Review By: Nick
Card, Network Adaptor
Hawk series has revolutionized the extreme sports genera.
However, the series seemed to become stagnant by the third
installment. The innovation seemed to die. In fact, games like Aggressive
Inline actually took innovative strides past the Tony Hawk
series by adding in different gameplay styles that made the game
more fun. Not to be outdone, the fourth installment of the Tony
Hawk series brings back the innovation to the series and
completely raises the bar that all other extreme sport games
will try to reach.
style has been completely changed. Instead of getting two
minutes to attempt goals in a level, players can skate around
and activate goals at will. In other words, you have unlimited
time in the levels. If you do not complete a goal, you do not
have to go through all the menus. You simply just pause the game
and restart the goal from a provided checklist. Each individual
goal still has a time limit, but being able to explore levels
without a time pressure actually makes the game less
frustrating. Most of the goals may seem familiar. Traditional
favorites (or un-favorites) like collection S-K-A-T-E and
racking up high scores return. We also see new challenges like
collecting C-O-M-B-O (collect all the letters in one combo) and
other level-specific challenges. One major change that many will
notice is in the Career Mode. Instead of having to perform the
same challenges over and over with the 14 pros, you only have to
do them once. Before you say this is too easy, there is a catch.
Neversoft has added "Pro Challenges" to the career
mode. Each pro skater has their own specific challenge found on
one of the stages. These challenges are more difficult than the
regular ones and have some sort of relation to a feat done by
that pro in real life. For example, Tony Hawkís Pro Challenge
takes place on a rooftop. You have to pull tricks over a roof
gap. After each series of tricks, the gap becomes larger and the
tricks become harder until finally ending with performing
special tricks such as the famed 900 over a huge gap. Bam
Margeraís Pro Challenge is a take on one of his stunts from
MTVís Jackass. He rides a shopping cart down a hill, then
rides it down with hurdles and finally rides it down slalom
style. By performing these challenges, you unlock the proís
video. Secret skaters, levels and cheat codes are unlocked at
the Skate shop by collecting money throughout the stages or by
performing the challenges. If the initial list of goals looks
short, donít worry. You eventually unlock more goals to
complete after a certain percentage of the game is completed.
New to the
series are mini-games. Several stages have certain points in
them where you can activate a mini-game to earn money. In the
college stage, you can play tennis using your board as a racket.
In San Francisco, you mash the buttons on your controller to
save sea lions from a shark. There are more, but Iíll let you
discover them for yourselves. Whatís the reward for playing
these games? You get cash. Each game has a limited amount of
cash to give out. You can keep playing it to earn some money.
Aside from that, theyíre actually either fun to play or funny
to watch (Zoo...thatís all I have to say).
has also added a few new tricks in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4.
First, the addition of spine transfers allows for some really
interesting trick combinations. In order to do a spine transfer,
you go up a spine ramp and press both triggers while in the air.
You then transfer to the other side. If youíve played
Aggressive Inline, you know the drill because it is pretty much
the same. You can now skitch behind vehicles (much like in Aggressive
Inline). To do this, skate behind a vehicle and press up.
Your skater will grab the back of the vehicle. To stay attached,
you need to watch your balance meter (similar to a grind or
manual). Aside from these new additions and a few, more
spectacular (and unrealistic) special tricks, the trick list is
pretty much the same as the other Tony Hawk games.
Create-a-Skater option has progressed smoothly. Before, the
feature did not seem to actually work in practice because
players were fairly limited in what they could do. Now, the
option resembles the Create-a-Wrestler option present in the
wrestling games of a few years ago. The mode is still further
behind than it should be, but the progressive steps between
games were huge. Hair actually looks right and you can now
tattoo all parts of the body. The one drawback is the clothing.
There are numerous options, but there should be even more
(especially more logos for shirts). Also, hats and helmets
negate long hair. Hopefully Neversoft tweaks this by the next
installment of this series.
have come a long way in this series. It is not really noticeable
at first because the addictive gameplay takes most of your
attention. If you compare this title to the previous three
games, the graphical changes seem to jump out. This is the best
looking extreme sports game out there. Skaters are starting to
resemble their real-life counterparts more closely than before.
Stages are now massive and have people walking around in them.
Besides people, there is also traffic, carnival rides and many
other moving objects that make the world seem more realistic and
fleshed out instead of the closed off feel that most stages in
the previous game had. Of course it doesn't look as good as the
Xbox or GameCube versions, but THPS4 for PS2 holds it's own
may gripe with the soundtrack. While Tony Hawk 3 (and to a
lesser extent Tony Hawk 2) featured a soundtrack made up of
mainstream artists, Tony Hawk 4ís soundtrack consists of bands
that 90% of the people playing may not have heard of.
Regardless, there is a good mix of punk, ska, metal, rap and hip
hop as well as a few tracks recorded by a few of the skaters
featured in the game.
falls short in multiplayer. Sure, they added a few new modes
such as Capture the Flag and Score Challenge, but they are only
good for two players or online games. Some of the better
multiplayer modes are Graffiti (tricks on objects mark it with
your color) and Score Challenge (whoever hits the set score
first wins). The addition of online play in the PS2 version is a
nice one, and in practice it works smoothly and creates a decent
player community. Tony Hawk isn't as suited to online play as a
lot of other games (like sports) are though, so in the end it
isn't that important of an addition. It's still nice to see it,
especially since the Xbox version doesn't feature it (I smell a
value of this game depends on the gamer. Some people can play
the Tony Hawk games for months on end without getting tired of
them, while others shelf them once they finish the goals. If youíve
played other Tony Hawk games, you should have an idea of what to
expect with the replay factor. Remember, this game is not as
repetitive, so you will not get sick of the career mode as
quickly as in the previous games. Even with this in mind, I
found this game just as addictive in the short term but quickly
lost interest when another game hit my desk.
skating in several different gameplay modes
worst looking version of THPS4
Pro Skater 4
proves that a series doesn't have to become stagnant over time.
Apparently the designers saw games like Aggressive Inline
and followed that example, and the result is a welcome step
forward for the series. Throw in the addition of online play, and
this is perhaps the best THPS (for any platform) yet.