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by Activision

sim-tonyhawk3-0001-01.jpg (5831 bytes)Yeah, yeah, I know – why so many THPS3 reviews? Well, that’s what happens when games get released on all platforms and each one rocks. Rocks hard. Like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, which is possibly the hardest rocking of all the THPS titles so far. As I mentioned in my review for the PS2 version, this game is just as addictive and satisfying as previous installments. In fact, it’s better.

sim-tonyhawk3-0005-01.jpg (5954 bytes)At this point in time, you should have a good idea of how the gameplay works. If not, check out reviews of the PC, PS2 or GBA versions, or even reviews of THPS2x, THPS2, or the original THPS, all of which have been reviewed on our site in the past. In short, the game is all about skating around different levels, completing goals and pulling off tricks. If that doesn’t sound fun to you, then you’re probably one of the few who don’t love THPS (Jeff, I’m looking at you…). At this point in time, after three years of cooing and harping about how great THPS and all things Pro Skater are, those skeptics are getting pretty fed up with us avid fans.

sim-tonyhawk3-0004-01.jpg (6426 bytes)Once, THPS pulled in gamers from across the spectrum. The original title was incredibly fun and offered a whole new level of control and playability for these burgeoning "extreme sports games." As number two came out, a few of those mainstream people said, "What do I want to manual for? I just want to fly high and get new boards." And as number three has come out, even more of the non-fans have wondered, "What do I need a revert for? And is it as much fun to play THPS online as Quake or Unreal?" These types of skeptical responses to the third in the series are understandable. The THPS series gets a lot of its appeal from providing a complex control system that is finely textured and infinitely variable. If you aren’t "into" getting good at controls like these, then you probably won’t enjoy the game. And although THPS3 supports online multiplayer in nearly all of its incarnations, you don’t kill anyone or blow anything up. That eliminates many online gamers who thrive on death and destruction. I’m not saying that thriving on death and destruction is a bad thing, and I’m not saying it’s a good thing. I am saying that I’ve heard people say, "I don’t want to just beat my friend at skateboarding. I want to blow him up!"

sim-tonyhawk3-0002-01.jpg (6460 bytes)So if you’ve ever been skeptical about the THPS series, then you’ll probably be skeptical about THPS3. That’s OK, we don’t want you in our skatepark anyway. On the other hand, if your love of the series has not been diminished, then THPS3 has a whole buttload of great things to offer. The most significant addition is the revert move, which makes it possible to link entire runs together. THPS3 afficianados no longer talk in hundreds of thousands of points per level, they say things like, "Have you got two?" "Yeah, man, I’ve gotten three and a half." That’s millions of points being discussed in the example. How can you get millions of points? Spend a minute and a half completing your 80 trick combo.

sim-tonyhawk3-0008-01.jpg (6721 bytes)The Xbox version of the game is basically like every other version. It sports the same modes and features. The graphics don’t look any better than the PS2 version, which was disappointing, but they are less glitchy. While the PS2 version sports some minor glitches that caused me to twitch, the Xbox runs silky smooth. The Xbox version also supports online multiplayer, using the GameSpy Tunnel and Arcade programs, as well as custom soundtracks. You can now play THPS to your own music (because we can only handle so much Motorhead in our lives), which makes the game even more addictive.

sim-tonyhawk3-0003-01.jpg (7235 bytes)In the Xbox version you unlock a slightly different, but mostly the same, array of extra characters and levels as you complete the game with different skaters. Darth Maul, Wolverine, Ollie the Magic Bum, and the Demoness are some of the extra characters. Secret levels, playable in multiplayer or free skate modes, include the Oil Rig as well as the Warehouse and Roswell from THPS1.

sim-tonyhawk3-0007-01.jpg (7302 bytes)In every other way, THPS3 is consistent across all of the platforms it inhabits. It is a brilliant game that exhibits the highest quality of design, control, interface, and gameplay. This is undoubtedly one of the best game series of all time, and is the only game that will always suck me into a session longer than I planned. I have no idea how some people can look at THPS3 and not feel the need to pick it up. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 is another title that should be in every videogame collection.

Shawn Rider   (04/24/2002)


Ups: Amazing gameplay; excellent control; custom soundtrack; online multiplayer.

Downs: None to report, sir.

Platform: Xbox