar to the one used in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, but hey, these days, who doesn't 'borrow' elements from their engine? I mean, developers everywhere have done it at one point, or another, let's be honest.

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Grindng along the edge.
And this gameplay engine can be tested on a mammoth seven levels, ranging from a movie lot, to a museum, each presenting between thirty, and sixty, tasks to complete, each. However, unlike Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, players are not forced to complete these tasks within a harshly limited time amount. Instead, they are introduced to the 'Juice Meter', which is similar to the special bar used in the well-known skateboarding franchise we all love. Skaters in this game must maintain their 'Juice Meter', to assure there is juice in it, otherwise it's game over, juice can be acquired by continuously performing any of the several dozen aerial stunts within the game, or simply collecting the various juice boxes scattered across the levels. And different to Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, a player does not need to collect 'stat' icons to be able to increase his abilities. This time around, a player simply exercises his skill and he will level up, this takes time and patience, but if you desire to become the best, it's a price you'd be willing to pay.

The multiplayer mode, eerily enough plays similarly to that of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, go figure. But hey, at least there are unique games involved, here. Not the same old 'H.O.R.S.E', and 'Trick Attack', you could expect from the repetitive multiplayer system in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. So, enough about that game, more onto what Aggressive Inline has to offer. Activities include 'Egg Hunt', where players must embark on a mission to track down items hidden throughout their chosen area. 'Twenty One', where players collect all of the playing cards in the level, the closest to twenty-one by the timer's end, wins. 'Animal Rescue', almost like a brave firefighter, players have the chance to bring helpless animals to safety, just the ideal thing to do, isn't it? Overall though, the games in Aggressive Inline's multiplayer offer a refreshing change from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.

As for problems with this game, I'm happy to say that there aren't many to be seen. However, the most obvious to stand out would be the unfortunate glitches with the gameplay, where players can sometimes find themselves in predicaments they usually wouldn't care to be in. But luckily enough, some of these errors can turn out for the best, I mean, the system may decide to throw you next to that missing juice box, you never know. But it is certainly unfortunate that such a polished game could have such obvious glitches, like this.

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She's a babe!
The graphics are one of the certain up-sides to this title, as they can even be compared to those in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, which was released several months before, but still impressive, nonetheless. Brightness is one of the elements that gives this game such a joyful feel and vibe to it, and this game presents plenty of brightness, being forced to squint at the levels is one thing, but being soothed and relaxed into the scenery is another, and Aggressive Inline does just that. The majority of the character models are closely identical to their real-life counterparts, which can always be a great sign for developers. Along with a small, usually unnoticed feature, which could have easily been excluded, is when skaters are travelling, their shirts, and singlets flail in the gentle breeze, which just goes to show what effort graphical artists went to, to assure a realistic approach was taken towards this game. But obviously, every rose has a thorn, as unfortunately, one moment you can be stunned by the glossy graphics, and the next you could be horrified by a pixelated mass, and at points, this game can do that. But as said, only at points, for the most time, this game is extremely polished, and as gorgeous as you could ever want. And the skater's stunts and moves are animated to near perfection, but unfortunate graphical glitches sour this, leaving us with nothing jaw-dropping.

Sound can be the hardest thing to perfect in a video game, and it's a well-known fact that developers go to all lengths to assure the best voice-actors, and sound effects are used to make their game an almost life-like experience. Examples of this are of course in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, when Activision hired Jenna Jameson to do the voice of their slutty female skater, ugh, see, talk about realism. But unfortunately, in-game sound effects aren't as fabulous this time around. Pedestrians on the street can either come off as they try too hard, or they're just very unpleasant, which isn't a feature any gamer would like whilst they're playing. This poor quality is slightly redeemed by crisp and sharp rollerblade soundbytes. The sound of metal clashing with marble ledge has never been so satisfying.

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A hand grind! What the...
Luckily, the overly poor sound in the video game is saved by it's elite soundtrack. Featuring bands like Hoobastank, POD, Sublime, Reel Big Fish, and a variety of others, it's easy to see why the soundtrack of this game is worthy of such praise. The licensed music in this game helps to lockdown a solid sound scoring for this game, as a game with such an elite soundtrack could not possibly be marked poorly for it's sound. The soundtrack was easily one of the greater efforts in this game, and praise is deserved for it.

In conclusion, I'd like to apologise. I'd like to apologise to Acclaim, and Z-Axis, for my doubt in your ability to produce another quality title after Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2. But hell, I admit I was wrong, I was very wrong. As Aggressive Inline has regained my respect for the two companies, and for extreme sports. I'll level with you, go out and rent this game, right now, if you are yet to experience it, at one stage, before Tony Hawk's Underground, I considered this to be a superior game to the highly-acclaimed skateboarding video game franchise. With a solid gameplay engine, and fresh faces filling up the roster, I'm glad to say that this is one of the greatest extreme sports video games ever made, and undisputedly the greatest rollerblading game to ever grace a gaming console.

One closing statement, it's apparent that sometimes the greater things in life can go unnoticed, and this video game has regained my confidence in that quote. Try it, and try it soon.

Review By: Brodie Gibbons

GRAPHICSPolished, but glitches can alter one's opinion - mine for the worse.
SOUNDAh, the beautiful sound of Hoobastank, great blading effects, also.
GAMEPLAYIt's refreshing, and it's a change, but the glitches alter one's view.
VALUEOnce you complete the career mode, there isn't much to replay again.
OVERALLI have nothing but praise for Aggressive Inline, as it's possibly one of the more underrated games made for this great console, of ours. But possibly those who rated it poorly saw the glitches from a worse angle than myself, but this is certainly an essential title if you're not a fan of Tony Hawk.

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