"I think Activision's cash crop is running out here."

Gather round, kids. It's ANOTHER installment of the THPS series, which kind of has been going downhill since the second one came out. Anways, this game does boast some neat new features over the previous installments, but it's nothing ground-breaking like they were. Anyways, on to my review.

DIFFERENCES
THPS 4 boasts many cool and new differences over the previous installments. First of all, now there is no time limit, unless you decide to undertake a challenge by talking to one of 21 different pros and other people scattered throughout the level. This was one of the best things I found about this game, as it allowed you to get much more familiar with the level and find out where things were located. However, this did take away from the game because of that very reason. It was too easy. Once you know where everything is, there is really no more fun. Now, sure, you found that out in the others, but it generally took longer and was a little more fun.

Another addition to this game was the spine transfer. This quite simply just lets you, with a push of a button, transfer over a spine (a two-sided quarter pipe) and land on the other side. This was really only used to increase your multiplier, and I didn't think it had the effect of the manual or the revert. One thing that did help, however, was that by pressing that same button while flying off the side of a half-pipe, you could straighten your skater out and land on the ground rather than face planting and losing your combo.

One last addition to this game was the ability to ''skitch'', or hold on to, the back of a moving vehicle. I liked this, but it quickly loses its appeal, because it's not really that fun.

Now, for the ratings. I will be rating on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best.

GRAPHICS 9/10

This has been THPS's strong point. Especially now that it is on next-gen systems. The graphics in this game are wonderfully done. However, the character models leave something to be desired. They are pretty blocky, and they don't look as smooth as I would have liked. The levels are very impressive looking, with very nice colors and textures that show the PS2 is still a very strong console. The framerate is a silky smooth 60 fps, and I havn't seen too many points where it slows down much, either. Overall, the graphics are probably the best thing in this game.

SOUND 7/10

This was where I instantly didn't like this game as much. The sound in game is pretty good, but not all that realistic of actual skateboarding. The music was nice to listen to for once through each track, if that. I was really dissapointed in that and I usually just turn it off and listen to my own. The voices are all their actual real-life selves, so when you talk to Rune or Bam, you hear their actual recorded voice. This was basically what kept the sound up at a seven.

GAMEPLAY 8/10

This game started out with a great idea: It starts you out on one level with 190 challenges ahead of you. However, instead of tackling them all at once, you take on 16 at each of the levels. Then, after you complete 90 of the goals, you unlock your ''pro challenge''. This was a GREAT idea. It was one of the most fun things in this game. Each of the 14 pros has a different challenge at each level, plus the create-a-skater has one as well. After you complete that, then you move on to 6 more challenges at each level, which are harder and requier more skill. After those, you are done with the challenges and can start in collecting the cash icons (they have made their return) and all the gaps (There are many of them). The gameplay is fun, but I gave it an 8 because it's only fun one time through.

LASTING APPEAL 6/10

THIS was where the game really lost all appeal. I LOVED the game the first time I played through it. Then, it kind of lost it's appeal, because once you're done, there's really not much left to do. The callenges all become repetative and the game really isn't all that fun. If there was more unlockables, then it would give you something to play through again for. But, there isn't. There is a total of 4 unlockable characters, and they aren't too impressive. You can get them any time you get enough money, so you can't really get them for beating it. There are some other things that require money, so beating the game gives you satisfaction, and nothing else. This was the one thing I liked about the third game, the things you got for beating the game. They are all gone now. There is one character you get for getting all gaps, money, challenges, but it's hardly worth it. This is a play-it-once and you're done game.

BUY OR RENT

This is a tricky subject, because the game is too long to rent, yet you get bored with it if you buy it. If you aren't too good at this kind of game and love finding hidden things, you should buy it. If you are the skilled master of THPS, rent it unless you want to take it online and beat the crap out of your friend with your high scores or the new luge feature.

OVERALL 7/10

The graphics are great, the gameplay is good, if a bit stale after awhile, and the sound is below-average. Pick it up if you REALLY like THPS, like me; but leave it alone if you're a newbie to the series. If you are a newbie, pick up the third or second one to get used to it. That's about it.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/26/03, Updated 02/26/03


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