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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3

Review By:  Roger Taylor

Developer:  Neversoft
Publisher:  Activision
# of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Sports
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  11-27-01

In 1998, almost no one outside of the skateboarding world knew who Tony Hawk was. These days, he is a household name. While some of the credit for his recent rise to fame is due to his amazing tricks and stunts that have caused public interest, most of the credit must be given to one game: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Released for the Playstation in 1999, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was an instant classic, and arguably the first skateboarding game worth purchasing since the NES title Skate or Die. The game was ported to almost every platform imaginable and was followed by a sequel. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 improved on the original in a few ways, but without introducing too many new features.

Expect the same from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 (THPS3) for GameCube. The levels are all new, the music is different, the graphics are improved, and a new type of move called "revert" has been introduced, but basically this is the same game as before. That’s not a bad thing.

Choose a boarder. Grab a skateboard. Skate around and pull off the best, most spectacular tricks you can without falling down to score points. THPS3 is a great game to play when you don’t feel like thinking. The spectacularly done GameCube controls help ensure that you don’t even need to think the first time you pick up the game. The oversized A button makes you ollie; the B button does flip moves; the X button does grab moves; the Y button makes your skater grind; and the L and R buttons are used for turning faster in the air. Holding down A speeds you up, and holding back slows you down and stops you. The camera and directions sticks are pretty straightforward. The controls in Tony Hawk could not be better. Even without prior knowledge of how the game works, you should be able to pull off the simplest moves immediately after picking up the controller.

However, long combos and complicated moves can be a bit trickier, and will take more practice. And I do mean long combos. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 is not a realistic interpretation of skateboarding. After playing the game for about one week now I have accomplished combos that last as long as 30 tricks in a row. Any professional or amateur skateboarder will tell you that some of the things you will see in this game are flat out impossible (grinding a telephone wire anyone?), but that doesn’t make it any less fun.

Ever wanted to skate in Rio de Janeiro? How about Tokyo? Or in an airport? All these locations and more are available for your skating pleasure in THPS3. The levels are the biggest of any Tony Hawk game yet. For example, there is an enormous skate park in the Canada level that would have been large enough to be a level all its own, but it takes up just a third or so of the entire environment.

If you were disappoint by the level editor in the second game in the series, you will be happy to hear that you can now make very customizable, very specific, very awesome skate parks, very easily. The create-a-skater has also been improved, especially with the addition of female skaters.

One of the main selling points of the games in the Tony Hawk series over the years have been their outstanding soundtracks. THPS3 only improves on that point, with fairly recent stuff from Alien Ant Farm and Del the Funky Homosapien (of Gorillaz fame), mixed in with some classic tracks from the likes of the Ramones and Motorhead. The soundtrack features hard rock, punk and rap, so it should have something to satisfy most (those who buy skateboarding games, anyway). The sound effects are good, but they do seem off occasionally. Then again, how in the heck was Neversoft supposed to get an effect that sounds like grinding on a tree?

The graphics in THPS3 are what you’d expect from a first-generation GameCube title. They are a step up from previous Tony Hawk titles, with smoother character models, and a lot more going on in the environments (be prepared to be hit by cars). The graphics are good, but not particularly impressive, thanks to a lack of detail in many spots. That is excusable because of the size and scope of the levels, the nearly perfect animation and the smooth framerate.

If you’re looking for a game that will give you a lot of play for your money, look no further than THPS3. The career mode will take a lot of gaming to beat, unless you are a vet of the series, in which case you should breeze through it. But even if you are, the secrets, 2-player mode and flat-out fun gameplay should keep you coming back for more long after the purchase.

Highs:

  • Enormous levels with lots to do.
  • Great soundtrack.
  • Challenging, but not frustrating gameplay.
  • Simply fun to play.

Lows:

  • May be too easy for those who own THPS1 or 2.

Final Verdict:

If you have never owned either of the first two games, or were a huge fan of both, you have no excuse not to own this game.  If you are a fan of the series who can manage to live without this one, I would recommend it, since Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 should be out before too long, and maybe that will have the huge leaps forward for the genre that this game lacks.

Overall Score: 9.5

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