School is in session and the lesson, for me at least, is how to fall over, a lot!
Session: Skateboarding Sim Game (from here on referred as just Session), has recently landed on Xbox Game Preview and I was pretty excited to check this out. I loved the Tony Hawk series and I do love a good sim game but this excitement was short lived.
My time on Session, was very frustrating to the point of almost rage quitting but as I am a man of science I persevered long enough to bring you this game preview.
Session is a skateboarding sim. If players think they are going to be pulling off gravity defying grinds and spins that would dizzy even the Tasmanian Devil, then think again. This game is as close to ‘real’ skateboarding as you can get in a game. Be prepared to face plant over and over again as you try to pull off even the simplest tricks.
The controls in Session are similar to those featured in the Skate franchise. However, in Session, the controls are a lot more unforgiving. Players use the thumbsticks to control their skaters feet whilst on the board. Left stick for left foot and right stick for right. By using various directional combinations, players can pull off lots of classic skate moves. Or in my case, face plant repeatedly. As this is a simulation game and authenticity is the order of the day, players must pay close attention to angle of entry and exit when it comes to tricks, especially grinds. If you don’t approach rails at a good angle you’re going to end up eating the nearest curb or glitched into a railing.
Time is your best friend when it comes to Session’s controls. It took me a long, long time to get used to not using the sticks to control direction and not pressing the A button to jump. Direction of travel is controlled via the shoulder triggers, one to lean left and one to lean right. Once you get your mind around this method of control it does make a lot of sense and even feels smoother.
There are settings which make the game slightly easier to control, from button configurations to assisted grinds.
The gameplay in Session is all about creating an authentic skateboarding experience. This is not an arcade experience in any way. Players should be genuinely pleased about landing a kickflip. Even moreso if you can combo that kickflip with a 50-50 grind and come out the other side unscathed. Then that’s a good days skating.
Session doesn’t reward the player with points or XP for pulling off gnarly lines or tricks. The satisfaction of actually landing the moves is a reward in itself, apparently. The game does feature daily and weekly challenges, that can be pinned and tracked. For example, tricking over certain gaps, or pulling of designated moves ‘X’ amount of times. This at least gives some kind of direction for players needing an objective to focus on.
Session allows players to create montages out of their, well, skate sessions. The game automatically records your days skating, meaning you can rewind through the footage and find that sick trick you landed and save it to your montage section. This is where Session really stands out. The game will allow more creative skaters to put together some amazing footage that will really echo the glory days of skate videos. However, as with a lot of features in Session, the UI for the editing is not exactly very intuitive. It had me scratching my head for a fair amount of time, trying to figure out how to lock in camera angles and slow-motion effects. Once I figured this out though, I was able to cut together a half decent montage.
As you would expect, players will be able to customize their skater with clothes options and skateboard customization. These options do feature branded content but at this stage of the games development the options are somewhat limited and the UI is clunky at best.
The game currently features 5 different locations, all based round New York City. These locations range from skateparks to underground parking lots. Session also features an environment editor. This basically allows you to go into ‘build mode’ and edit and add assets within the world. Players can move these pretty much anywhere, meaning you can create some crazy trick sections.
Session is still in early access so the game is going to feature some unfinished graphics and interesting bugs. The Xbox One graphics seemed like they’d be more at home on Xbox 360. They are nice but not what you’d expect from a current gen game. The tricks and skating mechanics work really well though. They’re smooth and pretty realistic, right up until you hit even the slightest uneven surface and your character is sent rag dolling.
Session: Skateboarding Sim Game is created by Crea-ture Studios and is currently in Game Preview on Xbox One. The developers have listened to the community so far. They are implementing things like alternative control schemes and more varied tricks. Hopefully, they can get these features into the game quickly. It might be needed to see any kind of commercial success.
Note: We did receive a code from Crea-ture Studios for Session.
You can purchase Session in Game Preview from the Microsoft store. It does have a free two hour trial so you cant test whether or not the game is right for you. You can follow Crea-ture on Twitter for the latest updates to the game. And make sure to stay glued to Generation Xbox for continuing coverage of Session and all things Xbox.