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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 Package Art
 GENRE
  Extreme-Sports
 DEVELOPER
  Neversoft
 PUBLISHER
  Activision
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1-2
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3

Since the launch of Pokémon, Nintendo Co. Limited’s president Hiroshi Yamauchi has said on many occasions that the future of gaming relies on collecting, nurturing, and trading. Had he played Tony Hawk, he would likely say games should be composed of competition, collecting, nurturing (as in training), and exploration. Such qualities have been apparent in most Nintendo classics, and are put to full effect in Activision’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3.

visuals

It is obvious that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 is the first Tony Hawk game developed for next-generation platforms. Squinting makes skaters look entirely lifelike, and the courses are possibly the largest and best looking areas to be seen on a next-generation console. The Los Angeles level has buildings to enter, stair rails, curbs, a fire truck, building cliffs to reach, and even modern art statues to add to the detail. All this is visible while police cars and other vehicles race down the street. Every level seems alive because the scenery often exists for its own purpose, yet reacts to the player’s actions as well.

One example is in the game’s cruise ship level. Sure there may be models tanning, but at the same time, they’re there to comment on the player’s moves. And they won’t leave until they’re impressed.

Another nice "next-generation" addition to this title is the videos. There’s plenty of FMV in this title, from unlocked skate videos to Neversoft home videos in the game’s closing credits.

However, it’s also very apparent that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 is a quick port. To make a holiday 2002 release, Activision must have rushed the title out, because despite better hardware, the GameCube edition looks worse than the PS2’s edition. While I haven’t found evidence to support the washed out textures some reviewers have claimed, the framerate does drop to 20 fps at rare occasions. The PS2 version does not suffer from this framerate issue.

The unlockable videos are also highly compressed, and are running in one of the worst video formats seen in a video game since the halftime show of NBA Jam. Activision had to compress the video to fit on GameCube’s smaller disc (compared to PS2’s); it’s just too bad the format had to look so bad. Still, it’s far better than cutting the video from the title altogether.

The multi-player also suffers a low framerate, but nothing that hinders gameplay at all.

audio

Especially with the extra power of GameCube, it’s been a disappointing launch in terms of audio. However, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 excels in the audio department, just as much as this excellent game does in other categories.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 features twenty-one music tracks! If that wasn’t impressive enough, the team made sure that the twenty-one real songs, performed by real bands, is varied enough to fit all music interests. Sure, players can listen to Redman, Xzibit, and House of Pain, but at the same time they can check out the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alien Ant Farm, and Zebrahead. Even the Ramones’s "Blitzkrieg Bop" is thrown in for good measure. Yet the developers took it even further and allowed the playlist to be customized. If the gamer hates rap, all that’s required is a few seconds with the playlist editor to cancel those songs.

Neversoft also took the sound effects to another level. Of course the grinding, landing, and falling sounds are all there, but now the environments have their own sound effects. Turn off the music and skate around to realize that the escalators make their own sounds, as does the engine of the cruise ship and the cars of Los Angeles. Terrain surfaces also have their own unique sounds when skated over, and nature-friendly environments such as Canada are filled the chirps of the area’s wildlife. Don’t be surprised if guests glance outside your window when airplanes take off in the airport level.

gameplay

Pro Skater 3 runs on a simple yet deep gameplay engine where the player performs moves in the air or on ground objects. New to this edition of the franchise is the revert move, which allows the player to hit "R" after landing a half-pipe, then pull into a manual combo and perform another stunt-- either off the half-pipe or into a grind. By performing the revert, players can link moves together and thus get a far higher score. High scores are necessary to unlock new areas.

Neversoft made grinding easier in this game, and now players can grind on objects such as rails or benches to receive millions of points. Such a score takes practice, but it shows how the engine has changed from previous editions, which had far lower scores. By taking advantage of the revert move after stunts on a half-pipe, players can also receive higher scores, especially when finishing a combo with some grinds.

The controls have also been polished, and GameCube’s controller is put to excellent use. The location of the Y button allows the gamer to press both A and Y, which makes grinding a lot easier, as the gamer must jump with A and grind with Y. Fans of the Playstation and N64 versions will remember having to reach their index fingers on their control pad to hit the triangle button and C-Up button respectively while grinding. Now, the index fingers can stay where they belong, on R and L, to rotate the skater.

Getting back to the introduction of this review, Activision has proved that a good game is composed of competition, collecting, nurturing (as in training), and exploration. Pro Skater 3’s career mode requires the player to collect items in each level, train the character and improve his or her stats, explore for secrete areas of each level, and compete against other computer players. Throughout each level are letters that spell "SKATE," and spinning icons called Stat Points. These must be found to advance to later levels. Each level also features challenges such as impressing spectators, grinding certain obstacles, and reaching certain areas.

Without exploring the levels, it would be impossible to finish the game. By finding the items, completing the challenges, and gaining high scores, the player is given points to improve his or her skater. An improved skater makes it easier to reach future goals, and also helps out in multi-player matches, where advantages are always key.

multiplayer

This highly addictive feature makes Pro Skater 3 worth its price alone. Composed of several modes: graffiti, trick attack, horse, slap!, king of the hill, and free skate, players can compete for hours without ever getting bored. Every level is available for play once unlocked, but multiplayer is limited to only two players. The various modes are essentially competitions for score or games of tag, yet they’re very entertaining and will have gamers staying up late on a nightly basis. Like the showy one-on-one games of basketball kids constantly play, two-player skating is about pulling off the “coolest” move, racking up the most points, and proving who truly is the best.

overall

There’s so little that’s wrong with this title. There are no games that can rival Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, and with every edition comes better gameplay, smoother control, and improved graphics.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 is a big step up from THPS2, and with GameCube’s currently limited library, it’s a game everyone should give a try. With an excellent one-player mode, addictive multiplayer mode, diverse soundtrack, and unlockable videos, courses, and even a secret skater (wouldn’t you love to know), Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 has been labeled "The Perfect Game" by several press outlets. While it may be a bit weaker than the PS2 edition, it’s a title that deserves your attention, and your time. Open up to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3; it’s one of the best titles on Nintendo GameCube.

final score 9.3/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Bryan Cashman
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"Road? Where we're going, we don't need roads."


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