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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Extreme Sports

 

Publisher

Acclaim

 

Developer

Z-Axis

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

July 2002

 

 

- Huge environments just get bigger
- Tons of replayability
- Solid roster of tricks and combos
- Good fun
- RPG element that makes sense
- High-res and colorful graphics
- Some good two-player fun

 

 

- Cat-like reflexes not included
- Some control issues
- Soundtrack a little too “extreme”
- No create-a-skater option
- Can be quite a learning curve

 

 

Review: Aggressive Inline (Playstation 2)

Review: Aggressive Inline (Gamecube)

Review: Tony Hawk's Proving Ground (360)

 

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Aggressive Inline

Score: 9.5 /10

 

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Aggressive Inline (AI) does practically everything right. It has some of the biggest levels ever seen in an extreme sports game, a huge assortment of moves, replayability out the wazoo, a definite attitude and tons of fun for everyone – much like Mr. Potatohead in that respect. So why doesn’t it score a perfect 10? I’ll save that for later.

AI is most comparable to the Tony Hawk series: There are huge environments to explore on wheel-based self-locomotion and a list of objectives to fulfill. That’s where the similarities end.

The differences make AI far more than a Tony Hawk clone. For one, AI has an RPG element to it. Instead of just being awarded points for successful trick strings and combos, your on-screen character acquires experience points to whatever skill is

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used. For example, grinding everything with an edge increases your grinding ability (essentially your balance). The mantra, “Practice, practice, practice” has never been so applicable and it feels more natural than trading in points to increase your skills. (Also more natural is the way some objectives are handed out – by talking to pedestrians.) Another difference is the lack of clock. Having no time

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limit certainly takes some of the pressure off but it in no way inhibits enjoyment. Besides which, some levels are so massive you’d be hard-pressed to make it from one side to the other under any kind of time limit. Instead of the clock, your continuation is tied to an adrenaline or "juice" meter, which drains slowly and is replenished by performing (successful) tricks. And since you should be performing tricks all the way along it’s not likely you’ll ever get booted from a level for a drained meter. (On top of that, you can actually increase the meter’s capacity – it just means it takes a little longer to be powered-up, granting access to super-moves.) Performing the tricks has never been so equally difficult and easy at the same time.

I say the control is easy because those familiar with the extreme sports genre should be right at home. The tutorial mode does its job by taking you step by step through all the basics. Grinding, grabs, manuals, the cess move, flips, skitching, vaults, grabbing and flipping around poles… the list goes on. And all these moves can be strung together for huge point totals. Plus, there’s a handy button to help you land potentially disastrous miscalculations. However, those just setting out will probably have a tough go of it. My advice, keep plugging away at it. The rewards are worth it.

Most of the difficulty arises from the speed and dense environments. The skaters all move at a faster-than-life speed and some gamers will be turned off by the twitch-like reflexes required to perform some tricks. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy smoothly animated games, and AI meets the bill but it moves so smooth and fast even if you possess the reflexes it’s not likely you’ll be able to maintain the frenetic pace (and concentration) to keep up with the copious ramps, rails and inclines (and other objects) packed into each level. While some will glide around racking up huge combo scores, the best I ever did was just over 50,000 – any more than that I would crack under the pressure and would get smucked by a car or land on my head thereby disintegrating my point total.

 

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The huge environments (with many interactive elements that make each level bigger and ever-changing) benefit greatly from the current hardware capabilities. There is always much going on in each level but there’s never any screen stutter. Everything about AI oozes a certain level of cartoon sensibility and it only compliments the action. The oscillating boobs of Trixie are a little distracting, but overall the character models are well done and adhere to the cartoon (i.e. unrealistic) sensibility. The Xbox version probably has the best looking graphics of the three platforms (AI is also available for PS2 and GameCube), with the added bonus of an extra level. The extra level is just as packed as the other levels – it doesn’t feel tacked. And there is the option to build your own levels for the truly enterprising individual.

Depending on your tastes in music, you may love or hate the music – I walked the middle ground. While it certainly lends itself to the “extreme” motif, being more a talk radio guy, I turned the volume down to a very subtle background level. At the default volume it’s too loud and it managed to give me a headache. Music is accessible from the hard drive and I highly recommend using your own tunes – especially if you’re not as “hip” as the rest of the gaming world. However, the rest of the audio is great – whether it be ghosts, the cursing of pedestrians, or the constant sound of scraping skin on rough pavement (for me at any rate).

Overall, Aggressive Inline is a good investment. It has tons of replayability and lots of fun, even if it might take a while to grasp the control and get used to the speed issue. Definitely recommended.

- Omni
(September 7, 2002)

 

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