Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
The wizards at Activision have once again aimed their shrink ray at Tony Hawk, and the results are sure to impress come this March. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater3 has everything that made its PlayStation 2 cousin a smash, including trick-linking revert moves and expansive, interactive environments.
Los Angeles, new to this latest preview version, has its trademark Walk of Fame, lots of snooty pedestrians to knock down, and an entire movie set to wreck. But watch out for the punks loitering in front of the nightclub--they'll kick Tony's ass if they get the chance.
The game also has a Kid mode that helps younger Game Boy Advance players shred with the best of 'em and a slew of multiplayer games (which don't require multiple copies of the game), including Trick Attack, Free Skate, Tag, King of the Hill and the ever-popular H.O.R.S.E.
Download Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
Last November, along with thousands of others, I purchased the GameCube, buying into Nintendo's promise of next-generation, video-game bliss. Considering the company's less-than-stellar track record with the N64, I knew it was a bit of a risk. Besides the expected scarcity of launch titles, Nintendo's policy of quality over quantity meant that additional titles would probably trickle onto store shelves at a snail's pace.
As of the writing of this review, it's been almost two months since the GameCube's release, and comparatively speaking (with the Xbox, that is), there is indeed a lack of software. And as far as I'm concerned, Nintendo can take their policy and...well, let's just say, "We want some games and we want them now!" Hey, I can live with less software, but just gimmee something I can sink my teeth into.
Well, for all of us GameCube owners, Nintendo might have heard our cries after all. With the release of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, there's no question we're getting quality. The latest in the long-running series is available for no less than six different platforms. The GameCube version skates home with 13 internationally known pros, including the legendary Tony Hawk. Other features include eight massive interactive levels, an improved Skate Park Editor, a Create-a-Skater (now including female skaters), a kickin' sound track, and hidden goodies all over the place. But since the GameCube is a new platform for the successful franchise, questions of game play and control loom large. So, how does this version stack up? Well, grab yer skateboard, and let's ollie on over to the rest of the review, shall we?
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
If there's one consistency about the Tony Hawk franchise that puts most other games to shame, it's the replay value that the game has to offer. Trust me when I tell ya, this version keeps that string going, and then some. There's so much to do in this game, I'll give you a quick word of warning'don't play this game unless you're willing to put the rest of your life on hold for a while!
The game allows you to choose from one of thirteen professional skaters, including Steve Caballero, Kareem Campbell, Rune Glifberg, Bucky Lasek, Bam Margera, Eric Koston, Rodney Mullen, Chad Muska, Geoff Rowley, Elissa Steamer, Jamie Thomas, Andrew Reynolds, and of course, Mr. Tony Hawk himself. Each skater has his own bag of tricks, but if you so desire, you can edit each pro skater's list of available tricks to your liking. There are different goals and bonus locations for each pro skater, giving the game a ton of replay value. So, if you want to complete the game with each pro skater, it'll be a different ride each time.
As a single-player game, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 offers three basic modes of play: Single Session, Free Skate, and Career Mode. Single Session allows you to choose a level and skate for a period of two minutes, where your goal is to set high scores and claim new records. If you choose to play in this mode first, you'll find only one level available, The Foundry. However, as you complete the given goals in Career mode, you can gain access to the other levels. Free Skate enables you to choose a level and practice to your hearts content, skating and pulling off trick after trick until you've mastered them all. If you're anything like me, you "need" this mode. It's a blast to play and it's the perfect way to prepare yourself for competition'I call it "skateboarding therapy."
Experienced gamers may want to pass up these two modes and go straight to the Career Mode. This is the real meat and potatoes of the game for several reasons. The first and most obvious reason is that, by completing the goals of each level, you'll be able to unlock subsequent levels of competition. Among them are Canada, Rio, Suburbia, Tokyo, Skater's Island, and Los Angeles. Each level is massive and highly interactive with objects appropriate to the location, such as cars, birds, pedestrians, storefronts, rooftops, ice cream trucks, and working escalators. Needless to say, there's much more to see, and you'll find each level offers a living, breathing environment that perfectly captures the essence of the locale. As an extra incentive to playing in Career Mode, if you perform up-to-snuff in each level, you'll be able to increase your stats and learn new tricks as you go.
