With the release of the skateboarding masterpiece and instant classic that is Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, you have to wonder if there's room out there for another skateboarding game. Z-axis and Rockstar are wondering the same thing as their new game Thrasher: Skate and Destroy hits the market. I'm willing to bet that there are people out there who've played, played, and played Tony Hawk to death and yet out of that bunch there might be a small percentage who are still hungry for more. Or maybe there are gamers out there who seek out another kind of thrill. Like the thrill of buying and playing an "okay" game and then trying to find the fun in it. This is the kind of thrill Skate and Destroy provides.
It's shame that the best possible license for a skateboarding game, the Thrasher license, is totally wasted on this game. The goal of the one player mode is to get your skater on the cover of Thrasher by getting recognition and ripping up your local terrain. You get two minutes on each level to pull of as many tricks and combinations of tricks as possible but luckily before your run you also get to skate around as long as you like to familiarize yourself with the level. When your ready for the real thing, press select and the timer starts. Variety is important and will get you extra points. Unfortunately, there aren't any real-life skaters to go with the "real" locations, like a totally empty New York subway station where there happens to be a couple of ramps for your skating pleasure (or should I say displeasure in the case of this game). It should be noted, however, that a few of the locations in the game are some of the most popular skate spots on the planet, like the Brooklyn Banks for example. Big ups to Z-Axis for being the first game to include these legendary locales. The "trains" on this level look like cardboard boxes. The skaters are not very detailed or as smooth as the ones in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. They look a little more cartoony than what a skater should look like. They do however emit an urban fashion sense that is just not found anywhere else.
Okay, by now you are noticing that I'm a bit biased throughout this review. I know this is not acceptable. I know Tony Hawk and Thrasher are two different games. Perhaps, Z-axis was trying to create a simulation of sorts with this game, being that Pro Skater can easily be called an "arcadey" type of game. This is because Pro Skater is so easy to play right off-the-bat, the results being FUN times for the player. Right on the back of the case of Skate and Destroy is the phrase "Defy Urban Gravity". The game really lives up to that statement, with an insane super-floaty physics engine, which only defies the whole idea of this game being a sim. If you crash, which will be an all-to-common occurrence, you will propel through the air about 30 feet and land looking like a stuffed doll with limbs bending in overly unnatural ways. The control feels quite sluggish so the learning curve is way too steep for impatient people who don't have six hours to spend with a game. There are tons of tricks to learn but after the first half hour you just don't care anymore. The first time I did kickflip off a grind I realized I was way too happy for such a small accomplishment. If this is challenging gameplay I'll stick with Pro Skater which is a much more rewarding experience.
I must admit the presentation of the game gives it a "street" feel. Hip-hop fans and fans of good music alike will appreciate the inclusion of classic songs like Run DMC's "King of Rock" and "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang. True hip-hop aficionados will love the Gang Starr, Public Enemy, and EPMD tracks. The soundtrack is probably the only thing that will make you load up the game after the first two days. The videos of skaters busting out some sick grinds and ollies in NYC and other famous locations are nicely done.
In conclusion, I will say this: Skate and Destroy would have been the best skateboarding game out there if Tony Hawk didn't exist. It's not much but it's all I could muster up. Perhaps you might want to watch videos or listen to classic jams at the same time or you really need another skateboarding game to satisfy your midnight lust for 540's and nose-grinds. Then go ahead and give Thrasher a shot. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
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