Not every sports star can take a year off and still perform at a high level.
The dust has settled and the apparent critical conclusion is that Tony Hawk: Ride is a bad game. After playing it a lot and looking at it months removed from the harsh post-launch criticism, it still isn't a very good game. However, Tony Hawk: Ride on Wii is an interesting take on the extreme sports genre, and the skateboard peripheral has a lot of future potential. Unfortunately, this first attempt isn't too swift.
There are three different difficulty settings that change how your character controls, but I was only able to reach any success with the easiest difficulty level that leads you on a pre-determined branching path. The other two put you in full control of your character, and it quickly becomes difficult to keep him straight or turn with any kind of consistency. If you are an actual skateboarding pro you might be able to use those controls, but you'd be better off just actually skateboarding if that's the case.
The game's main problems stem from the lack of precision of the skateboard controller. The tricks can be boiled down to three standard types that are familiar to veterans of the series: grabs, flips, and grinds. Flips are the focal point of Ride, as you pop up on the front or back of the controller and then tilt or turn the board from side-to-side. The game and peripheral simulate the act of doing this well, but it is extremely difficult to differentiate between each trick.
There are challenges in the game that require you to perform a specific trick, usually broken down as a turn or tilt. These are frustrating since you think you're doing one action, but it is read as another. The lack of an in-game trick list is even more maddening; there could be a challenge that requires you to do a Pop Shove-It, yet there is no in-game clue as to how to perform it.
Grabs are even less responsive than flips, as you have to hold your hand over one of the four sensors on each side of the board to little success. I am a little over six feet tall, and I had an exorbitant amount of trouble trying to perform grabs this way. From seeing other people play it, it seems to register better when you're shorter. I ended up just holding my foot over a sensor to perform grabs, which worked well.
Ride is split up into two different sections: street and vert. Street makes up the majority of the game, and is comprised of race-like levels as well as sandbox areas. This is easily the best part of Ride, as the levels are suitably crazy and interesting, especially as you progress later into the game. Vert is a drag, as every instance of it is the same, and the controls are changed in a jarring manner. You basically need to learn a different style of control for it that requires you to turn the board so that it is positioned parallel to your television, which and switches around some of the commands.
The Wii version of Tony Hawk: Ride has an exclusive Mii mode in which you can play the game as your Mii or pro skater Miis. This is truly a throwaway mode, as it remains under lock and key until you complete levels in the main mode, and the only difference in the levels is that you play as a Mii. There is also a multiplayer mode that can be played with eight people alternating. It's amusing, but not for too long.
Tony Hawk: Ride has a myriad of problems ranging from control issues to design issues, but the game is still fun at times, particularly when it doesn't require you to perform specific tricks. You might not know what you're doing, but you can have a great time zipping around the imaginative levels popping the board in the air and spinning it every which way. Regardless, this is a poor return for the Tony Hawk franchise, and the only bright side to this game is that they might make a better version in the future.