Perhaps the greatest feature of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 is its killer combo system for pulling off various tricks and chaining them together to maximize your score. It is this area of the game that'll have you coming back again and again. Grinds, grabs, ollies, nollies, wallrides, manuals, and flips (to name just a few) can now be linked together with the newly added revert'a quick 180 degree spin of your board as you land. With the revert maneuver, you'll be able to continue your combo, seamlessly stringing together trick after trick like never before. The potential for pulling off different combos is practically limitless, especially once you begin to realize the number of different tricks the game has to offer'mind-numbing! But, be warned, the number of tricks and combos you execute are matched by an equal number of controller button combinations which you must learn to master in order to be successful. After a little practice, this reviewer found the GameCube controller to be up to the task. If you find yourself having problems, check out the options menu, where you'll be able to adjust the controller configuration to your liking.
If all of this is not enough, the game throws in an excellent Create-a-Skater option and a Real-Time 3D Park Editor. When you create a skater, among other items, you'll be able to customize your skater's body type, trick style, stance, clothing, gear, and even stats, which increase your skater's performance. Using the 3D Park Editor, you can create the skate park of your dreams with ramps, rails, pools, quarterpipes and other obstacles'all in real time.
At this point, I've touched upon what I feel are some of the significant qualities and features of the game. There's hidden locales and skaters throughout the game waiting to be discovered. There's so much more to say'the list goes on and on. Suffice it to say, the most important feature of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 is that it's flat-out fun to play.
As a complete package, the graphics in the game are very good. The skating environments are huge, and each offers a distinct look and feel, displaying clean and colorful textures. As mentioned in the previous section, each level offers a generous amount of objects and buildings to skate in and around, which are modeled with an acceptable level of detail. There's a decent draw distance with only minor pop-up, however, considering the power of the console, I was surprised to see any. In addition, in certain levels, the frame rate staggers and stutters from time to time, and while it may not necessarily upset your timing during crucial maneuvers, it is bothersome nonetheless.
The player models are adequately detailed, but the real star of the show is the manner in which they animate. Skater movements are as smooth as glass, with an added emphasis on a seamless blending of transitional animations from one trick to another. Player movements are also somewhat more realistic than in previous versions. Your skaters will take to the air with body parts twisting and gyrating like you've never seen before. Even the wipeout animations have received an upgrade, as you'll now notice slops and spills that look more painful than ever. And when you do wipeout, you'll even see a splattering of blood on the walls and ground...good stuff, for sure.
On the whole, I'm very satisfied with the visuals that the game has to offer, and I'm sure you will be too. Considering it's the first of its kind for the platform, I'll keep my complaints to a minimum. Having said that, the graphics are very good, but not great. With plenty of room for improvement, in both environmental object detail and frame rate, here's hoping next year's version takes full advantage of the console's horsepower.
If ever there was a game that delivers an audio experience, which properly compliments the game play, it's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. The music from bands like Xzibit, Alien Ant Farm, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, perfectly matches the style of game play, consistently pumpin' out a raucous and rowdy sound track that gets the heart pumpin' and the adrenaline flowin'. Throughout each level, you'll hear realistic environmental effects from birds, cars, crowds of bystanders, and a host of others. Along with the sounds of your skateboard sliding and grinding about, is an announcer who's always there to remind you of your progress (or lack thereof). As a complete package, the game's audio delivers big time.
Unfortunately, this year's version lacks online support (Oh well, maybe next year!). Nonetheless, grab a buddy, plug in a second controller, and get ready for a dazzling array of all-out multiplayer mayhem. Two-player modes include: Graffiti, Trick Attack, Horse, Slap, King of the Hill, and Free Skate. My two favorites are Horse and Slap. Horse is a one-on-one best trick contest, where you perform a trick and then sit back and watch as your opponent tries to repeat it. Your rival must successfully match or beat your score. If unsuccessful, he or she is given a letter. The first one to spell "HORSE" goes down to defeat. Slap is exactly what it sounds like. Skate around, pick up speed by pulling off some tricks, and slap (collide into) the other skaters. The faster of the two skaters survives the collision and earns a "slap", while the slower one bites the dust. The one with the most slaps wins the game.
