Review by KasketDarkfyre

"The Flight of the Hawk still reigns, but for how long?"

Extreme sports games come a dime a dozen now on all of the next generation systems that you find on the market. The most notable series in all of them so far though, is the Tony Hawk series in which you take control of real skateboard athletes and run them through various stages completing goals and learning tricks. While the game series has drawn praise and criticism from gamers both in and out of the genre, there is something to be said for the staying power of a series that has traversed over five different systems and spawned several sequels. In this outing, you have the same game play with added features such as the online competitions, but is there anything really new to the series that is well worth the hard earned money to play?

The Game Play

The game play that you have with Tony Hawk is about as diverse as the actual sport in which tricks and combinations are the king and key of successfully defeating the game. With several different skaters and worldwide locations that range from the realistic to the downright silly, you have the ability to play through with the likes of Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen and Chad Muska. During your quest for the ultimate goals, you must complete 180 different challenges that range from simple scoring combinations to over the top scoring runs that will test both your skills and your patience as a gamer. Once you’ve gotten into the habit of learning just where and when to perform a trick, nothing is beyond your comprehension nor your ability.

Some of the more impressive features that Tony Hawk 4 offers you is the ability to play online and the ability to create your own skaters. With the online play, you have the ability to play with people from across the world in such games as horse and scoring runs, but some of the more impressive play come with games such as King of the Hill and graffiti. The use of the keyboard and the need for the network adapter makes this game one of the more impressive ones in the Play Station 2 online line up, but you might find that getting a good game going with others is hard. Once you’ve exhausted the need to play with others, the concentration on the offline game might make you want to play there a little more often.

Creating your own skater is an ability that has been around since the second Tony Hawk game and really adds a little bit of fun to the overall game. When creating your skater, you can give them whatever tricks you want and make them look any way that you want them to. While this might not seem like anything special, it does have a bit of variety to the online gaming portion of Tony Hawk and can be fun in its own right. The extra added parts that you might look for can be unlocked during the game and you’ll find that the extra skaters also add a little flare to the overall experience.

Control really isn’t much of a problem if you’ve played the game before and those that have never gotten a chance to play this series before the fourth game will find that this title have enough user-friendly control to keep you moving through all of the stages. You’ll find that the tricks are easy to pull off with the grind, jump and grab flips being a simple directional pad press and button combination. Scoring lines are easy enough to do once you’ve figured out how to keep your skater on an even level with the balance meter and you’ll see yourself doing combinations that are impossible and high scoring in no time. Veterans to the series will see that all of the tricks and the abilities that you’ve had since the beginning are here as is the inclusion of the revert and the manual to help with flatland trick combinations.

The Visuals

Visually, Tony Hawk 4 is clean and crisp with plenty of background action going on to keep you interested in what’s happening. All of the tricks and trick combinations are fluid and nice to look at although you might find a bit of a problem with the camera angles at times. The physics with the way that the skaters move and turn as well as twist and contort are all realistic and the crashes as you bail on a move really do have some painful looking animations attached to them. Locations and ramps are all large and expansive and with the correct camera angles, the tricks that take you into the atmosphere look beautiful enough to photograph and keep in a binder.

The Audio

The standard for Tony Hawk has been the inclusion of top name bands to give you some hard rocking music to really keep the pace of the game and the overall theme of the skating world. With some key hits from Chad Muska himself, you have some street rocking bass beats to go along with the hard hitting riffs of Iron Maiden and Flogging Molly. The sound effects are your standard grinding trucks and thuds when you biff into the ground from a high flying trick, but you’ll find that the minimum has been used here to really keep the sound aspect focused on the music. Actual voices of the skaters have been included in the game to give a little more life to the various goals that you have to complete, so there is a little bit of a bonus there for those looking for the realism.

The Verdict

With the inclusion of a couple of secret stages and some wicked secret skaters, Tony Hawk is still one of the best skating games out there. However, even with the inclusion of the more intensive online mode, there are some things that really are starting to show age, such as the essentially same trick list and otherwise. With the extreme gaming becoming more and more intense on other extreme sports, it is starting to show that Tony Hawk is sticking to the same tried and true formula which is a blessing and a curse depending on how you look at it. If you’re a Hawk fan and you love the world of skateboarding, then you’ll find this game to be the top of the heap with the tricks, the challenges and the expansive stages. However, if you’re simply looking for a game that is more than the rest of the pack, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 will be the weekend rental of choice and not a permanent collection piece.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/01/03, Updated 01/01/03

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