The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games are legend and created an entire genre, which is why someone wants to make a documentary about them.
Trussed-up skateboarding revival Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD will offer classic levels from the third entry in the series as post-launch DLC, developer Robomodo has announced.
Neversoft Publisher Activision Pro Tony Hawk's back. This time he's popped his head up on the Xbox, and this new version of the game has been upgraded here and there to give Tony Hawk fans a little more incentive to check it out than the Cube version released in the States last year. Tony's third game makes several departures from its predecessor and also features a collection of new tracks and of course an array of real skaters to choose from including the eponymous Hawkster himself, each equipped with an arsenal of signature moves. The graphics have received their seasonal update, but the touch of sparkle promised Xbox owners is absent. Grass was meant to become more than a mere texture, swaying slightly in the wind as you skated past it, but apparently (despite stealing a few seconds of film on a recent Xbox mag coverdisk) it was cut to keep the frame rate up. Regardless, as with the PS2 and Cube versions, each of the skaters is superbly drawn, modelled and animated, and the tracks are full of neat visual effects and intricately detailed. Virtually every edge can be used to grind with plenty of jumps and half pipes and of course all the usual level goals - collecting S-K-A-T-E, the secret tape and racking up high scores. Themed goals feature prominently too, with skaters racing to take out a handful of pickpockets in the Airport, and squashing pumpkins in Suburbia. Tricks are as easy to perform as ever, and the control system maps surprisingly well to the Xbox controller, although I reckon Controller S with its spaced out diamond will be a better bet. The tutorial (including Tony's cringeworthy voiceover) clears up all the important stuff for beginners, and instructions for performing the big tricks can be accessed in-game and assigned to different button combinations. With each level the high score goals become harder to attain, but thanks to the skill points scattered throughout each level you can upgrade your skater's abilities before it becomes a problem, from ollying and grinding to grabs and catching air, and these attributes make a big difference to the outcome of each two minute run. Bump n' Grind Some of the game's levels invite you to show off for three one-minute rounds and have your performance scored according to the panel of skater judges. These levels form stumbling blocks in the single player game, with a minimum bronze medal required to unlock the next level and tough competition. No amount of goals on the previous levels can be employed to help bypass these obstacles, and the challenge sets you up nicely for the trickier levels thereafter. New to the Xbox version of the game is an Oilrig level, which posed a challenge even for my Tony Hawk addicted friends, who - being mostly of the student variety - cannot afford to shell out required cash to buy their own Xbox. That said, THPS3 doesn't really constitute a killer app for Xbox, but then these people often defy logic… Perhaps the most important thing the Xbox can offer Tony Hawk fans is the ability to customize the game's soundtrack. Rip a few of your favourite songs to the Xbox hard disk before you play and you can kick some of the less inspired tunes on Hawk's soundtrack to the curb, replacing them with your own blockbusting beats. If not, you'll find plenty of skatey tunes in rap, punk and a handful of other genres. Artists like Alien Ant Farm and the Red Hot Chili Peppers make their mark, but it's a bit hit and miss. In terms of the quality of the port, THPS3 is unmatched, even on the already port-ridden European Xbox launch line-up. If you've bought an Xbox and are looking for something familiar to get your teeth stuck into, you could do a lot worse. The PlayStation 2 version is no cheaper, and the Cube version (obviously not yet released in Europe) is a level lighter and a mite uglier to boot. Even the vaunted GameCube load times are about the same as those witnessed on the Xbox, and with level data caching to the hard disk you'll find the process of repeating those crucial first few seconds of each level a less arduous and disjointed task. Although much smoother than its counterparts on other consoles, THPS3 Xbox outing does slow occasionally, dropping below the staple 60 fps at the start of levels more often than not. Load times are generally good though, and the interface is reassuringly slick. A fully featured skater and skate park editor seal the package. Conclusion Execution is one of the strongest aspects of Neversoft's games, and THPS3 is no exception. Indeed, this is definitely the slickest and more desirable Hawk to date. Long-standing fans of the series may demand more, but for skating virgins there is no finer game, and ultimately, there isn't much about Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 to deride. So we won't bother. - Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 PS2 review 8
