Evolution Skateboarding REVIEW

Evolution Skateboarding Review (PS2)

In the never-ending battle for the precious $50 (plus tax) of the Sports Gamer, over the past few years we’ve seen the gaming world flooded with multiple titles from each sport. Companies, both big and small, throw their hats into the ring to take on the reigning champ. Madden vs. Sega. Live vs. Sega vs. Drive. High Heat vs. ASB vs. Triple Pl….errr…nevermind. Anyway, with little doubt that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is the current king of the skateboarding titles, the competition is lining up to try to knock Tony off his board. Konami is stepping up to the plate with the ESPN license-less sequel to ESPN X Games Skateboarding called Evolution Skateboarding. Let’s get ready to rumble!

Let me start this review off with a confession. I have to be an honest and fair reviewer and admit that I am a fan of the Tony Hawk Series. Fanboy? No. But, a fan. That being said, I thought that it was only fair to not pick up the new Tony Hawk title till after I finished taking a look at Evolution Skateboarding. A level playing field…or ramp…or something. Fair enough?

The folks at Konami have made a great attempt at skateboarding with Evolution Skateboarding. They tried to mix what has become the standards of boarding titles with some new twists to make a game that would have some cross segmented appeal. You have your basic pick your skater from 8 lesser known pros, skate from level to level pulling off trick combos, earning point goals, crushing crates, impressing photographers or things of that sort. The standard fair in most skate titles. The levels themselves are pretty basic with nothing groundbreaking or stellar. With Konami’s experience in adventure and action titles, I had hoped that some more time would have been spent in level design.

The new features include the all new Boss Skate. This very Konami-esque addition pits your skater against various “bosses” in an action oriented battle. While this is an interesting idea that I think Konami should pursue if they continue making skate titles, the execution in Evolution Skateboarding is really quite simple. Most bosses are beat simply by a well placed grind trick or two. However, they do get points for potential.

My two biggest complaints about Evolution Skateboarding land squarely in the Gameplay category; this game is sluggish at best and the controls leave a lot to be desired. Very often this game looks like it is moving at half speed, and you never get that visual feeling of speed that you get from other titles. I found myself half-yelling to coaks my skater along during gameplay. The game just feels slow.

The controls, while intuitive, are not nearly as user-friendly as other skate titles. I don’t know if Konami used different controls to set themselves apart, but if it works, don’t mess with it. The manual to grind or air combos are difficult and the lip tricks are either way too easy or way too difficult. Even with the pseudo-complexity of the average skateboarding controls, most seem effortless compared to the finger madness necessary to pull off substantial tricks in Evolution.

Visually, I would put Evolution Skateboarding up against any other title in its’ genre. The character models are solid and nicely done. The levels are well rendered and give a pretty nice feel for depth and scale. The animations, while not perfect, look great on most tricks. Some of the animations are a little over the top, but that is necessary in when you are pulling off combos of this magnitude.

The sound of the game was a mixed bag. Again, nothing new or revolutionary, but the sounds of the game were decent. Konami markets the game as featuring Dolby Pro Logic II support, but you wouldn't know if they didn’t tell you. The soundtrack was a nice surprise. Unlike other skating titles, Evolution Skateboarding uses some great lesser known bands including Agent Orange, Unwritten Law, and Peanut Butter Wolf to spice up a more underground feeling set of tracks.

Konami stepped forward when they built this sequel. If they decide to stay in the Extreme Sports genre they may someday be a contender. But, for now, they still have some work to do. All in all, Evolution Skateboarding is not a bad title. However, in the battle for the infamous “Gamer $50”, I can’t recommend this game for purchase. It’s definitely worth playing, but with so many other titles out there, you owe it to yourself to shop around.

Evolution Skateboarding Score
out of 10