Every time a great game is released, many developers instantly try to imitate the success. TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER has done so well over the past couple of years that those imitations are to be expected. Konami's newest Playstation 2 title, ESPN X GAMES SKATEBOARDING, is one of the poorest TONY HAWK clones yet.
ESPN X GAMES SKATEBOARDING is the newest skateboarding title to hit the market, and one of the first for the Playstation 2. The game features 8 licensed skaters (including Bob Burnquist) as well as the official X GAMES license. Players can go through a career mode (similar to Tony Hawk) or play in the X GAMES.
Imitation is said to be the most sincere form of flattery, but in the videogame world we need innovation and ESPN X GAMES SKATEBOARDING provides none of this. The control scheme is essentially lifted right off of Activision's skateboard game (albeit with some small improvements) and the gameplay remains true to the multiple objectives (points, five items to break, hidden item, etc.), but there are fewer objectives and levels than in TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER 2.
The game is uninspired. The level designs are nowhere near the ingenuity exhibited by the Neversoft team responsible for TONY HAWK. The game has some serious control/collision detection problems too (a big problem when you're grinding around a level). The trick selection is also sub-par.
The game does feature an X GAMES mode that isn't too bad, but I'm not a huge fan of the camera angle used for vert tricks. Konami has also added people to the career environments and while it adds life to the game, it's impossible to actually hit and knock someone over.
If Konami had been able to soup up the graphics in ESPN X GAMES SKATEBOARDING, we'd have a potential winner. Unfortunately, the game boasts one of the worst draw/fade in distance problems I've seen on the Playstation 2. I highly doubt you can see half a block in front of you (and for no reason there's no fog or anything) on some levels. Think of your favorite foggy N64 game and then drop the fog. That's the severity of the problem. Unfortunately, this takes away from the colorful world that is presented. Some of the later levels do look better, but those mistakes are unforgivable.
The music isn't too bad. It's the typical fare for a skateboarding game. I think that the TONY HAWK soundtracks were both better than this one though. All in all it's not too shabby, even though the announcer may get on your nerves.
Unfortunately, ESPN X GAMES SKATEBOARDING fails in the most basic concept, which would be to bring something new to the table. It's just another washed up TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER clone.
Only consider this one if you've played every other skateboard game on the market and can't get enough. Or better yet, wait for TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER 3.
Platform: Playstation 2
USBR Rating: Teen
Developer: Konami Osaka
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Fun Factor: C
Reviewer's Wild Card: D