Professional skateboarder Andy Macdonald lends his name to this extreme sport title from DarkBlack, Ltd.. Six single-player (freeplay, lifestyle, high score, MTV Hunt, survival and stunt) and four head-to-head multiplayer modes (battle, time bomb, MTV Hunt, and deathmatch) allow diversity of gameplay in more than 35 levels using 60 basic flatland, grind, grab and flip tricks that can be combined to create thousands of combinations.
Complementing Macdonald are 13 other professional skateboarders: Colin McKay, Danny Way, Rick Howard, Brian Howard, Stevie Williams, Heidi Fitzgerald, Josh Kalis, Rob Dyrdek, Jen O'Brien, Salvador Barbier, Keith Hufnagel, Alan Petersen and Scott Johnston. Individual skateboarders, including fictional AI boarders, are rated in acceleration, maneuverability, balance and rotation skills. In keeping with the MTV theme, players can listen to a soundtrack featuring ten rock acts such as the Deftones, Cypress Hill and Flashpoint.
MTV Sports Skateboarding (featuring Andy Macdonald) is one of the two skating titles for PC appearing at the end of 2000 (the other one being Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2). This title comes from MTV, so you can expect it to have, if not authentic underground, at lest some popular semi-commercial music. Featured groups include: The Deftones, System of a Down, Cypress Hill, Pennywise, Snapcase, Goldfinger, No Use for a Name, Kottonmouth Kings, Flash Point, and the Pilfers. The most interesting thing is that all the licensed songs come with videos. The videos are low quality (128x64 AVI), but they are still fun to watch on TV screens and video-beams in skating parks. MTV also made some good use of the backgrounds sticking commercials of clothes and snowboard manufacturers all around. At times it made me feel I was playing one of those ridiculous advertising video games you get for free in markets. They managed finding 40 sponsors for it!
Apart from the emphasized Andy Macdonald, this title also features some other famous skaters (Colin McKay, Danny Way, Rick Howard, Brian Howard...) and several made-up skaters, about 30 of them all together. Some of them will be available from the start, but you'll have to "unlock" the rest. There are also several girls included (who don't look too effeminate on their four square centimeters, the only possible exception being 18-year-old Anna Graham), and several weird characters like Ted'E'Bear or the fifty-year-old Old Man Tom. Still, however different they might look, controlling all drivers is basically the same, with slight differences in speed and balance.
The graphics are all right concerning what most PSX to PC conversions look like. The textures are neither too good nor too bad. Drivers' models look relatively good, but they all look alike. And I certainly didn't like the way they were animated. It seemed as though they all have some frames missing. This can best be seen when they fall off their skates. At one moment your skater will be performing some elaborate trick, then go wrong, and the next frame you'll see him kissing the concrete. The same thing goes for hitting the walls, in which case the driver instantly turns 180 degrees. Each character has a well-rendered shadow, but you can only see it when skating on ground. As soon as you jump, the shadow will disappear.
The game features a great number of skaters, and an even larger number of tracks - 35 of them to be more precise, but most of them resemble each other. They should have made more open, freestyle levels in parks (the volcano one is a bit too strange). This way, most of the action takes place in various hangars, halls and industrial zones, which badly affects gameplay, regardless of the various ramp configurations.
As for the playability, controls are relatively standard for this type of the game: cursor keys and three keys meant for special actions. The jumps are fairly easy considering the fact you don't have to worry about landing; you just have to finish the stunt before you land. The possibility to make an insufficient number of turns and fall sideways onto the track is right out. I had the chance to play Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, which emphasizes that important factor. That did make "Tony" a lot harder to control, but it also gave you a far better feeling. Here, on the other hand, you can simply drive around holding your space bar and jumping up to ten meters high, worrying only about hitting the roof. I wouldn't say it's supposed to be that easy... And, what's more, the controls seem to be kind of slow. I first figured I had been doing something wrong, but then I realized the controls are simply unresponsive... AND you won't be able to key in multiple moves one after the other while you're in the air like you can in Tony Hawk's. You'll just have to wait until one move is finished in order to start with another (praying in the meantime the keyboard starts responding to what you press). If you get lucky, at times the rather clumsy collision detection system might save you. You can, for instance, fly horizontally over a great number of obstacles, hit the wall and remain unharmed, but to compensate that, your skater will sometimes fall with no apparent reason...
The game features several mods, and they are all based on performing stunts. You performance will determine how many points you get. Try not to fall too often because that may severely decrease your score as a repeated stunt always gets fewer points. It would be nice to have a downhill mod, just in order to break the monotony... The single-player mods are as follows:
Freeplay - A free ride with no time limits.
Lifestyle - probably the most interesting mod in the game. You initially pick a character and then drive through the levels. If you manage to achieve a certain score in due time, you get to drive the next park.
High Score -this one isn't much different from the first two, but your only goal is to beat your own record.
Survival - you get to perform tricks along side several computer-controlled players. Depending on your skill, you get extra time. He who runs out of time loses, and the last remaining player wins the match.
MTV Hunt - you have to collect 10 MTV logos. If you succeed, MTV will grant you access to the next park. And if you manage to collect all the pieces of a board, you'll get it from the sponsors. Each time you fall you lose one part of the board.
Stunt - Very linear tracks with one big-jump ramp... You have to perform insane jumps over chasms, parked cars and similar obstacles. Very similar to big-jump mod in most snowboarding games...
Multiplayer mods include a simple trick-battle mode, a time-bomb mode, a two-player MTV icon hunt, and a deathmatch mode where you have to knock your opponent off his board. The game supports up to TWO players on a single computer (split-screen), because the developers obviously never bothered to improve the PSX code. There is absolutely no support for cable, modem, LAN or Internet connection... If you do choose to play this game with a friend, you'll need a joystick because only one player can use the keyboard... Another nagging stupidity is only ONE savegame position. Oh, and the wheel you have to use to type your name in PSX style is not much better.
So, if you're that impatient that you simply cannot wait for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, you have no other choice than trying MTV sports: Skateboarding out. MTV Sports could prove to be worthy of your attention if you're looking to play a fluffy arcade game.
People who downloaded MTV Sports: Skateboarding have also downloaded:
Motocross Madness, MotoGP: Ultimate Racing Technology 3, MVP Baseball 2004, Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX, Micro Machines V3, Microsoft International Football 2000 (a.k.a. Microsoft International Soccer 2000), Motorhead, NASCAR Legends
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