Aggressive Inline (2002)
A game like Aggressive In-line is something of a rarity now-a-days. It only comes along once in a great while. I remember my first time with this game vividly, a hot summer day, taking a break from my first job and strolling through Blockbuster. Grabbing an ice cold Vanilla Coke and a box of Junior Mints, I waited until my shift was over and I headed over to one of my best friend’s houses.
We threw the game into our PS2 that we co-bought and owned together, and we played all afternoon long. Hearing the lucid sounds of Hoobastank’s hit song that was overplayed on the radio and just having an absolute blast.
Aggressive Inline takes what should have been Dave Mirra 3, and not BMX XXX, and swaps out the sport for something different. Even though it switches the BMX bike for a pair of inline rollerblades, something that most looked down on as the least cool extreme sport, the game makes good with a variety of small changes to make it fun and exciting.
The usual Grab and Grind mechanics are available, and the game tends to really lean heavily into the Tony Hawk style of gameplay. Speed and verticality are major changes to the Dave Mirra style that developers Z-Axis were accustomed to. Chaining massive combos together are now a staple and the game really did morph into a sort of clone of the popular extreme sports games. But that being said, this takes those familiar mechanics and adds to them, improving on the already well worn formula. So much so, that the game takes on a life of its own. It has a certain feel, something lighthearted without feeling completely lame.
The levels themselves are the star of the game, the main focus, and with only seven levels and a small tutorial, the developers really needed to design levels with the intention of not just moving on as soon as the high score objectives were taken care of. Sure Tony Hawk started this, and Dave Mirra improved on this, but this is where Aggressive Inline kicked it up a notch and made the levels really feel like they were “alive” in a way. They weren’t just static pieces of ground and ramps, with a few cars looping in a seemingly endless circuit. Performing certain actions, completing objectives warped and transformed the levels. Grinding a few pipes together might cause them to connect together and create a new path, or grinding a couple ledges might cause some statues to fall and break the ground into a new area.
These little cutscenes, paired with characters walking around the levels and even a photographer, who wants you to do certain moves in a specific area tweaked the game in just the right amount of way, to really make this game stand out above the rest. With no time limit, you can just spend as much time skating around to learn where everything is. Once a certain amount of objectives are complete, you can actually unlock even more of the level and get more objectives. It’s really kinda a huge game that can take a good 10+ hours to complete if you want to do everything in the game and 100% it.