Review by Nemo4ever

Reviewed: 12/05/02 | Updated: 12/05/02

Great fun for newbies and veterans...

In case you’ve been living on Mars under a rock with your fingers in your ears, Tony Hawk 3 is the third title in the extremely successful series of skating games based off the world’s most famous professional skater. THPS3 expands on the in-depth gameplay of its predecessors to give gamers an exciting experience.

The heart of THPS3 is its Career mode. Here you play as one of 13 skaters performing tricks in different stages to earn points and advance. If none of the skaters suit your fancy, you can make your own using the expansive create-a-skater feature. The stages in career mode come in two formats. The first is the mission-driven stages in which you must complete unique objectives specific to each level. The objectives vary from level to level and go a long way towards diversifying gameplay. The Los Angeles level actually changes after you complete an objective that causes an earthquake, significantly altering the environment in which you skate.

The other format is the 3 medal stages where you compete with other skaters in a tricking contest. These stages are typically more difficult than the others and provide a steady challenge. Heck, if you don’t like any of the stages the game gives you, you can build your own with the 3-D Skate-Park-Editor! If you’re new to the Tony Hawk games, you’ll probably spend a good amount of time completing the Career mode. Playing this mode unlocks extra secrets, too, including a whole new level and secret stages (like Darth Maul!), so there’s plenty of incentive to play through as each skater.

Newcomers will be daunted by the complexity of THPS3; it uses almost every button on the PS2 controller. Fortunately, the game has a nice tutorial mode for those who don’t know a manual from a buntslide grind. Even so, the only way to master the game is to play the game A LOT and that’s the biggest strength of THPS3. It has so much depth you could spend weeks mastering trick combos and exploring each stage to find the best path for racking up your score.

The multiplayer mode of Tony Hawk offers up a lot of fun for those looking to show up their friends. Trick Attack and Free Skate obviously challenge each player to score more points than their opponent. H.O.R.S.E. forces each skater to try to match the other’s trick combo while players must explore each level in Graffiti and King of the Hill modes to best their opponent. THPS3 only supports two players, but PS2 owners can take their games online using an USB modem.

THPS3s’ graphics are pretty good, but not particularly jaw-dropping. While the skaters animate fluidly and the environments are fairly detailed, there’s very little in the way of eye-catching visual effects. However, any flashy effects would probably be more distracting than entertaining, so it’s forgivable.

THPS3 boasts one of the most diverse soundtracks of any game currently on the market. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Krs-One, and Redman are among the artists contributing to this title. It’s mostly first-rate stuff, and you can disable any songs you don’t like or turn off the music altogether and blast your own tunes.

Overall, Tony Hawk 3 improves upon the already excellent gameplay of its predecessors to provide players with hours of fun. Even if you own the two previous installments, you’ll appreciate the improvements the developers have made to this sequel, not to mention the expanded levels and improved graphics that the next-gen systems bring. THPS3 is coming to the X-Box in March.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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