07 Feb, 2003

Aggressive Inline Review

GCN Review | A new extreme sports game skates onto the GameCube.
When people think of extreme sports games, they automatically think of one name. Tony Hawk. The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series has been the benchmark of extreme sports games since the first game hit the PlayStation late in the 20th century. There have been countless attempts to better Mr. Hawk, but very few have ever matched him. That is, until now.

Aggressive Inline is arguably the best extreme sports game this side of Tony Hawk. It has your standard array of modes, ranging from the excellent stat building career mode, to timed runs, and, of course, a stack of amusing two player diversions. There are several professional inline skaters are your disposal, such as Taïg Khris, Matt Salerno and Jaren Grob, as well as some skaters straight from the heads of those at Z-Axis. And, as you would expect, the game has some rather nice visuals, and a catchy punk rock soundtrack.

Graphically, Aggressive Inline, whilst it isn’t jaw dropping by any stretch of the imagination, is far from bad. In fact, the only real downer with the visuals are the vehicles that litter several levels. They are extremely blocky, with some of the worst textures I’ve ever seen on the GameCube. The levels themselves are bright and full of colour, just begging to be explored.

As has come to be expected by extreme sports games, the soundtrack is made up of predominately punk tunes, with the occasional rap number. The soundtrack isn’t really bad, but you will have to be a punk fan to get a kick out of it. However, the songs do tend to get a little irritating once listened to often.

The effects are perfectly acceptable, too. The grinding noise is particularly satisfying, as a bassy, screechy sound. The pedestrians even have voices of their own, often voicing their displeasure as you skate straight through them.

The levels themselves in Aggressive Inline are a highlight. The seven levels are big, full of innovation, bright colours, and, occasionally, other characters, which will give you an earful if you happen to run into them during your skating adventures. In your adventures, expect to grind dinosaurs, skate through a movie studio, cruise down roller coaster tracks, and even handplant a Ferris wheel. Everywhere you look in the levels, there’s some sort of half pipe, kicker or edge, so you have no excuse not to be constantly hitting tricks.

The bulk of Aggressive Inline is located in the games unique career mode. Unlike other extreme sports titles, where the objective is to race through a course, or score a whole lot of points during a timed run, career runs are not timed. The game bases itself around the juice meter. Performing tricks fills up the juice meter. Once it becomes full, all abilities are slightly improved, and special tricks can be performed. On the other end of the scale, when the juice meter becomes empty, your run is finished. This should rarely happen though, as it’s pretty easy to keep your juice meter going. In the levels, there are also juice containers which boost the capacity of your overall juice meter, and containers that just fill it up.

During these runs, you must complete numerous objectives that are informed of via the challenge screen in the menu. These range from a high score, to grinding a long rail, or grabbing a key to unlock areas in other levels. Some of these objectives are quite difficult, as the rail or key in question will be spinning around in the top corner of a room, seemingly impossible to grab. There are also a stack of objectives hidden in every level, some of which have to be found by talking to characters throughout the level. Completely finding everything in the seven levels will take quite a while, as there is no shortage of challenges.

Whenever you successfully perform tricks during the career mode, you gain experience points for the type of trick you did. Once enough experience is gained, you level up in that area. For example, a short grind will earn you, say, 30 points, towards the 10000 or whatever needed to level up. It sounds daunting, and the totals required skyrocket the higher the level you get. Leveling up can get addictive, and you will often find yourself desperately trying to level up to get that tiny bit of extra speed.

Apart from the career mode, there is also a two minute timed run option, where your objective is to gain an extremely high score. As you would expect, there is also a free run mode, where you may explore the levels at your leisure. The two player modes will provide some brief diversions, but the real bulk of the game is in the single player.

As is becoming the norm with extreme sports games these days, Aggressive Inline has a skate park editor, where you can create your own skate park. To be honest, this is one of the worst examples of the idea I’ve seen. You may choose from four fairly small environments. The pieces you’re able to use are hardly new or imaginative. You have your standard quarter pipes, kickers, bars, and so on, but little else beyond that. Don’t expect to be creating any fantastic designs in this skate park editor.

The control system takes a fair bit of getting used to, but once you’ve come to grips with it, it is more than acceptable, enabling you to pull off an impressive series of combinations with relative ease. A is used to jump, B, in conjunction with an analog stick direction, pulls of a stunt, Y grinds the nearest edge, X is used to talk to others/perform vaults (flipping over a small object in front, or grabbing onto a bar to swing around) or to skitch (grab onto the back of a vehicle for a ride), Z is used to cess slide (spins the character around 180 degrees to fakie, and also enables you to link tricks when used in conjunction with a manual), and L and R are used to spin in their respective directions.

However, at times, particularly in tight spaces, the controls can be an absolute nightmare. For starters, there really should be a way to back the character spin around. To turn around you must stop, then painstakingly hold the analog in the appropriate direction as you seemingly wait forever for the character to turn around. This can get really annoying at times. And, perhaps the worst of all (although quite possibly due to my technique), I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve accidentally gone into a manual. The game seems to respond to the slightly analog movement, which is absolutely infuriating. To make matters worse, many players will find that the directional pad is far too small to use in this game.

But, thankfully, the often frustrating controls do not spoil Aggressive Inline. The game still has an awful lot to offer. There is plenty of exploring to be done, tricks to be hit, and characters to be unlocked. The game won’t last you forever, but unlocking everything will take a damn long time, and you will have a ball doing it. If you are after an extreme sports game that doesn’t feature a skateboard, than this is one game that you should definitely check out. Reccomended.

Note: One point worthy of a mention is that saving a career takes up 57 memory card blocks. 57 memory card blocks!? Honestly, when you consider that standard memory cards only hold 59 blocks, this is absolutely ridiculous. Thankfully, the game has recently been dropped to $49.95 Australian wide, providing some relief. Hopefully, Europe has a similar discount.
The Score
Aggressive Inline is an extremely well made game, with the only major problem being the often frustrating controls. It is also extremely good value when you consider its price. If you’re into extreme sports games, check it out.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
  Acclaim Entertainment
Memory Blocks:
  57 blocks

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