For all of you proud GameCube owners out there who are looking for something really special to feed your new console, buying Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 is pretty much a no-brainer. With a slick combination of pleasing graphics, awesome music, huge environments to explore, and a killer combo control system, the game's replay value flies over the ramp and off the charts. Sure, there's still room for improvement, especially with the aforementioned frame rate issues. Nonetheless, you skateboarding diehards are gonna love it. And even if you're not into skateboarding games, after playin' with this sucker for a while, trust me, you will be!
Tony Hawk, aside from creating one of the most successful skateboarding career's in history, has also forged one of the most popular sports game franchises of the last few years. Starting with the original Tony Hawk for the PSX, there have been many incarnations of his 'Pro Skater' titles, the latest, Pro Skater 3 appearing on six different platforms itself. Intent on delivering an experience to top the previous one, each game has featured improved gameplay, graphics, and physics'all meant to let you skate like the pros, watch them suffer terribly during each wipeout, with gameplay just unrealistic enough to make the game entertaining.
No storyline. I personally consider this one of the many convenient features of most sports titles.
Focusing purely on gameplay, Tony Hawk lets you choose from a variety of real world skaters, all chosen from some of the most impressive names today, like Tony Hawk (gee, go figure), Bucky Lasek, and Elissa Steamer. Along with the actual pros, you can unlock many different 'unusual' skaters later on, like Wolverine, Darth Maul, and even the Neversoft Eyeball man that shows up in the opening credits. Each skater has a balance of different statistics, like balance, speed, and tricking ability that all go into how good they respond with the controls when you're actually playing. Create your own skater, and you'll have the ability to customize their entire outfit, boarding style, and once you've actually started, even their deck.
For impressive skaters, you must have impressive terrain, and the designers of Tony Hawk 3 have taken careful note to make each stage just that. With an eye for design that can only be called absurd, this title takes you from an iron foundry to a wintery Canadian skate park, and even to a massive cruise ship level. With as much as the game gives you to do in the career mode, it doesn't really matter that it can be beaten fairly easily, using just a few hours of your time.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Controlling your rider is fairly simple. You've got movement, grinding, and even buttons to pull off a board flip trick. Pull out a skater dictionary, and you'll likely be able to perform any move that they mention, up to and including jumps that'd break any real skaters legs, or at least leave them in traction for months. The analog sticks let you control the movement and pace of your rider, whom you'll want to keep moving the entire time. With a little practice, you'll get the hang of building up your speed and then grinding onto and off of any of the various edged surfaces in the game, one of my favorite techniques.
In order to pass through each stage, you'll need to complete a series of objectives. Aside from three ranks of points you can score on each stage, each progressive increase scoring you another objective, you've also got environmental challenges. Stuff like, "grind from this point," "knock object A into person B," and so on. Collect these objectives and you'll be able to go to the next stage. As you progress, you also find Stat points on each stage, as well as new decks with which to ride. Both items increase your effectiveness while playing, and make your rider that much easier to control.
There's a ton of skaters to choose from, all leaders of the industry with Tony Hawk among them, so your choice for skate style and overall stats are pretty good. Later on, as your stats get better, you may just end up sticking with one rider, carrying them all the way through to the end of the game. As you go through, you'll occasionally be able to unlock secrets, like hidden skaters such as the ever famous Darth Maul, or the Neversoft Eyeball, although at the time of this writing, there still aren't any reliable codes, so you'll need to beat the game a few times to unlock them.
Along side the career mode and custom skater options, you can also create your own park. With as much versatility as the first editions of Tony Hawk, this version works even better since the Xbox has a very very large internal hard drive on which to save your custom compositions. Recreate your favorite real world park, and play it, Tony Hawk style.