Neversoft Publisher Activision A Familiar Face Ah yes, our old friend Tony. It hasn't been long since the last time we paid a visit to the realm of the King of Skating, yet Neversoft seem perfectly able to knock these things out in cookie-cutter fashion now. With Tony Hawk's third title in the immensely popular Pro Skater series, his PS2 debut feels like the license was custom-made for the platform. While the Tony Hawk's games are easily the most addictive, playable skating games available to date, you'd be forgiven for noting that the more recent releases have been fairly devoid of innovation and rarely strayed from the formula established in the first game. THPS3 is such an example of wheel re-invention, with eight new levels (plus hidden bonuses) and obviously improved graphics being the only immediately obvious differences. The main portion of the game is, of course, the career mode. This takes place across the aforementioned eight levels spanning some bizarre locales, including a steel works and a cruise liner. The aim remains the same; complete as many tasks on the checklist as possible in order to advance and unlock more levels. It's a simple concept that has remained unchanged since the original, yet Neversoft seem confident they can milk the idea to great effect. Mmm, Spectating Girls The variety of locations and the wonderfully imaginative level design is what sets the Tony Hawk's series apart from all the other pretenders to the crown, and the massive increase in power offered by the PS2 has resulted in far larger and more intricately detailed environments than ever before. The areas you find yourself skating in are far more densely populated now, as well, making each level feel more real. The player is also occasionally forced into a skating competition. These come very early on and can bring utter frustration as you struggle to finish third just to continue the game. The judges seem to demand that you master a deeper level of control which you just don't get the chance to develop at such an early stage. The same skaters from the previous games appear here again and each character has their own set of special skills, moves and personal statistics. By the time you've played through much of the game, it's entirely possible that the character will be practically unrecognisable from their original skill set. This is thanks to a decent level of character development; as you gain points through level and goal completion, you're able to spend stat points on any skill area you choose. You must rely on building and developing your skills throughout the game to complete tasks such as impressing spectating girls or other skaters, and gaining access to previously unreachable areas by improving your character's statistics on other levels. This lends the game a nice seamless feel, as opposed to a linear progression, as you hop from level to level to complete the checklists. Dress-Me-Up Tony A lot of effort has gone into creating a good deal of replayability within THPS3, and once the career mode is done and dusted (which admittedly won't take series veterans long), the level of customisation features are impressive for a console game. First of all we have the Create-A-Skater function, which offers a stupid level of input into exactly how you would like your skater to look. Dressing Tony up in an almost Barbie-like fashion sent me back to my perhaps disturbed but joyful childhood. There's also a massive collection of different deck designs scattered throughout the game for your to find and unlock in the "skate shop" front-end. But the coup de grace of the game's customising utilities has to be the skate park designer. This made a debut appearance in THPS2, but the sheer scale of the possibilities available to the player here is astounding. The canvas is absolutely enormous and the construction of your dream park couldn't be simpler. The more ludicrous the better - loop-the-loop anyone? When you really dig deep though, there isn't a great deal new here. It's certainly going to be an absolutely stunning play for newcomers, but players used to what the series has to offer may feel slightly cheated. The cosmetic changes, such as streaking blood across the floor when your skater bails and vastly improved level design possibilities are all very well and good, but you can't help but wish for something more. Is That It? A reminder of how little effort there has been in expanding the playing modes is obvious in the multiplayer options. The exact same split-screen action is on offer here as in THPS2, with the same playing modes. Of course, it could be argued that the inclusion of network play into the package is the excuse for the lack of innovation here, yet anything on offer here is less than enticing. There are two network-exclusive modes, neither of which are particularly inspiring. Slap! is a simplistic version of chicken, where each skater hurtles towards each other and the fastest skater wins by knocking the other over. King of the Hill sets the players fighting over a crown, and then seeing how long they can keep hold of it. While Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 is a super game in its own right, I can't help but feel it isn't a significant enough step forward for the series. It's definitely unrivalled in speed, scale and sheer excitement, but there's a lack of innovation that taints the experience from start to finish. Don't rest on your laurels, Neversoft. 8