Overview

When first announced, I didn’t have high expectations for Aggressive Inline. There was little to suggest that this title could pose serious challenge to the excellent Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, which have been regarded as the de-facto standard in extreme sports titles. But as soon as I began playing the game, it’s clear that developers Z-Axis have managed to create something special here.

Preferring not to go into the already crowded ’boards’ titles, Z-Axis decided to focus on inline skating. Aggressive Inline boasts 10 top pro skaters, featuring founding father Chris Edwards, Taig Khris, Frankie Morales, Shane Yost, Eito Yasatoko, Jaren Grob, Matt Lindenmuth, Matt Salerno, and Sam Fogerty. These may not sound like household names to you, but believe me that they are every bit as good as those skaters in THPS series.

Gameplay

First, let’s get one thing straight. This is not THPS with inline skates instead of skateboards. Inline skates, while not as popular as its skateboarding brethren, is much faster and rely more on grinds and rails as opposed to THPS’ halfpipes. This opens up more moves and tricks like Skitching, Vaulting and Pole Grabbing, which are very cool to execute and watch.

The huge levels mean that there are more things to do per level. While THPS gives only a few objectives to complete, here in Aggressive Inline, there are between 20 to 30 objectives. While this may sound like too much for some gamers, Z-Axis has expertly designed the levels to give you the opportunity to pull of hundreds of giant combos and tricks. Interactive scenery and NPC-assigned objectives give a much longer running time for the games. Be creative and you may be pleasantly surprised as to what you can pull off in the game.

You may think that you won’t have the time to complete all the required objectives. Well, fear not because in Aggressive Inline, there are not time limits, per se. No longer are you restricted to the clock, your time is measured by your trick meter. Want more time to explore the area? Just pull off a few tricks and combos and you’ll get an extension of sorts to do what you want. This complete freedom to complete the levels give you a much needed room to explore your creativity and to take in the whole experience.

Even the upgrade system is unique. If in THPS you earn money to upgrade your stats, Aggressive Inline takes a more realistic approach by giving you experience points for tricks and combos. Do a few grinds, and you’re grind stats will improve. The same goes for all the skills in the character stats. Pull off huge trick combo, and you’ll rake up major experience points which can be used to improve your stats. Others may complain that this system is slower that THPS, but for me it’s more realistic.

Another nice touch is the sound. Featuring impressive bands such as P.O.D, Limp Bizkit, Hoobastank, Saliva, and Sublime, the tunes does their job in complementing the action in the game. You can choose which songs you want to listen to via a playlist, which is a nice touch. Sound effects and voice acting is also professionally done, albeit hilarious at time.

Graphics

The graphics are, in short, is excellent. After the jaw-dropping introduction cinema featuring all the top inline skaters in the game, we get a very nice and polished menu system, that is looks very professional and hip. The character models look good, and coupled with smooth animation rivals that of the THPS series. And that’s not even the best thing about the graphics.

The show-stealer here must be the environment. Aggressive Inline not only has huge levels, but they are also bustling with activities. Loads of people roam the levels, apparently going through their own business. However, there are also NPCs (non-playing characters) who can assign tasks and objectives for you to do if you talk to them. Accomplishing one objective may open up new areas for you to explore, thus enhancing the title and keeping it fresh.

Fun Factor

From what I’ve told you so far, you can easily tell that the game is fun. The huge levels and numerous challenges would have you playing the game for hours. If you have the time, playing the Career Mode to complete all levels and objectives could boost the gametime to the region of 40+ hours. There are also tons of secret characters to unlock, a cool two-player mode for those needing some competition and a powerful Park Editor for those wanting to create their own challenges.

Overall

Make no mistake, this one’s a real gem. With its great graphics, huge levels and tons of replay value, Aggressive Inline ranks among the top of the extreme sports genre, right alongside SSX and THPS3. Definitely recommended for fans of the genre.

Former owner and editor in chief of Darkstation.com