Review by DavidK519
"Tony Hawk's Pro Skater has been transformed..."
Now I’ve followed the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series right from its humble beginning, and throughout the first three titles, the game never really underwent much change in its career mode game play. By now I think we all have been waiting for a change in this series. Well, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 has altered the series, definitely for the better. Anyone who’s been waiting for change, your prayers have been answered.
One thing that I was really looking forward to in this game was the return of Bob Burnquist to the lineup after his unfortunate absence from THPS3. And I think we’ll all be glad to see Bam Margera’s second appearance in the series. Otherwise you’ve got all the other pros, like Hawk, Mullen, and Koston just to name a few, who you can rip up levels with.
Something that hasn’t changed as much is the trick system. Like in all the games, you can select grab, flip, lip, and special tricks to give to your skaters. A skater’s ability to perform tricks well is, of course, dependant on their stats, which rise to your liking as you complete more and more goals. There are really no new normal tricks, but there are a vast number of new special tricks to choose from. But you might notice that some of your favorite special moves, such as Casper, Christ Air, and AntiCasper, seem to be missing from the list. But are these awesome tricks absent from the game? No, because they’ve been incorporated into a new trick system, very similar to the hidden combos in THPS3. Each grab and flip trick has a secondary trick that comes with it that can be performed by double tapping, or even triple tapping, the square or circle button. For example, to pull a Christ Air just do an Airwalk grab and double tap circle. The same goes for flatland tricks, except you can hit any combination of the square, circle, and triangle buttons while manualing to pull off spectacular flatland stunts. By using these secondary tricks within your combos instead of the normal ones, you can increase your scores substantially.
This is the part of the game that has been completely transformed. When you enter a level, you’ll be in a free roaming scenario with no time limit (It’s basically the same thing as free skate). As you’re skating around the map you’ll probably notice at least two things, cash icons and people with arrows over their heads. I’ll explain the cash icons later. You can talk to the people with the arrows above them and they’ll pose you with a goal to complete. You’ll be expected to complete the goal within the time given. If you don’t, you’ll fail the goal and have to restart it. If you succeed, you’ll be rewarded with some cash, props from whomever you talked to, and occasionally a stat point. You may even unlock a special trick slot if you complete certain goals. You also receive one pro point for each completed goal.
Some of the goals are the same as in the previous games, like High Score, Pro Score, collect SKATE, and things like that. But now they’ve added some harder routine goals for each level. One goal that can be particularly hard is collect COMBO. This is just like collect SKATE except you have to grab all the letters in one massive combo, which is not always easy. Another normal goal that’s been added is the mini competition. In each level, there’s a competition in which you must rank in the top three to complete to goal. It’s very similar to the competitions in THPS3, because you have three runs, and the best two runs make up your final score. There’s also a fun goal in which you must trick on an object or over a certain gap, performing the tricks that are called out to you as you are doing it. There are other special goals that usually relate to the person you talk to that are unique to each level. In a nutshell, even if you were a master at all the previous games, some of the goals in this game will really challenge you. This is what makes the game more fun than ever, because now there’s much more of a challenge. But that’s just the beginning of it. Once you make it through all the levels, you can go back to old levels where new, and even harder challenges await you.
Once you get 90 pro points the fun really begins. At this stage you can attempt to complete the Pro Challenges, massive goals that are unique to each character. Like the name suggests, the Pro Challenges are among the hardest goals to complete, testing your skills in all areas of the game (That is if you try all of them). But complete a challenge, and you’ll be rewarded with some cash and a nice movie to watch.
Finally, now let’s talk about the cash system. They’ve brought back the cash system from THPS2 to an extent. But instead of buying tricks and stat points, you spend your money on movies, secret characters, levels, and gear, decks, and cheats.
Overall I though that the career mode definitely changed for the better. After the repetitiveness in the career modes of the previous games, this should be a breath of fresh air.
I thought that the graphics were better than ever, but not too much higher above those of THPS3. The characters are portrayed as smooth and very much lifelike. You have to squint to notice flaws within the character design. The blood in this game wasn’t really much different from the last, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (Unless you were hoping for the bails to be gorier, but that’s not really the game’s focus. If you want to see blood, there’re plenty of shooter games out there that will give it to you). The levels are beautifully designed and incredibly detailed, but that’s about really all I can say. I’m not one to judge a game by it’s graphics as much as others.
One thing that I was disappointed in was the selection of music. Although there were a few nice songs on there and some good artists, including AC/DC and Goldfinger, I was unhappy with the music selection. It seems that punk has been done away with, and more hip-hop and pop is being featured in the series. I’m not saying that the music was horrible; I’m just saying that I was disappointed. The sound effects were nice though. Instead of every skater making the same yells of pain and anger when they fall, each pro has their own unique set of screams and sounds that they make when they fall. I also thought the voice acting was pretty good, which means a lot because you hear the voice acting a lot in this game.
Create-a-Skater/ Park Creator:
The Create-a-Skater was more detailed in this game. When you selected a color for anything, you could adjust the hue, and actual color to get exactly the right color you want. Now you can also alter the build of your skater by adjusting the size of their biceps, hands, thighs, feet, ect. The rest is pretty much the same. The Park Creator is almost exactly the same, except you have a wider variety of pieces to choose from, and you can custom size your park. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that you only had two themes to choose from, and they were both kind of similar.
I’m sorry that I can’t say that much about the online portion of the game, because I don’t have to right stuff to play online right now. But I can tell you that online games now support up to eight players at a time, and I think there are two new games to play, including all your old favorites from previous games like Slap, Horse, and Trick Attack.
I though this was an incredible game. You definitely have to give a ton of credit to Activision, Neversoft, and the rest for putting this great game out less than a year after the release of THPS3. Most all of the aspects of the previous games were improved upon, and the transmogrification of the career mode layout was fantastic. This is probably the best addition to the series yet, making it the best skateboarding game that’s out there. If you’ve played and enjoyed the THPS games, you should at least rent this game. If you’re a major fan of the series and have loved all the games so far, put up the money and add this game to your collection.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/02, Updated 07/31/03
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