Review by Doodleheimer

"When the Hawk flies, he--um....does some tricks."

As you may know, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater has become a major sports game franchise in a little over two years. It stars professional skater Tony Hawk, known for pulling off a 900 degree spin in mid-air at an X-games thingie a few years back. He stars in this game with his ragtag band of twelve other professional skaters in a quest to see who’s been scaring people from the local amusement park… er, I mean in a quest to become the greatest skaters in the world.

They must do so by going through nine levels based off of cities (Los Angeles, Tokyo), countries (Canada), or just weird and creepy locations (What the heck is a Foundry?), either completing nine set objectives or participating in a skating competition. The objectives range from earning a high score in the level, finding a set number of an object, performing various tricks off of an item, and doing weird things you would only tell your psychiatrist about, IE collapsing a highway, burying a bully in snow, within a time limit of two minutes. Personally, I found the non-trick objectives to be very easy, with me usually completing each goal within ten tries. And as for the trick-oriented goals, they’re still difficult as hell, as you pretty much have to keep the same trick going the whole level in order to get some of the score goals in the later levels. But despite all the cons, it still is a pretty fun game to play.

The skating competition is where you must visit a level and get as high a score as you can in one minute in a round, with three being the magical number of rounds in the competition levels. Only two rounds count, and your performance is judged by who else, but 19 year-old kids, stoned beyond all belief.

They’ve also upped the level size significantly in this game. They are frickin’ HUGE, and full of possible trick lines just begging to be included in your trick line. But with every pro, there’s a con. There needed to be more levels! Did it ever occur to them to do that? Well, obviously not, because they didn’t do it. Either that or they're saving all their big stuff for Tony Hawk 4.

By completing a certain number of goals in a level, a new level opens up for your skating enjoyment. You must then complete a number of goals in both levels in order to enter the next level, and so on. It replaces the cash system from Tony Hawk 2, or they just brought back the tape system from Tony Hawk 1. It’s pretty much the same either way you look at it.

How you score WAS pretty innovative, until other companies started using it in their “clone games” of Tony Hawk (Grind Session, Thrasher), and brought it to other sports (BMX, Snowboarding, Surfing). Now it’s beginning to tire me, not physically like combing my beautiful hair, but mentally, as I’m expecting more and more and MORE. They started with a formula of by performing two or more tricks in a level; each trick multiplies the score per trick performed in a combo. Then they thought they could make it better by adding new tricks, which it did for a while, but they ended up the silly, silly fools in this game of skateboarding games. The system still stands, with some new crap, but remains the same underneath.

The scoring and trick system has now got another trick to join the club. This being the Revert, which lets you do a 180-degree spin when you land on a half-pipe after doing a grab trick, and you can manual from that and now you can easily combine all your ideal trick combos (We’ve all had those dreams, it’s perfectly normal) into one whole clump. The other basic skating tricks, IE grabs, board flips, manuals, grinds, are still there, and haven’t succumbed to the temptations of alcohol and tobacco plaguing our nation’s skating tricks today.

A few other new features are introduced to the game. One is a grind, lip-trick, and manual balance meters, so you can easily see your tricks progressively getting worse without mindless guessing. Two is a hidden trick feature, where if you press a certain combo of buttons, a hidden trick is performed, which is good news for the eight year-old button pusher group. Three is real people in the levels, who will sometimes ask you to “bust out a trick”. If you do a successful trick in front of them (I can never do that in real life, especially when trying to impress the girls with something other than my magnificent movie-star looks), you will earn a spectator bonus, which is added to your multiplier.

The graphical style has dramatically changed from the first two Tony Hawk games. It leaves behind the old graphical style which made everything look like it was developing before your eyes, for a new, free-wheeling animation which makes everything look like it was there forever and leaves behind most all fogginess, pop-up, and that feeling of computer beta animation. The characters are very detailed, right down to the designs on their “personalized” skateboards. (I could have my own brand of skateboards, but I’m too lazy to make that happen) All blockiness and graininess has been removed also, making the floor NOT look like a checkerboard of somewhat matched colors.

Hey, I just got the idea for Tony Hawk’s Pro Checkers!

New bail graphics have also been introduced, ranging from full sliding on the ground to just shattering your kneecaps. The weird thing is that you always recover from it immediately, no physical therapy or anything like that. And also, when you bail, you leave a bloodstain on there that lasts there for a while, and sometimes is there the next time you play that level. It’s a lot like Perfect Dark, where the bloodstains would stay there for a while.

The music in this game features a lot of good bands with great songs. It’s good to see they didn’t stoop to putting crappy punk bands in the game, as pretty much any basic punk song could fit in here. Just a few names on this soundtrack include The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Ramones, CKY, and Alien Ant Farm. All twenty songs in the game fit the levels in very different ways. By just listening to them alone, you wouldn’t think it’d work, as they go into different genres other than basic punk rock, but you’ve been proven wrong! As King Broccoli would say, “BAHAHAHAHAHA!” But some good bands were neglected from the game, and they had perfectly fitting songs too! For instance, Perfect People by Pennywise and Session by The Offspring, just to name a few, would’ve fit very well in the magical universe of Tony Hawk 3.

The sound effects I noticed had small differences and improvements from Tony Hawk 2. I was never impressed with the sound effects of the Tony Hawk series, or any of the clones of Tony Hawk, mainly because the same one was used for every grind on a certain surface. It really grated on your nerves after a while. But now I can finally notice different grind sounds for the same surface, yet I want more! I want real-life sound effects in this game. I want to actually hear the skater’s bones break when he or she bails. I want to hear the sound of the 900 whipping the air. I want to hear the wheels squeak, as if they’re asking for grease. Hopefully they’ll happen in Tony Hawk 4, so cross your fingers, just like in the lottery logo.

And now we come to the main problem of this game. That’s right, THE CONTROL. (Creepy music plays) The button system was done the best it could, but the GameCube controller ruins it all. I have to adjust the movement of my fingers so they can adapt to the new button locations. And they took out the shoulder-button spins and replaced it with a revert button and a camera view button. I have to press the shoulder buttons; it’s a force of habit that cannot be broken. They could live without putting in the camera views, put back in the shoulder spins, and replace the camera button with the revert button.

The multiplayer mode has new games, including Head Smack, where you try to run each other over as much as you can within a set time limit. But the classic three from Tony Hawk 1, those being Trick Attack (Score as many points against a friend in a set time limit), HORSE (Like the Basketball game, only with skating tricks in place of points with a set area for each trick), and Graffiti (Do a trick off as many surfaces within a set time limit to change it to your color), remain my favorites, as they are easy to learn, and incredibly fun and competitive, and it turns friend against friend.

This game was craploads of secrets to discover. Numerous characters to unlock, including Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Darth Maul (I see Activision is using their licenses well) to name a few. The Roswell level, the Warehouse level, and the Burnside level (Go Oregon!) from Tony Hawk 1 are unlockable in this game, although they seem very limited in trick potential compared to the other levels in this game. And there are also extra boards and points to raise your stats in the levels.

Doodleheimer’s rip-off of Jerry Springer’s Final Thoughts

If you’re a fan of the previous two games, then get this. Unless you don’t have $50, because I wouldn’t exactly work myself ragged for this game. It’s pretty short if you were a master of the first two, and with the PS2 version being slightly better, deprive the GameCube of a game sale and benefit the PS2.

My score – 7/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/02/02, Updated 05/20/02

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