Review by Evil Insane
"Hey ho! Letís go (skateboarding)!"
There was a time, back in Nam, when skating was an underground sport, practised only by teenagers who are probably partaking in narcotics, underage alcoholism and loitering in alleys with other drink-and-drug-taking youngsters, doing little jumps over toppled-over bins and falling on their silly behinds and laughing about it. Then, that image was smashed by a game based on a real a guy who was definitely not a teenager, who didn't (openly) abuse substances, and moved from the alley out onto the street to do kickflips there. This man was Tony Hawk. The game was Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.
Since 1999, Tony has been taking part in an increasingly-good series of games revolving around his obscure job of professional skateboarding. This, the third in the line, is the best yet.
Story? What story? I don't even think that they attempted to make sense of the game by adding a plot. The premise of the game is to fulfill goals within the different levels. Doing this unlocks more levels and more goals, until you, eventually, unlock all the levels and complete the game. Really, that's it. Classic arcade-style game playing: play for the fun of it.
The gameplay, predictably, revolves around skateboarding. But, rather than filling the levels up with silly goals like Annoy old ladies and Scrape your knee, they have such variations as high scores, impressing fellow skaters, collect video tapes, destroy a freeway, trick over certain areas and break into haunted houses.
Rolling up a ramp launches you into the air, and tapping a few buttons executes a trick. Jumping onto a railing allows you to grind along it. Tapping a few more buttons makes you manual (a type of skateboard-wheelie), and with this, you can link different chains of air, rail, lip and street tricks together to get higher combos. Whenever you successfully pull off a few tricks without messing up and falling, your Special Meter shoots up, allowing you to pull off even better and higher-scoring tricks.
As well as new tricks added to the game, a new maneuver has been added the Revert. This slide means that whenever you bust an air trick off a quarter-pipe, you can revert to continue the combo. This means you can pop a high-scoring trick, revert into a manual and continue that combo up another quarter pipe, or onto a rail or whatever you want.
The levels themselves are varied and different, ranging from Canada to Tokyo, Suburbia to an Airport. Each level has its own distinct style and goals, and in each run, you have two minutes in which to complete as many goals as possible. You can also collect different decks for your skateboard, and stats with which you can upgrade your skater's skills. Each skater is either a vert or street skater, and the goals for each level change accordingly. Vert skaters are more into their jumps, lips and high grabs, whereas street skaters prefer grinds, manuals and flips.
As well as the free-run levels, there are also competition levels, wherein you have to impress the judges by doing the best set of tricks you can in the space of a minute. The levels, although varied and filled with different areas for you to skate, grind, jump and trick off, aren't that large, testing your skills on the limited space, as opposed to your exploratory skills. This is just as well, seeing as you only have two minutes per run.
There is an excellent Create-A-Skater mode, in which you have an immense collection of different clothes, hair styles, tricks and decks to choose from to create your own skater to play the game with. Also included is a Create-A-Park mode where you create your own skate park to play about in.
The graphics were, at the time, some of the best-looking graphics ever seen on any console, and they still hold their own, even today. The levels, although small and sparsely populated, are very well presented, everything looks round and shiny and there is barely a sharp edge that isn't placed there specifically for you to smash your cranium off. The smaller levels allow for larger polygon count on the skaters and everyone looks like their real-life counterpart. Well, almost everyone.
Whenever your unfortunate skater falls, the blood he or she releases smears over the ground, which, although disconcerting, is a nice addition. The fall animations are pretty funny, and when added with the crunches and cracks, make you wince for your poor little computerized punk.
The music is excellent, a mix of rap, punk rock and alternative. Although some songs might not be to everyone's liking, it contains crowd-pleasers like The Ramones Blitzkrieg Bop, CKY 96 Quite Bitter Beings and Motorhead Ace of Spades. The skaters themselves let out a selection of grunts and squeals of pain when you brutally break their legs off a high jump. Your bones and, frequently, your face, make crunching noises when they make contact with the ground. The pedestrians within the levels yell different things as you roll past, mostly comments on your skating style. Although not brimming with sound, it's fitting considering the title and its content.
All the menus are set out within a Skate-Shop, clearly showing the different parts of the Shop (Create-A-Skater, Free Run, etc.). In-game menus are simple affairs, and, overall, the menus are easy to navigate and figure out. Some of the game's goals aren't described well enough, and sometimes, to complete them, it's a matter of guessing what to do and doing it until you, by chance, complete the goal. Annoying, but a minor issue.
The controls are excellent. The A button makes you jump, the B button executes flip tricks, the X button executes grab tricks. The Y button allows you to rail slide and do lip tricks. The R button pops a revert. The analogue stick moves your skater, but it's easier using the D-Pad, especially during balancing in grinds or manuals.
Extra features 6/10
The game contains a number of extras including cheats, extra levels and extra characters. Each time you complete the game fully, you unlock a pro video, featuring the skater that you completed the game on. Completing the game fully with each character unlocks more, and completing it with them unlocks more cheats and such, so you'll have to finish the game a good few times to get everything out of it.
Play Time 8/10
Well, it takes a while clean two or three hours to complete the game with one character, so multiply that by the amount of characters available and you have what? twenty or so hours, maybe more, if you're not as good as me. Ahem.
If you want to unlock everything, it'll take you ages. If you just want to play through the levels and get the extra skaters, a little less, but you still get about ten or so hours out of it before you begin to get bored.
The multiplayer is also pretty cool, with HORSE still being the best game to play to show off in front of your friends.
Buy or rent? 5/10
I'd say buy, just cos it's a good game to play either in the long run, or for short sessions. Although you could easily get through one game by renting it, you'll need to buy it to complete it 100%
Overall, it's a great game, one of the best launch titles for the Gamecube, and a fine title in a fine series of games.
Percentage: (The separate scores added together) 68%
Score out of ten: (Rounded to the nearest whole number) 7/10
GameFAQs score: (Not an average) 8/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 01/05/06
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