Aggressive Inline

Quick Take - Acclaimed skater hits Xbox, but what's new?

Aggressive Inline impressed us by coupling its shamefaced mimicry of Tony Hawk with a laundry list of changes we'd hoped to find in the great Birdman's fourth iteration due out later this year. Although it suffered from a few control issues here and there, and didn't push the envelope graphically, it did introduce a progressive, experience points-based reward structure. It also packed each of its enormous levels with fiendish tasks, not to mention eye-catching and occasionally dynamic design.

Disappointing

02b

Don't get shirty with me

The Xbox version should have sealed the Birdman's casket, but having spent the last couple of days disappointedly sifting through it, the only change of note is a zoo level, but the lack of animals is a bit confusing... There is an option for custom soundtracks, but it's somewhat inobvious, only available from the in-game options menu and not the main menus. As for graphical changes and other optimisations: forget it. This is as straight a port of the PS2 version as you could possibly imagine. The only other changes evident are an updated loading screen showing the Xbox controller map, and references to the right buttons instead of X, circle, square, triangle etc.

Sadly, neither the bulky Xbox controller nor the import-worthy Controller S can handle Aggressive Inline as well as the Dual Shock II. It's mainly a case of the d-pad being borderline unusable, and the positioning and styling of the black and white buttons in particular makes them almost inaccessible for those crucial cess slides (or reverts, as Hawkers will know 'em).

Fortunately, the bulk of the game - which we really liked - remains completely intact. Those of you who picked Microsoft's box over Sony's brick will almost certainly find value in this, and it still pips the Xbox conversion of Tony Hawk 3 to the winners' podium in this reviewer's humble opinion. Tony Hawk has certainly been around a long time, but it's infinitely more enjoyable to skate around Aggressive Inline at breakneck speeds and always have that sensation of getting somewhere. The more you skate and the more previously pointless trick tallies you tot up, the more XP the game will hand you and the better your character will get. And the characters, some real, some not, will all become increasingly easy to handle at the most basic levels - allowing you to concentrate on improving their high-end skills above all else.

Conclusion

Z-Axis delivered a great skating game with Aggressive Inline, and the Xbox version is no less impressive, almost on a par with Activision's Xbox ports. However, the lack of graphical improvements and the cumbersome custom soundtrack menu system irritated me to a certain extent, but if you have even a passing interest in skaters, you simply must own this, whatever your preferred platform.

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