Guest review: Session

Massive thanks to Josh from FullSync for covering this one for me. I’ve wanted to try Session for a while, but never found the time. I love a good skating game, and crea-ture studios seem to have approached the genre from a very different angle!

Here’s Josh’s review.

 

Session

At the end of the 90s, one of the best games to ever hit the market arrived.Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Since then we’ve seen a few more additions to the series, including the recent remaster. However, there have been many games in between them, some that do well and some that end up crashing down much like if I tried to skateboard in real life. So how does Crea-ture Studios and Illogika’s Session hold up compared?

First off, this game is nothing like the old Tony Hawk’s games. It’s not that kind of mix of arcade and simulation style. You aren’t going to be able to play as Spiderman with the help of a code, or perform insane tricks just to rack up points, this is more of a pure simulation game. You could even say it is aimed more at ‘real’ skaters.

As such, it’s not as simple as button bashing to perform tricks, hammering the buttons to pull off flips and spins as you grind along a rail. You really have to learn the controls. Which you are taught the basics of as you play through the tutorial. It’s nice and detailed, so as long as you pay attention, you should be fine. That said, with the game having various difficulty levels, even the tutorial isn’t going to be enough to help you play on a tougher level.

On the easier modes, you’ll be fine, able to pull off tricks here, there and everywhere. But as you progress through difficulties, you will have to perfect combinations with that much more precision to pull them off. Otherwise, you’ll fall flat on your face. It won’t matter whether you’re trying to ollie, grind or even perform a kick-flip, you’ll fail. But it’s one of the things that makes Session a rewarding game to play. Because the more you put into it, the more you get out.

The controls themselves are quite impressive too. You steer using the triggers on the Xbox controller, and are able to push off with either right or left foot using A and X. Freeing up your thumbs to move freely about the controller, giving you more control over your board, instead of taking up their time by using the analogues to steer like in some games.

Session
 

Simulation

Sadly though, being a true simulation game, it does mean that some of the more extreme tricks you may be able to pull off in rival titles like Skate for example, are not possible here. Because this isn’t the glamorous show-off title that others try to be. It is meant to be a realistic simulation, and it certainly is. You can’t just jump on a board in real life and be a pro straight away, well, maybe if you’re born with the skills you could. You have to put the practice in to get better.

And that realism is carried through in the game’s design. Set in an abandoned city, it makes for a really great location to be skating around. With various parks to choose from inside. It all looks mighty impressive, and really feels like a simulation game. And from what I can see, and what I’ve read, there have been numerous new places added to the game with more to come. Keeping the game nice and fresh offering new places to skate around.

The downside is, there are some areas that you skate around that when you perform tricks on specific walls or rails, bugs creep out. And it’s not just a case of not being good at the game. Ok, it may be a little bit like that. But when your character falls off and flies across the map, that’s definitely not meant to be part of the realistic experience Session is trying to offer.

 

Overall

And it’s not just in these bugs where the realism falters, the ragdoll physics of the skaters doesn’t feel that real either. It almost feels too stiff if you fall off. Not a major issue, I must say, since your aim is not to fall off your board, but sometimes it’s the finer details like that which can move a game from good status to great.
Overall, Session offers a solid skating experience.

By no means is it going to fill the void left by titles such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Skate, but that’s because this game is trying to do something different. It does away with the glamour, and the theatrics associated with more arcade style titles, and tries to offer people a more realistic experience of what it is like to jump on a board in real life.

It’s by no means the perfect specimen, but it has the promise and potential to be. Only time will tell us if it gets there.

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