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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Acclaim

 

Developer

Z-Axis

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

June 2002

 

 

- Big levels with lots of interaction and challenging objectives

- Solid play controls allow for huge trick runs and even bigger scores

- Great experience building system

 

 

- Some bugs, including falling into thin air for no reason and falling into locked areas

- Soundtrack loops a little too much

 

 

Review: Aggressive Inline (Gamecube)

Review: Aggressive Inline (XBox)

 

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Aggressive Inline

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

Inline skating hasn’t received the same kind of media attention that other “extreme” sports like skateboarding and BMX have, but Aggressive Inline certainly brings the sport to the forefront of extreme games on the PlayStation 2. The game’s developer, Z-Axis, has been improving with each successive extreme title that they’ve brought to the table. Thrasher: Skate and Destroy attracted a lot of skateboarding fans with its more realistic approach to skating, versus the pseudo-arcade style of the Tony Hawk series. Now, Aggressive Inline (AI) tries to one-up Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 as the best “X-game” on the PS2… and in many ways, it succeeds.

 

aggressive-inline-ps2-1.jpg (60511 bytes)          aggressive-inline-ps2-2.jpg (55665 bytes)

 

Gamers who have played Dave Mirra 2 probably remember the huge levels available. In fact, it was easy to get lost the first few times through each stage and some memorization was necessary to finish certain level objectives in the set time frame. Z-Axis has trimmed a bit off of the level size in AI, to the point where they’re maneuverable but still big. The good news is that there’s a lot of environmental interaction, which affects AI’s gameplay.

 

Certain objectives must be fulfilled by talking to people or interacting with objects. Other objectives appear after triggering certain events. For example, on the first level, once a player grinds the edge of a particular cliff, a large boulder becomes dislodged and is held up by two chains. Once players grind both chains, the boulder crashes down, changing the level layout. Tony Hawk 3 did this kind of thing, but not to the extent that AI demonstrates. What’s even better is that Z-Axis has taken away the clock, so that players are free to try challenges as many times as they want or until the “juice” meter runs out. Since each level has dozens of power-ups to keep the meter full, and since players can also keep the meter full by pulling off tricks, it’s possible to literally spend hours on one stage.

 

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One other big difference in AI’s gameplay is the addition of experience levels for certain attributes, like speed, grinds, jumping, and manuals. Experience points are gained for each trick or maneuver that a player successfully pulls off. Once enough experience is earned, attributes level up, improving the player’s abilities overall. Since there’s no clock to rush players through the game’s levels, players can also work to improve their stats, allowing them to jump higher, maintain 

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better balance during grinds and stalls, and skate and rotate faster. It’s a simple, yet effective way to add replay value to the game. Combine this with the numerous challenges to complete and hidden items to find, and AI becomes a game that players will go back to time and again.

 

aggressive-inline-ps2-3.jpg (46358 bytes)          aggressive-inline-ps2-4.jpg (48757 bytes)

 

Tony Hawk players will feel right at home with AI’s controls. Grabs and flips are easily executed by entering certain D-Pad commands and pressing the square button. Grinds are done using the triangle button, and ollies are done by pressing X. Like Tony Hawk 3, Aggressive Inline has a revert of its own, called a “Cess Slide”. By pressing R2 when landing a trick in a pipe or bowl setup, it’s possible to link these tricks with manuals and standard tricks to nail trick scores with huge multipliers to the tune of millions of points per trick set. Linking tricks becomes easier as players level up their attributes, and it also becomes important. Certain challenges require players to score a certain amount of points in a certain time frame (such as 250,000 points in 2 minutes). Each skater has his (or her) own special tricks, but unlike Tony Hawk 3, players must find special trick icons in order to unlock the specials.

 

AI’s visuals certainly get the job done. Some levels have nice texturing and lighting effects. Others have some very nice reflections on puddles of water or marble flooring. There are weather effects, including snow and lightning-laced thunderstorms. The skaters themselves animate smoothly, whether in trick routines or whether they’re face-planting.

 

There are a few glitches which can take place, such as skaters endlessly falling through the air or falling into locked areas without the possibility of exit. The aforementioned “falling through the air” bug also victimized Dave Mirra 2, which shows that Z-Axis still has a little bit of work to do in the QA department; however, AI recognizes the bug and resets players back to the level they were on after a short while.

 

As with many other extreme sports releases, AI boasts a soundtrack powered by licensed musical acts. Rock and rap seem to be the focuses here, with bands such as Hoobastank, P.O.D., Reel Big Fish, Black Sheep, and Pharcyde. The soundtrack is actually very good, but the playlist is a bit too short. Extended play sessions with AI will leave some players cursing after hearing the same songs over and over (and over and over) again. Aside from the soundtrack, the game’s speech stands out as one of its strong points. People on each level interact with you, whether it’s for giving out challenges or to swear at you for nearly running them down. Of particular note is a clown who talks some serious trash on the Boardwalk stage – it’s some funny stuff, no doubt. The other sound effects are pretty standard, although the grind effects tend to be inconsistent.

 

Aggressive Inline is Z-Axis’ coming of age title. The game isn’t perfect, but it does a lot of things well and is at least as much fun to play as Tony Hawk 3, if not more so. The game’s challenges are all possible with a little bit of work, and there’s a lot of hidden stuff to find. Add the leveling-up feature, the park editor, and several hidden characters and feaures, and Aggressive Inline stands out as a pleasant surprise and a solid alternative for Tony Hawk fans.

 

- Peter J. Skerritt, Jr.

(July 17, 2002)

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