One of the reasons why some videogame companies are in trouble at the moment is their love of gadgets. Since the original Guitar Hero made a fortune by throwing in a plastic guitar there have been a whole bunch of exotic peripherals thrown at gamers. I reckon they peaked with the Rock Band drum kit, and it has been downhill all the way since. Tony Hawk Shred is perhaps the last big piece of plastic that you will get with a game for a while. It was originally priced at more than 80 pounds, but you can now pick it up, post free, on eBay for around fifteen quid, at which point it starts to look good value. That’s how I ended up with a copy.
The board itself is really sturdy and bristles with sensors that make it able to detect ollies and the like, as well as when you grab the board during a stunt. It even comes with Velcro strips you can use to stop it wearing a hole in your designer wood floor. If you get the Xbox version you should be able to use the sensor signals in your XNA programs, although I suspect the market for skateboard compatible games is probably a bit limited.
The game itself is nothing more than OK though. Rather than give you an environment to explore as you like, instead you are run through some sequences on rails and have to perform tricks and stunts at pre-defined points. This makes the game very restrictive, although the sequences are nice enough to look at. Tony Hawk himself pops up to make comments on your efforts, although they should have added a mini-game where you could work him over with the board after he has said the same inane thing for around the tenth time.
However, if you fancy a night in with some friends doing something stupid (and ideally you live at ground level and have a concrete floor) for fifteen quid you could do a lot worse.