The same old multiplayer greats are still here, with games like HORSE, King of the Hill, and of course, Trick Attack. Playing with friends hasn't been easier now that it's on a system with four built in controller ports, making for an easy to play experience.
Requisite for a game with an impressive pedigree on such a new system, Tony Hawk 3 features improved graphics that do it justice on the Xbox. Bloodstains appear more realistic, the framerates are consistently high and free of stutter, and there's next to nothing in the way of graphic artifacts to get in the way of your gameplay. There are plenty of little options available for those interested in creating a custom skater, and once you've beaten most of the levels, there's a plethora of extra movies and behind the scenes material to watch. I'm personally amazed at some of the torture their skaters went through to help capture the real essence of every fall and twist.
It's amazing what you can bear about a game when it features lots of good music. Tony Hawk features the likes of RHCP, Pennywise, and Alien Ant Farm. Even better, since the Xbox can rip CDs for you, count on being able to use that music in the game. One of the few games to feature this ability, you can use the songs you've put on the Xbox hard drive as a soundtrack while you're playing. My only complaint is that you've only got something like two minutes for each stage in career mode, so you don't get to hear much of the music.
A pretty good title for the money, I'd say. I'm not as obsessed with this genre as I am others, but it still presents a really fun little piece of skater action, and has a much more forgiving learning curve than a lot of Action/Adventure titles that have been coming out recently. If you're a skate fan, this is definitely worth picking up, and if not, you can always rent it, and enjoy the fun in little 5 day chunks.
No hack, talentless goons need apply! This game seeks only lively participants, quick of wit and foot, to participate in a no-holds-barred, trick-filled extravaganza the likes of which the skater world has never seen.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 is the latest in the Tony Hawk series of skate games and, as you've probably guessed, is a sports title centered around that fine street art, skateboarding. As a mystically cool skate celebrity, you'll get to skate off cars, pipes, rails, and pretty much anything else you can find in your way, all the while gaining more points and goals that will let you progress through the game.
Without a storyline, Tony Hawk 3 relies on strong, yet strange, skateboarding gameplay. You've got thirteen skaters to start out with, featuring many of the most popular faces in modern skateboarding, like Steve Caballero, Bam Margera, Elissa Steamer, and of course, the ever popular Tony Hawk. These skaters, combined with eight different levels and a horde of unlockable secrets, give you plenty of breathing room and space to play.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
As a skate sim, the first thing you'll need to get used to is the movement. You'll be skating the entire time, and just getting your board to stand still is a difficult thing. Of course, that doesn't really matter much, since points and goals are only earned while moving, so chances are, you won't want to stop anytime soon. Your skater is controlled with the analog sticks, controlling forward and side to side roll, with the buttons taking care of tricks like ollies, nollies, manuals, plants, and wallrides. It'll take a little practice to get used to it, but the game learns easily and slowly steps you up to the more advanced moves. You've got a different set of tricks you can perform in the air, like flips and grabs, and you've also got the ability to grind on pretty much any surface imaginable.
The game itself has a few different gameplay modes to try. You can go through a freestyle session, a single ride skate session, or the career mode, where you'll unlock the different tracks and riders that pop up throughout the game. If you're new to these kinds of games, there's also a fairly good tutorial mode that helps you practice and refine your skills. The career mode is probably where you'll want to spend most of your time, as freestyle and single session modes focus purely on gaining points and pulling off tricks. Career mode lets you advance through the different levels of Tony Hawk 3, unlocking items as you go.
Although points are important in career mode, they're just one part of the whole, as this mode requires you to complete special tasks to unlock each new area. In each stage, there are three different levels of points you'll need to score and each task is unique to the stage itself. You'll find things like 'impress 5 skaters,'? 'push the foreman into the pool,'? or 'grind off of the molten bucket.'? Some of the later stages require accumulating a certain number of points or placing in the top three of a given number of levels, but they're all pretty self-explanatory.
