are sore and my hands ache. These are good pains, though, caused by
playing Tony Hawks Pro Skater 4 for hours on end. From the moment I put
the game into my PS2 and the intro video started, I have enjoyed every
second I have spent with THPS4. Lay your fears about this game to rest.
It isnt too easy; it isnt too short, and it definitely isnt just a
rehash of THPS3. Tony Hawks Pro Skater 4 is the best game in the series
and is sure to make gamers everywhere very happy.
first start playing the game, the biggest change youll notice is that
the two-minute time limit has finally gone the way of the dodo. Now you
start each level in a free skate mode and must go up to various people
marked with giant flashing arrows over their heads in order to start a
challenge. Each goal has a different time limit. Some goals give you two
minutes and some give you just a few seconds to complete the task.
various challenges you face borrow some objectives from the previous
THPS games such as getting the S-K-A-T-E letters in each level or
reaching certain high scores, but most of the objectives are completely
new. Youll capture lions and a monkey at the zoo, wallride buses in
London, and even save a painter from a shark attack in San Francisco. In
each level you also have to collect all of the letters to spell "Combo"
without landing your current combo until you collect all of the letters.
Some of my favorite challenges in the game are those that require you to
perform tricks and combos as they are called out. This is easier than it
sounds, but there is still something satisfying about pulling off a long
combo string or hitting every trick on the first try. There are also
competitions on each level rather than having specific levels dedicated
to competitions, as was the case in the previous THPS games. When you
complete a challenge, it is completed for all of the skaters. No more
playing through the game 20+ times to unlock everything. There are 190
goals in the game, but the real fun doesnt begin until you have
completed 90 of them.
you finish 90 of the goals, a harder set of goals opens up on each level
as well as the pro challenges. The pro challenges are unique to each
skater and tie in to each skaters actual career. Tony Hawks pro
challenge has you clearing huge gaps between vert ramps while at the
same time performing specific tricks. Steve Caballeros pro challenge is
a doubles vert run with BMX rider Ric Thorne where timing as well as
doing the right tricks is important. Chad Muskas pro challenge combines
his musical and skating careers, as you have to perform tricks in order
to rack up points and fill up 8 "beat" bars. An interesting thing about
this challenge is that each type of move produces a different musical
sound. When you beat a skaters pro challenge, you unlock their video.
Overall, the 190 challenges--especially the pro challenges--are just
that, challenging. There is a lot of stuff to do and most of the goals
will require more than just one attempt. THPS4 is a difficult game, but
it is extremely satisfying when after an hour or more of practice and
trying new things, you finally finish a goal. The goals never seem
repetitive and half of the fun in THPS4 is wondering what youre going
to get to do next.
are also a few mini games thrown in here and there that give you
something to do when a certain goal is starting to frustrate you. Tennis
isnt very fun because the ball is hard to see sometimes, and your
character is too fast and twitchy to really be effective. The home run
contest at Alcatraz is pretty fun, and you actually get a little bit of
cash for smacking a few dingers here. At the zoo, there are a couple of
things you can try. You can dodge poo that three naughty little monkeys
throw at you, or you can catch eggs from three careless birds sitting on
a high wire. There are a few other mini games, but most of them arent
too great. Overall, it was a nice thought to try and bring a little more
variety to the game, but Im happy enough just skating around.
great option in THPS4 is that you are able to quickly restart a goal
rather than having to go looking for a particular pedestrian again. You
can also view a list of goals for each level and can jump directly to
any goal at any time provided you talked to that person already. You
can also set custom restart points in each level, so if you are trying
to master a certain trick line, you can quickly jump back to the start
and try it again.
you beat a goal, you receive a little bit of money and occasionally you
get a stat point. The stat points will apply to all of the characters,
so dont worry about having to mess with them too much. The money you
get for completing a goal, as well as the money you collect by picking
up cash icons throughout the levels, can be spent on a large number of
unlockable items. New decks, clothing, movies, cheats, and two levels
are available for purchase.
are also four secret characters you can buy. Worth mentioning only
because of his impact on certain goals and not just because I like to
spoil things for people is that Jango Fett from Star Wars Episode 2 is
in the game. One of his special moves is he uses his jet pack for a
little extra height. This means potentially higher combo scores and a
little bit of extra oomph when you are trying to reach a high area. This
ability makes some things in the game quite a bit easier, but it is up
to you whether you choose to take advantage of it or not.
order to finish many of the goals, you have to take advantage of the new
moves available in Tony Hawks Pro Skater 4. First off, you can now grab
onto the back of passing cars, motorcycles, buses, and even an elephant
and be pulled along and build up much more speed than was ever possible
before. Some goals require you to skitch, as its called, to build up
speed for big tricks or simply to see how long you can hold on. Another
new ability is the spine transfer. The spine transfer allows your skater
to go up one side of a quarter pipe and down the other as well as get
out of bowls and halfpipes easier. It also acts as a rescue move when
you fly out of a halfpipe. If you find yourself flying too far off of a
ramp, you can hold the spine transfer button to reorient your skater so
theyll land on their feet. You can even manual out of it and continue
moves have been slightly modified to give you even more ways to rack up
big combos. Grab tricks can be modified with a second press of the grab
button. This will tweak that grab or even produce a completely new
trick. The flatland tricks are back from THPS3, but they are normal
moves this time. There is even a competition in the London level where
you have to do flatland tricks. I have found that there is nothing more
satisfying than to stick some flatland tricks into the middle of a long
combo. It really allows you to take advantage of every aspect of
skateboarding street, flatland, and vert in order to rack up huge
amounts of points. The wild and exaggerated special moves are back and
are even more over the top. Lets just say there are ferrets, fireworks,
basketballs, and even a jet pack involved. Special grinds will have your
skater playing a guitar and much more.
