Review by KasketDarkfyre

"Break it down..."

As skate boarding games go, there really isn't a game genre better known than the Tony Hawk series which has spanned across several different systems through a couple of various sequels. In this outing, you take control of Tony Hawk, and a couple of new skaters in an all out skate fest to the finish, busting out heavy scoring combinations. sick tricks and thumb busting rail grinds. There isn't a story, and nothing has really changed other than the locations you skate in and the new idea that playing this on the Net would be a good idea to throw in for the hell of it! Giving you control of several different skaters in the likes of Tony Hawk, Elissa Steamer and Bucky Lasek, you have the ability to pull off some of the most hair raising moves and sick combinations through several stages of well drawn and well planned out madness!

Where as in the first two games, you had to complete mission sections of the game, fulfilling gaps and collecting money, the only thing that really has changed is that you're able to make the stages pretty much bend to your whim while you traverse through them. Examples of this range from making certain parts of the stage move around freely after you've pulled a trick or perform a grind to stop something as wild as a local car chase! These missions are no longer just ranged from performing tricks and getting a top score, but now they force you to really hone your skills in order to complete them and move on to the next stage. Some of these can be rather silly, and a couple of them really don't make much sense, but all in all they do add a slight bit of variety to the game that wasn't quite seen in the past releases of the series.

The Game Play

When you talk about, or hear about Tony Hawk Pro Skater games, the most immediate thing that comes to mind is the tricks that you perform and the scores that you receive in doing them! Nothing has really change in this respect, in which your main focus is to perform, and to do so correctly to get the heavy scores that you'll need, you have to learn the new tricks that have been added to the game. Ground tricks like the Revert help you to link in your combinations, while Manuals {ala Dave Mirra 2} will help you to continue on your trick line. Other features that are rather new to the series, is the ability to pick up Stat Points in different areas to increase your skaters attributes to your particular liking, even though if you take the time to collect them all, you'll find a fully attributed skater at your command anyway!

Game play isn't just limited to the one player game either. With the ability to link up and host a game {which should be available for me sometime in the Spring of 2002} you can play through with up to four other skaters in games such as top score, horse, tag and my favorite, graffiti! This just opens up a completely new door for more advanced amounts of competition, and you don't have to rely on having a multi-tap device or a ton of friends around to play. If you compile this onto the feature of being able to either create your own skater with his or her own move sets, or being able to take an already created skater {such as Tony Hawk} and customizing him or her to your liking, you'll have a wider variety of things that you can do with your skater before you even start playing!

But, as with most games that come into the higher numbers of sequels, you'll have problems with the game after about an hour of play, in which all of the goals seems pretty much linear, and even finding the ''hidden'' decks are easy enough to complete. Once you have a particular trick line in the competitions that you face, you'll find that the higher your score, the better off your overall will be and it doesn't matter who you use, or what you do, once you've reached a certain score, you'll be able to win no matter how many times you crash and burn into the ashpalt! This comes less as a surprise and more of a drag when you're really looking for something new in an already well played and well worn series such as this one. When you boil down the new features, as opposed to the ones that you've probably already played, you'll find that it is more of the same with a few added functions to make you forget that plain and simple fact!

Controlling the game is easy enough to do, and anyone who has played the game before will find that this version doesn't play any different than the last other than the fact that you've got a couple of new moves added to your list. Learning how to use these moves effectively will go a long way into helping you attain some sick scores in later levels, so learning how to use the interface is key to really playing the game. If you've never played the game before, there is a tutorial that you can access and use, and not only that, but it is given to you in the voice of Skater God, Tony Hawk! This helps to ease the learning curve in such a way that you don't have too many mistakes other than just learning how to time and land the tricks correctly. If you're still having problems with the control after this, then most of it will be just learning how to time your grab and air tricks, and how to use the balance meter when grinding a rail or pulling a manual!

The Visuals

Visually speaking, the game is awesome in every way. Clean stages and well designed skaters with fluid movements and trick performances really go a long way. With the customization that is available before you play, you can pretty much make your own skater or customize another skater to your style and liking through a well thought out creation menu! The stages are expansive in their own way, without going too far overboard, and they also have a life of their own with pedestrians and moving traffic as well as moving objects out in the background. From the streets of Los Angeles to the snow covered mountains of Canada, you'll find that there is plenty to look at and much to see without the use of special effects! Combine this in with the speed of the overall game, and you'll find that THPS 3 is a far visually superior game than the first two, and a well recieved piece of eye candy.

The Audio

The audio here is actually well done and helps the game immensely in terms of the music that you have and the ambient sound effects that you'll encounter throughout the game itself. The music is strictly skate boarding music with appearences from different groups that really boost the action and help keep the pace of the game flowing at every step! Something that you may have to do, is turn the music down, because some of it is a little too loud, and can cause a headache when listened to, too much. The sound effects are also a nice touch, allowing the gamer to really feel absorbed into the virtual world, with people speaking to you, screeching car tires and in some cases, three dimensional sound effects that move from right to left or vice versa depending on the stage!

The Verdict
Tony Hawk 3 is a good game, and not to be shunned by any means but I must concur with a fellow reviewer in which the series really is starting to draw out and border on boring. With the amount of new features that were added, THPS 3 makes a pretty good showing, with some good looking visuals, great sound and a relatively complex to learn and easy to play game play interface. Even though the thought of playing this game online does tend to make me want to play it some more, in the long run, most gamers probably won't find more than a few hours enjoyment and once the secrets are unlocked, it'll be something of a party game to play because everyone has had too much Halo in their diet! Rent first, those who are die hard skater fans will find this title to be a great way to kick off a title series on a new system, but those who are weekend gamers will get their fix out of a three day rental.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/10/02, Updated 09/10/02


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