Despite this fuzziness, there are splinters of promise lodged deep within the rancid flesh of Ride's gameplay. The main campaign mode uses a Rockband-style unlock system, wherein players must earn a certain number of points in various events before a new area will open up. These "sessions" are split up into Speed, Trick and Challenge categories. The first of these gameplay types will either be highly irritating or a bit redundant depending on what difficulty you're using (time trials tend to lose their thrill factor if you're not actually steering), but the second set can be quite diverting. Here you're generally just aiming to earn as high a score as possible within a set time limit, and for a short interval this can be quite entertaining. You stand on your £100 toy and wiggle about like a young Forrest Gump. "Look Mah!" you'll cry, your voice cracking with childlike delight. "Ah'm skatin'! Ah'm skatin!"
The problem is, you're not. If you were standing on a real, moving skateboard, centrifugal forces would help you to keep your balance; as you're actually just tooling about in your living room, Old Mother Physics refuses to lend a helping hand, and you'll frequently find yourself stepping off the deck. More problematically, your swivelling tricks will often leave you at an odd angle to your TV; in real-world skating, you'd simply steer yourself back on course, but here you need to either get off the peripheral and re-align it, or else perform another trick just to twist yourself back into position - and depending on your in-game surroundings, this might cause you to wipe out... in a display of embarrassingly last-gen animation. It may sound strange, but accidents (and painful injuries) are a big part of skater culture. EA's Skate games have turned wipe-outs into an art form, but here even the failures fail.
As annoying as these issues are, the worst of Ride's flaws is only revealed once you enter a Challenge session. Here the game asks you to perform a number of specific tasks or tricks in quick succession, usually using a notable piece of scenery: you might have to pull off a manual for 50 yards, do a flick-trick over a statue, and then grind over a series of railings, hopping between each one. It's the kind of assignment we've always seen in skater games, but here you'll learn to dread them. Why? Because it's hugely tricky to be exact with your actions. It's easy to score points while you're gimping about on a free-form half-pipe competition, and if you like you can convince yourself that you intended to do that 540 Degree Reverse Fish-Spaz, or whatever the trick is called, but as soon as the game asks you for something in particular, the illusion shatters. I'm not sure whether the fault lies with the software or with the peripheral, but either way the game will constantly mistake flick and tilt tricks... and heaven help you if you're asked to wake up one of the grab sensors.
There are lots of other things to complain about with Tony Hawk: Ride - the basic graphics, the cheesy greenscreen videos, the way models frequently clip, and the strange "warping" that occurs when you leave it a bit late to perform a jump. Then there's the fact that there's no consistency about when you can and can't use the board to navigate menus; you'll have to keep a controller close by, just to be sure. I could also point to the scrawny multiplayer mode, an offering so bare-bones that it could cameo in an episode of He-Man, or to the brazenly in-your-face in-game advertising (even some of the trophies and achievements have brands in their titles). But to be honest, these complaints are almost beside the point. This is an expensive peripheral-based game where the expensive peripheral doesn't work; the other cock-ups are just extra nails in the coffin.
The sad thing is that every once in a while you get a brief sense of what this game could have been. The trick-based gameplay shows occasional flashes of potential, and the board peripheral could have worked. Maybe somewhere in a parallel universe there's a reality where Robomodo pulled it off; unfortunately, we're stuck here - and in this world Tony Hawk: Ride falls on its arse, big time.