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Game Profile
GENRE: Extreme Sports
PLAYERS:   1-2
July 29, 2002
Aggressive Inline

Aggressive Inline

Aggressive Inline

 Written by Ryan Smotherman  on August 26, 2002

Full Review: Watch this, I won't say Tony Hawk a single time throughout the entire review! Now who's Xtreme?!

After the release of you know what a few years ago (hah, didn't think I'd say it already did ya?), a new genre of games was essentially created. Unfortunately, just about every title released in this new genre, which is referred to as Extreme Sports, plays basically the same as the last. You know how, say, all football titles in essence play the same? Well, same thing here. Some of the titles have been damn good, some have been just plain awful, but all of them basically share the same characteristics. That is, let's take such and such extreme sport, gather up all the top names involved in that particular field, and then throw them in this crazy, over the top videogame title that lets you do things that are humanly impossible. Well, I'm not going to lie; Acclaim's Aggressive Inline follows this formula to a tee. However, it's also different in some very important ways, which is why I'd say it's the biggest revolution in the genre since? umm, that guy's (who's initials are T and H) first game.

As the title implies, Aggressive Inline has you not skateboarding, BMXing, or skiing, but instead, inline skating. I mean, it's obviously the next logical step, right? Probably not, but hey, it works damn well. From the get go things are going to appear very familiar to the extreme fans. When you fire up the game you're treated to some real-life footage of inline skaters doing what they do best. Then you hit start and the title screen pops up with all your favorite game modes. Including an in-depth Career Mode that let's you take one of the 12 skaters through some insane challenges throughout each level, there's the Free Skate that allows you to skate around with no limits, the Timed Run, which allows you to try to get the high score under a set amount of time, the Multiplayer mode (composed of 10 different games), which is where you and a friend will battle it out, via split-screen, and lastly, the famed park editor that allows to create your own sick level! Looking familiar?

Before I get into any details relating to the Career mode, first let me talk about the actual level design, as well as the trick system. The game's level designs are the main thing that sets AI apart from the rest. Why you ask? Cause the levels are absolutely huge. Far bigger than anything you've ever seen in an extreme title before. The thing is, that as big as each of the 8 stages are, there are always multiple locked sections in them that open up even more areas to get your trick on in.

As for the trick system, I'm going to have to contradict myself here; it's a little more simplified, but yet it's still quite complex. The simple part is that all your basic grabs and flip tricks are all done with the use of one button (X); holding it in and pushing in a direction does grabs, hitting it with a combination of directional movements does flip tricks, and there's also the ability to use combos and the like Then of course there's an insane number of different grinds, which is controlled with the Y button and directional presses, and two different types of manuals that are accomplished by hitting either Up then Down or Down then Up, naturally. The B button in the game is sort of the multifunctional device. If you hold it in as you're coming up to the top of a ramp, or a small waist level wall, you'll do a somersault over it (very cool), and it can also be used to grab a horizontal or vertical pole, where you'll swing Sonic the Hedgehog style in circles around it. And its last function is your standard bail, used for when things go wrong. Finally, you can do a revert move, also known as the cess-slide, by hitting the black button. Clearly, I have only gone over the basics of the games trick system, simply because it's one of the most in-depth you're going to find. Fans of extreme games who like to use every possible technique and combo links to expose each level design for what they're worth, will probably find Aggressive Inline a dream come true.

The Career mode in Aggressive Inline is really well done. First you'll pick your favorite extremer, and then you are given an optional tutorial mode that will take you through the basics. Though, if that's not your thing you can go straight on to the first level ? The Movie Lot. Like any other career mode, challenges are given to you that you must complete in order pass the level and open up the next. Usually, you're given a certain time limit to do these in, and when the time is out your run is over. Yet, since AI's levels are so massive in size, a time system just wouldn't do here. So they threw that out of the picture and seem to have thrown more challenges in. Once you start each level you are given the base challenges, and as you open up more sections of the level new challenges are added. Additionally, you can talk to locals, and they will give you a supplementary challenge (these are usually timed). Challenges themselves aren't too out of the norm; they range from getting a certain amount of points, doing a certain trick, or doing something to a certain landmark in the level.

Career mode is also complete with an RPG inspired level-up system that Z-Axis affectionately calls the Dynamic Attribute System. Basically, when you start out in the game your attributes, that being such things as your grinding, speed, and fakie (skating backwards) abilities, are relatively low, usually 0-2 out of a possible 10. As you play the game you will be given experience points the more you do a certain technique, which in turn means you'll start going up levels, and become a more prolific skater.

There's not really too many things to worry about while actually skating, it's a pretty free experience and there never seems to be a lot of stress on the player. But you do have a ?juice meter? (located at the top left of the screen) that slowly runs dry when you're not doing tricks, or if you make a mistake and crash to the ground. The good news is that it's very easy to keep the meter high. You can either bust out a few combos or you can gather juice boxes that are spread throughout each level. When your juice does run dry, though, the game is over and you can either load up your last save or give up a certain number of points to continue. And on the opposite side of the spectrum, if your juice meter maxes out you're ?on fire? so to speak, and your speed will increase for a set amount of time.

Graphically, there's really not too much to complain about. AI is a very solid looking game, and probably the best out of the 3 console versions available. The environments in the game are certainly the stars of the show here. Each of the 8 massive levels is complete with an impressive array of things to grind and trick off of, and they're very well integrated into the scenery. Level specific details are also abound, and they give each level their own distinct personality. For example, the Movie Lot level is complete with an indoor studio full of horror movie-esque details, and one of the later levels, the Museum, features huge dinosaur skeletons and models. Character models aren't especially impressive, but they get the job done. The game itself flies a long a solid 60fps, with no slowdown or draw-in, and the hi-res textures look fabulous. All in all, you won't be disappointed, but the Xbox is certainly capable of much, much more.

Audio in the game is your typical extreme sports stuff. Especially the music, which is a nice combination of punk and rock from some of today's top acts, including: Saliva (yeah, I think they have a song in just about every videogame nowadays), classic tunes from Sublime, Hoobastank, Limp Bizkit, The Offspring, and many more. Of course, the option is there to import your own tracks from the Xbox hard drive, so you can essentially hear anything you wish as you're tearing up the courses. You will also be tearing up those courses in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, if you have the capability of course.

Bottom Line
Z-Axis should be applauded for not revolutionizing the stale genre, but instead for refining it to an incredible level. Non-fans of the genre probably still won't enjoy it much, but hard-core extreme sports fans will eat this up, and ask for seconds. A must own for them indeed. It's got it all, an in-depth and addicting trick system, absolutely huge, and well designed levels, and a career mode that has a lot to offer. Basically, though, Aggressive Inline is really just more of the same, but it pulls it off as well as you could hope.

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