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Evolution Skateboarding

First Look - you might feel you know it before you even play it, but then again you might be wrong

The first thing I did when I sidled up to the Evolution Skateboarding pod at Konami's stand was to try a manual. Up-down-triangle. Hrm. Nope. 'Bit of a limitation,' I thought. I proceeded to grind around like Tony Hawk for a bit, albeit disjointedly, admiring the animation and draw distance, and doing my utmost to put my finely honed skills to use. Sadly, nothing seemed to work, so I retreated to the safety of the menus and checked out the command list. Then it hit me - this skateboarding game isn't trying to be Tony Hawk.

New tricks

It might seem a little odd that I've attached quite a lot of significance to this, but in a genre which continues to mimic itself shamelessly, Konami's goal for a different control system and Rosh Rash style sensibilities is a breath of relatively fresh air. The graphics are the most obvious improvement - your skater is a much bulkier fellow, and he doesn't have to dress up like Darth Maul to keep your attention. Animation is incredibly smooth between moves and in particular when hitting the deck. Even the very latest Tony Hawk-alikes seem to enjoy vanishing your board and having you flop unrealistically in mid air, spitting blood into the ether and so on. A tumble in Evolution has you wincing, and it looks almost as painful as it does when the kids outside the front doors of the PlayStation Experience smack their knees on the half-pipe.

The scenery isn't too exciting, but there are plenty of rails to grind and pipes to, er, half, not to mention all sorts of droopy foliage and pedestrians wandering into your path. We got the impression from talking to Konami that you'll be bowling them over for extra kudos and linking their prostration into combos, but that isn't the extent of the aforementioned Road Rashing. Oh no. From what we've seen there will be head-to-head two-player battle modes to help make up for all the trash talking, and the single player mode will be quite non-linear, and more to do with the quality of your skating than your ability to perform impossible aerial manoeuvres. A hard man's Amped Snowboarding on a skateboard, perhaps.

Conclusion

Evolution has a lot on its side, although obviously there will be issues for those of us weaned onto Tony Hawk and its distinctive control system, but as with Amped the transition shouldn't be too difficult. With any luck, Evolution could turn out to be a surprise hit for Konami, and a surprise challenger to Tony's increasingly doubtful crown.

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Tom Bramwell avatar

Tom Bramwell

Contributor

Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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