Version Reviewed: 1.0
Graphics / Sound [rating:4.5/5]
Game Controls [rating:2/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:2/5]
Like many middle-americans growing up in the early nineties, skateboarding was a major facet of my upbringing. Finally, the experience has been brought to the iPhone in Vans Sk8: Pool Service by Fuel Industries. The app welcomes you with a cutscene of both Bucky and Omar skating a well-groomed and drained pool. The interface is extremely well done, as is the options you have when it comes to customizing your board and wheels. After picking a rider and enduring a small tutorial of the controls, you’re ready to tear it up. In career mode, you’ve got 10 different challenges to keep you busy. From spinning to grinding, there’s plenty to feed your ambition. Freeskate mode allows you to session the same pool without any time constrains.
The striking visuals are the first thing you’ll notice about Pool Service. The environment is well detailed, as is the pool in which you’re skating. Textures look good against the dusky sky. The soundtrack seems to match, as the tracks I encountered were extremely well mixed and sounded fantastic coming out of the iPhone speakers. Once I had a chance to take it all in, I began trying to play the game.
As my skater ripped around the empty pool, I couldn’t figure out whether or not I was watching a gameplay video or actually playing. No matter how I moved my iPhone, Bucky just kept on going. Tilting my iPhone one way made my skater, just barely, change course. Navigating around the pool feels like you’re strapped to a board riding on rails. It’s impossibly difficult to change direction, and absolutely futile to do any more than wait for him to catch his own air. Once in the air, you perform various grabs and fliptricks by dragging your fingers in various combinations across the screen. Thankfully, there’s a guide to help you figure out what-does-what.
The presentation of Pool Service couldn’t be better executed. The user interface is as clean and intuitive as it gets, unlike the controls. If you’re looking for a game about precision skateboarding, this game couldn’t be further from what you want. It does little more than bring a skateboarding theme to a button-mash fiesta. I can’t recommend the pricey purchase unless you’re dead set on becoming Bucky or Omar and futilely twirling your iPhone about.
Stay tuned for more apps from Fuel Industries, as they seem to have a knack for design and presentation.