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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Neversoft

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2001

 

 

- Gameplay is easy to get into, but challenging to master

- Controls tweaked over past editions resulting in improved balance

- Good visuals

 

 

- Some instances of weak level design

 

 

Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX (Dreamcast) Review

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (Gameboy Advance) Review

SSX (Playstation 2) Review

 

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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3

Score:  9.8/10

When I was first introduced to Tony Hawks Pro Skater, I was but a young tyke, being weaned on fighters and sports sims. I had not yet found that promised land which only the truly hardcore experience, the blissful delirium that sets in after 8 hours of constant play, where gamer and game are one, uniting the digital and the mortal*.  This religious experience occurred during a marathon session of THPS 2, the title that introduced the critical elements that made the series a phenomenon and worthy of such obscene amounts of time investment.  The manual and flawless level layout were those breakthroughs, and they gelled to create a ravenously addictive (and quite fun) experience. Thus when Neversoft went back to the drawing board with hopes of recapturing the emotive and dynamic qualities of their franchise on a next generation console, a substantial gauntlet was lain. And the result…  All hail Neversoft! They have prevailed the gauntlet and shamed it as well. 

thps-ps2-3-1.jpg (29153 bytes)          thps-ps2-3-2.jpg (28187 bytes)

 

THPS3 delivers on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin.  Lets start with gameplay.  Could there be any complaints about THPS2 in this category?  No.  Was the series handed over to some big Bloomberg of a developer after it went platinum? No.  Is it possible, nay, easy, to string together manual/ grind/ vert tricks together with combo’s stretching into the 50’s/60’s while accumulating millions of points? Yes.  Well paw there you have it, the gameplay is top notch. The control has been thoroughly tweaked to allow for much easier balancing on grinds, manuals and plants which is nice considering most of the maneuvers are prettier to look at than the bails are.  In some cases you are able to sustain a grind string for well up to ten minutes by simply finessing it nicely.  The speed of play has been increased noticeably and at first this presents the veteran with a moment of dread, as you realize you will have to reinvent you playing style to allow for the new obstacle of speed.  The pace however soon becomes unnoticeable and when compared against the speed of THPS2, is much preferred.

 

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Added to the heightened element of speed is an improved manual system with the added revert.  The revert as most know is a trick performed during the landing sequence of a vert which you can manual out of to continue a combo.  This allows for ridiculously high point counts blowing your previous high scores from THPS2 out of the water.  The manual system is improved by not being so touchy, and when you’ve filled you rail balance stat bar to the hilt, falling is inexcusable.

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We’ve seen the THPS series evolve in the area of game progression over the years.  In the first iteration, you were to obtain tapes to move on, in the second you were to accumulated cash to progress and this time around, all you need to do is accomplish the goals laid out,  Hmm on second thought, not much progress.  THPS is above all a goal-oriented game, and this is what keeps it moving.  In this third chapter the redundancy is veiled better than ever.  The goals are now much more mission based, where as before you would grind this, or score that, now you must cause this or prevent that.  A prime example is found in the LA level, where by grinding certain rails strategically placed along fault lines, you can produce an earthquake.  The result of the tremor is a fractured overpass/highway where a car wobbles imperiled.  Meanwhile a squad of black and whites are chasing down a van throughout the level.  The events play out as such, by grinding the rails you cause an earthquake, by causing the earthquake you imperil a car, by freeing the car it falls to the street below and blocks the van being pursued by the cops, which in turn produces a shoot out.  Dynamic gameplay.  This “mission” theme is found throughout the many levels and adds much to the replay value. 

Graphically Neversoft has continued upon their knack for doing no wrong.  The skaters are all poly’d down, looking quite nice.  The animations are increased ten fold to go with the increased amount of tricks, and effectively add to the realism.  The most notably effective new animation is a simple little dip at the hip that all the skaters do when landing an ollie or vert, it causes the skaters to look looser and more life like.  Add to that the incredible amount of customizability to each skater with the added option of redressing all the skaters in a variety of costumes and you find yourself with a great looking adequately customizable package. 

thps-ps2-3-3.jpg (28986 bytes)          thps-ps2-3-4.jpg (22943 bytes)

Level design is one area that at first I had some doubts about.  Though without a doubt they are better looking, and have as much if not more scoring potential, a couple of the levels, namely the Foundry and Suburbia, are, in my eyes, less enjoyable than the worst levels from THPS2.  It has to do with atmosphere more than anything, and personal preference, so this is no serious knock, just more of a critical observation (hey I guess that’s my job).  Later into the game the level flaws of early on are totally forgotten and replaced with the gleeful fun of Mega Mecha Tokyo and the Cruiseship. 

So what’s the best thing about THPS3? Well since I don’t have a home phone I can’t comment on the Internet option, nor can I comment on all the unlockable features, for I am no where near unlocking them all. At this point I simply know that as a total package there is no game on the planet that can captivate me more than THPS3 and for many hours on end no less.  Rodney Mullen and I have become great friends from the time we’ve shared together, and I’m about to get fully acquainted with Kareem Campbell.  O Joy another week to cast aside all responsibilities!

- Tolkemingway

(November 25, 2001)

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