On top of that, there are quite a few little secret items to unlock, mostly in the form of new skaters, like Darth Maul and Wolverine. Each stage has a secret area or two, which you'll unlock as you complete the goals in each stage. Start by freeing all of the valves in the Foundry level, the first part of the game, and you'll get access to the Reactor Core.
You'll also need to pay attention to your skater as you play. You'll find a series of stat points as you play, shaped like little Tony Hawk logos. As you gather these points, you can later use them to modify your character, improving his ability to trick, spin, speed, or manual his way to victory. With the wide variety of skaters to choose from, each with a different focus on their abilities, you've got an excellent choice for your starting point. Rack up enough stunt points, and you may even be able to max out the abilities of the skater you're using.
Lastly, there's also a fully furnished park editor built into Tony Hawk 3. I didn't get to play around with it much, but what I did see, I liked. While you can't get levels as absurd and strange as the normal in-game areas, you can construct many of the traditional skate park styles that aren't available in the career mode. The park editor lets you construct a fairly large stage (large for Tony Hawk 3 that is), using a literal crapload of scenery and skatable objects. I live not too far from a large skatepark myself, and I was able to model it pretty well in the park editor. It isn't a large park, nor is it complex, but the choice of grinding spots, ramps, and pipes is very good.
There are many different multiplayer modes you can use. Two players can play split screen on a single PS2, or you can play over the internet or LAN with up to four players. 'Graffiti'? mode lets you try to outdo your opponent with tricks, which are tagged with your color of choice when you complete the trick. 'Trick Attack'? is a timed mode that has you competing for most trick points scored, and 'H-O-R-S-E' sets you to a single best trick competition, trading back and forth. 'Slap!'? allows you to pit your skater against another skater, seeing who stands after you collide. The 'King of the Hill'? competition sets you looking for the crown, which you'll need to hold for the set time limit to win. You can also do a free skate mode with multiplayer, but that's a given.
I enjoyed both the levels and the characters in Tony Hawk 3. Each seemed to have a goodly amount of detail and care put into them, with semi-realistic texturing, and (usually) complex environments in which to show off your skateboarding skills. The skaters were probably the most impressive thing -- not only can you pick from several different real-world riders, but there's tons of hidden characters (including Darth Maul and the Neversoft Eyeball man from the credits), and even a custom skater tool that lets you create a unique skater. That last one is significant just from the amount of stuff you can change about your character. From weight to skin color, and even clothing and tattoos, you could literally make hundreds of different characters. Most all of the levels were attractive and pleasing to the eye, featuring plenty of good art material, and a lot of background 'filler' like other skaters and pedestrians. The only thing I was really disappointed by was the size of each arena, as far too many of them seemed small and cramped. In particular was the Canada stage, as it really left me feeling like it was only half a level.
On the other hand, Neversoft made good use of the DVD-ROM qualities of the PS2, and included a lot of short little videos, showcasing the talents of many of the skaters featured in the game. They also populated the game with a lot of the test footage, showing you exactly how painful a nasty little crash can be, or how much skating was needed to generate good motion effects for the game.
Ah... often the best part of a sports game, the soundtrack of games like Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 often stand out for their composition and content. In particular, Tony Hawk is one of my fav's, just for bands like Alien Ant Farm, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Pennywise. With some of the best skating music I've heard in a long while, the soundtrack was better than most any other game I've got. I may be a sucker for good pseudo-punk music, but such is life. The sound effects are pretty well done, as you'll get a good sampling of different textures as you run across them, from concrete to gravel and in some cases wood. The game's only weakness is the relatively poor quality of organic sounds.
A fun title, Tony Hawk 3 isn't as well implemented as I'd have liked. Enjoyable, for certain, but lacking that unidentifiable combination of speed and ease of movement that makes games like this great, I can't say that Tony Hawk was a truly excellent title. Even after I'd played for a long while, I still found it far too easy to wipe out by landing sideways, or miss a critical rail by mere inches. Still, even with that in mind, Tony Hawk builds a strong game on solid gameplay, and has enough in the way of graphical improvement to make it a worthy successor to the Tony Hawk title.