If I won a contest where I could invent any means of transportation and have it delivered to my door, an anti-gravity hoverboard would be near the top of my list. Lord knows I could get used to scooting around like those lucky kids in Back to the Future Part II pretty quickly. And while AirBlade almost makes my dreams come true, multiple factors keep my feet stuck in the mud. "Xtreme games with a story" is a micro-genre I hope goes the way of the dodo. Hoping to justify your playtime (and purchase) by weaving a sinister plot into the action, AirBlade stumbles where it could have soared. Each level's mission objectives require you to destroy a specific set of objects (spotlights, moving trucks, radar dishes, limousines, etc.) by grinding on them, and to defeat enemies by performing tricks at/on them. It's a flimsy premise made worse by some crappy collision detection and less-than-stellar camera work. Even the deep moves list and responsive controls are deadened by the completely floaty, magic carpet-style anti-gravity physics. Instead of feeling like the Silver Surfer, you feel like the Silver Slacker, lazily loafing around on your hoverboard. On the flipside, the graphics are nice, and the visually diverse backgrounds are large and full of interactive elements. I can see that Criterion was trying to make something a little different than just the same ol' same o! but that doesn't mean it's good.
The more I played Airblade, the more I got the impression that the guys who made it must hate me. Why else would they craft such a slick graphics engine and fill the game with so much future-cool potential, then run the whole thing into the ground with sluggish control and level objectives so frustrating I nearly put my fist through the wall. The trick system is basic: As long as you don't run into a wall in mid-trick, you won't wreck, so all you gotta worry about is the iffy collision detection. But it takes five freakin' seconds to recover from a tumble, which makes it that much harder to clear the objectives in time, which means--arrgh, my hand!
Airblade's graphics are so good, you're almost willing to forgive the game's terrible premise and execution. It's too bad the lush, colorful environments and detailed character models are wasted on such a generic extreme-sports game. Airblade sabotages everything it gets right with gameplay problems. For example, the controls are easy to pick up, but the game feels dumbed down. It's like a Tony Hawk clone for scrubs. Airblade's mission-based goals might sound intriguing, but it's actually super-frustrating. You've got to complete every goal on a single run; screw it up and you've got to do it over...and over...and over again. A real shame, this is.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP