E3: Tony Hawk: Ride

Skater toy.

Activision has seen the future, and it's plastic. Ride, this year's Tony Hawk reboot, ditches traditional controller inputs in favour of a full-size mock skateboard, and if it sells, in the next few years you can probably expect the piles of fake guitars and drum-kits in your living room to be joined with fake sporting goods, the odd bit of fake weaponry, and possibly even fake kitchen equipment, if the publisher ever decides to follow Taito into Cooking Mama territory.

For every game, then, a bundle; for every franchise, a peripheral - when the time comes, you'll likely be able to store all this new clutter in a bespoke Activision wardrobe, which will double as a fake New York skyscraper for you to run up the side of when playing any future Prototype sequels.

In the case of Hawk, the skateboard's more than simply a cash-in on the company's surprisingly potent ability to ship bulky add-ons around the world in massive quantities. It's also a reaction to the success of EA's Skate, which emerged in 2007 to revitalise a genre that had gone slightly stale on Activision's watch. Tony Hawk games were never bad, but the yearly grind - accidental pun - was starting to show, and when EA Black Box came along with the devilishly effective Flickit system, which made brilliant use of analogue control sticks to simulate moving the skateboard around, it was time for Team Hawk to rethink a few of its assumptions about how to make a convincing skateboard game.

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It's game number 10, by my wonky counting, and Hawk himself is ageing with grace, a slight greying of the temples giving him the air of a youthful senator.

The answer, then, is with a convincing skateboard. The peripheral's pretty decent, too, from the distant glimpse we've got of it so far. Made of sturdy plastic, it's full-size, more or less, with the absence of wheels making it look a little like a hoverboard (pro tip: don't try and use it near water). You manipulate the game much as expected, by placing the board flat on the ground, tilting to steer, spinning to turn, and flipping it up on one end for jumps. Far more than a flattened version of the Wii Remote (which nonetheless apparently formed the basis for the first prototypes) a range of infrared sensors mounted around the edge of the board can register hand placement, meaning you can pull off all kinds of grabs and tucks - or is that snowboarding? I forget - and even push yourself forward by skimming your foot along the floor.

Granted, from the brief display we witnessed, it didn't seem that the board was tremendously accurate at registering the inputs correctly at the moment, but that may be down to a slight delay in the image being projected on the screen behind the person demoing the game, early code, or even a glitchy prototype.

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