SYSTEM
PSX

PRICE
$44.99

DEVELOPER
Z-Axis

PUBLISHER
Rockstar

RELEASE
11/99

Thrasher: Skate And Destroy Review

By: John Doe


Thrasher: Skate and Destroy is certainly a whole lot tougher than it's other PSX brethren, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Thrasher takes the route of skateboarding simulation, which you will notice immediately that this isn't the arcade style gameplay of Hawk's game. Spend some time with this title and you'll come away quite satisfied with what you've accomplished. Perfect for those looking for the next challenge.


Highs:
Lows:

When I spoke to Thrasher game designer Alan Blaine (Z-Axis) at E3, it was obvious he was going for realism. The environments in Skate and Destroy were based on real world locations, the tricks were based in reality and the skating physics were true to life. Just as it did back in May, Thrasher takes some time to get used to, especially after being babied through Tony Hawk and his "every wall has a curve to it" style of gameplay. Don't let that stop you though, because as different as this game is, there is a lot to enjoy here.

Instead of starting the game as a pro skater, you must actually work your way up the ranks and earn your success. You'll begin in an industrial area and if you are good enough, skate your way through New York, L.A, San Francisco and even head off to some international competitions. You are allowed to practice each level for as long as you desire in your quest to thrash the real environments. Once you feel you are ready, then you start the timer and have two minutes to perform your best tricks. Earn enough points and you'll head to the next level, but beware; stay in some street levels over the time limit and you might get busted by the fuzz or get your head cracked open by some thugs if you don't hightail it to the exit. If you do get caught, you'll have to replay that level. You'll have to earn 5000 points to move out of the first area and 25,000 points if you want to win the game in the last level. Consequently, as you head up the ladder of success you'll have to decide whether you want to endorse certain products or stay free from the capitalistic pigs.

Once you get on your board the first thing you'll notice is that this is a lot harder than it looks, especially if you are used to THPS. Remember though, that the idea behind Thrasher is realism. If you've ever watched boarding on television or skate yourself, you know that a good boarder is always setting up his next trick while in the middle of performing one. Skating around the park will allow you blueprint your routine, so that you can link moves smoothly, making your presentation more effective. If you go off half-cocked, you won't get very far, so take all of the time you need to familiarize yourself with the current surroundings. Thrasher awards big points for combo tricks which is why formulating a plan is so important. As well, any time you can catch some big air, go for it; you'll reap some nice pointage if you land it.

One aspect of Thrasher that takes some getting used to is the overall slow feel of the game. You'll never reach those breakneck speeds that you did in THPS. In addition to the laid back pace, you'll find some moves feel a little tardy. There is a certain lagtime between releasing the ollie button and the actual ollie itself that takes some adjustment time. The trick configuration is also tricky to get the hang of and will require a lot of practice before you are comfortable. Again, this isn't a bad thing. Be patient because there are a boatload of real tricks to discover.

The environments in Thrasher look good, are big enough and feature tons of real world elements to thrash on like park benches, walls, curbs, stairs, ramps and even the odd vehicle. Too bad I'm unfamiliar with the actual locations that the levels are based on; it would be a kick to be playing this game knowing that the area is just down the street.

One aspect that should receive special mention is the animations of the bails. Man, those look horrifyingly painful. The game switches to slow-mo mode when you wipe out, letting you see the twisted wreckage a few frames at a time. And be sure to catch the bail videos once the reach the end of the game. Man, I can't believe people are crazy enough to actually get on those 4 wheel nutcrackers and do that! My groin hurts just watching it. While we are at it, how about a "Bravo" to the poor S.O.B. that had to do the motion captured bails for the game; may he rest in peace.

Thrasher's soundtrack is great. I'm not really into hip-hop but I like what Thrasher is cookin' in the audio department. I'm so out of it that I only know one song and the only reason I know it is because the old lady in the Wedding Singer sang it. I'm so white... The sound effects are excellent as well.

If you liked Tony and are looking for the next thrill, look no further than Thrasher (mind you, what other choices do you have at the moment?). The gameplay and focus are completely different than THPS and that's a good thing. I can't stress enough that this game requires a lot of patience. Casual gamers will enjoy Tony for his ease of use, but real skateboarders will rise to the challenge of Thrasher. It's a great sim that will keep you coming back for more. Highly recommended.

OVERALL
8.5

GRAPHICS
8.0

CONTROL
8.0

MUSIC/FX
9.0

FRUSTRATION
7.0

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