OPINION

Session: First Impressions. A love letter to skateboarding and street culture

Over the last few hours I have been playing the early access build of Session on Xbox. While I used to play Tony Hawk way back in yesteryear and most would be quick to compare one to the other, it’s almost an apples to oranges comparison and not really a fair one to make.

Firstly, where THPS always focused on your power fantasy from the point of view of the skater, Session almost focuses on the point of view of the skateboard. The camera follows the board as if you were making your own skateboarding trick video, the skater is more likely than not to fall to the effects of gravity if you catch the lip of a curb or try to grind incorrectly – in a lot of ways Session feels like the hardcore version of skating to tony hawks more arcade-driven style.

Controls are different from what you may expect. In the preview build, I was encouraged to focus on precision, the analogue sticks are your feet, you put pressure on one stick then flick with the other to perform a kick flip, an ollie or one of the many other air tricks, the triggers control your weight on the board, lean left / lean right to navigate the obstacles in front of you. Acceleration is also controlled by the X and A buttons, and again each button is a specific foot. A quick press of the Y button brings your character off the board so you can walk around and resume skating once you have lined yourself up with another quick press of Y.

The onboarding (haha) process is an enjoyable one – when I first booted into the world I was greeted by a sarcastic tutor who showed me the ropes and after around 15 mins completing the basics you are set upon the concrete jungle which has been created to provide a sandbox for you to set up the tricks you want. There is no timer, no score tracker and no objective, other than skating and perfecting the ability to control the board.

Musical selection is often as much of a hero in these games as the gameplay and the setting up of the world and I am happy to say that the beat has not been skipped in this regard. The tracks feel fresh with a focus on alternative hip hop beats and songs that feel like they belong on a skaters video compilation.

Graphically and thematically the game does a great job of emulating the North American urban jungle that is so synonymous with skateboarding and street culture, the textures and details looked good on my 65″ 4K TV and nothing looked out of place or janky. The character model was well detailed and moves fluidly from trick to trick to grind to switch.

Overall I am impressed with the work done here on Session. I look forward to more from the Crea-ture development team in Montreal as they bring this love letter to skateboarding and street culture to life. To try out the preview build yourself follow the link here and click the free trial button.

Stay tuned to XboxEra for more.

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