levels in THPS4 are much bigger than anything we have seen before in the
THPS series. Not only are they much bigger, but the levels are more
realistically laid out than in previous games. No longer is there a
quarter pipe against every wall or an empty pool located conveniently in
the middle of the level. A lot of the levels in THPS4 lean towards the
street side of skating. Dont get scared by that statement, though. Some
levels have more vert stuff than others, and there is usually at least
one section of the level dedicated to a series of quarter pipes, but if
you want to really take advantage of everything THPS4 has to offer, you
have to learn how to work the curbs and coping. Of course, as any skater
knows, the real world does not come complete with giant halfpipes and
pools just waiting to be skated out in the middle of the town square, so
the levels in THPS4 are definitely more realistically designed than
anything weve seen before.
are nine levels in the game, seven of which you unlock as you play
through the game and two that you have to buy, but there are a few
levels that arent that good. The best levels are probably The College,
San Francisco, Kona, and the Zoo. They are all fairly well rounded and
have a lot of good trick lines to take advantage of. The worst level in
the game is definitely the Shipyard. Not only is it the worst level in
the game but possibly the worst level in the entire series. Good trick
lines are few and far between and the goals you have to complete just
arent as imaginative or as fun as the other levels. Not to mention the
fact that there is a lot of water at the Shipyard and you are going to
fall into it a whole lot. The other levels at Alcatraz, London, a
carnival, and the Chicago level from Mat Hoffmans Pro BMX 2 arent too
bad but they arent fantastic either.
Create-a-Skater and park creator modes are back and better than ever.
There are a lot more pieces to use in the park creator and you can
resize the park to your liking. You cant change the elevation as much
as you could in THPS3, but it is easy enough to work around. The
Create-a-Skater mode has even more options for shirts and pants and all
that, but now you can also change the size of your skaters arms, legs,
hands, feet, head, chest, and more. Once again, you can make both male
and female skaters. These modes add a lot of replay value to a game that
youll already be playing for months.
not much has changed since THPS3--slightly better textures and
everything looks a bit smoother. The animation is simply amazing, but I
wouldnt expect less from the THPS series. The graphics look good and
get the job done, but dont expect big changes from the last game.
sound in THPS4 has had a few improvements, however. All of the games
goals are given to you in full audio. The skaters recorded a lot of
voice work for the game, but some of the lines sound kind of flat and
unenthusiastic. The other characters, particularly Ollie the Magic Bum,
are absolutely hilarious. The skaters also recorded moans and groans and
screams so that now each skater has a different yell when you bail. The
sounds of skating, as always, sound good.
music in THPS4 is also pretty good. AC/DCs "TNT" is the track that
plays during the intro, and the way the video is edited to match the
music is pretty slick. The usual mix of hip-hop, punk, and hard rock
tracks is present, but there are a lot more songs this time--thirty-five
tracks, including songs by System of a Down, U.S. Bombs, The Sex
Pistols, NWA, and Run DMC (RIP Jam Master Jay -- Ed.). Some of the
hip-hop tracks are ok, but I was quick to shut most of them off in the
play list. Im a metal head at heart, though. There is enough variety in
the tracks overall to have something that appeals to everyone, and that
really is the point behind putting so much music in the game.
think it is worth emphasizing the challenge that THPS4 offers. The pro
challenges are extremely hard, for the most part, and the time it takes
to master each one can actually be measured in hours. The normal goals
range from extremely easy to ridiculously hard, but none of them are too
frustrating. It will take you a long time to complete all 190 goals,
collect all of the cash, and clear all of the gaps. Overall, the game is
far more difficult than any other game in the series, but series
veterans will be able to figure everything out eventually.
Hawks Pro Skater 4 is a great game. It is easily the best game in the
series and stands as one of the must own games on the PS2 (or any other
system it appears on). The game is much longer and much more challenging
than any of the previous games in the series. 190 unique challenges,
plus a handful of mini games, as well as new moves to master and high
scores to beat, THPS4 will keep you busy for a long time. Just about
everything in this game is perfect and it is an absolute blast to play.
My only complaint is that the level designs are a bit weak compared to
the rest of the THPS series. Realistic level designs are fine, but try
to make them more like College and San Francisco and less like Shipyard
next time. Ok, Neversoft? Tony Hawks Pro Skater 4 is a fun and
challenging game that virtually everyone will enjoy.
slightly different note, I want to address the whining I have had to put
up with regarding the THPS series over the last year. Certain mainstream
magazines and websites decided to bash the THPS series a bit and say it
was getting stale, and they were just rehashing the same ideas over and
over gain. Gullible readers bought this rant hook, line, and sinker and
suddenly the Tony Hawks Pro Skater series was no longer "cool". If
getting new levels, new tricks, new special abilities, and a completely
revamped solo player experience gives you a feeling of deja vu, then
just about every game on the market is a rehash and every series must be
getting stale. The THPS series has added more to the "extreme sports"
genre and to videogames in general than just about any other modern
franchise. The series has managed to be innovative even in its fourth
installment, but most importantly it is a lot of fun to play. Give me
ten new levels, some fresh tunes, and a wealth of extras to unlock, and
Ill be playing the Tony Hawks Pro Skater series for a long time to
come. Good luck with another year of complaining about the THPS series.
Ill be waiting patiently for Tony Hawks Pro Skater 5.