If you have played videogames
at all over the past couple of years, odds are youve taken a run or two at Tony
Hawks Pro Skater. The THPS series has consistently scored well in reviews and is
such a successful franchise that it led Activision to create an entire series of Pro
Whatever games Matt Hoffmans Pro BMX, Shaun Palmers Pro Snowboarder,
and Kelly Slaters Pro Surfer and a whole new label, Activisions O2
(Oxygen) line. The other "Pro" titles have been built from the solid premise put
forth in the first THPS, but none of them have quite captured the magic of the original.
Neversoft, the developer of THPS, has achieved a higher level of control, detail, and just
plain fun gameplay, and theyve improved on this in THPS2 as well as the latest
installment in the series, THPS3.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3 is,
for the most part, more of what we expect. The first of the series developed specifically
for a next-generation console, the PS2, it incorporates better graphics and larger levels
as well as some new controls and even more tricks. The short story is that if you are a
fan of the THPS series, you need this game, and if you have yet to be sucked into the
games, this might be the one to do it. Of course, thats the short story. There is
plenty to talk about in this new version of the best skateboarding game ever created.
the THPS pros are back for another round, including the eponymous Tony Hawk, Rune
Glifberg, Steve Caballero, Kareem Campbell, Eric Koston, Bucky Lasek, Rodney Mullen, Chad
Muska, Andrew Reynolds, Geoff Rowley, Elissa Steamer, and Jamie Thomas. New to the game
this time around is the crowd pleasing Bam Margera, well-known as Johnny Knoxvilles
most popular sidekick on the now defunct MTV series, Jackass. Lest skateboarding
outsiders see this as cowtowing to a non-skateboarding audience, allow me to suggest you
check out ESPN2s series, Tony Hawks Gigantic Skatepark Tour, which
featured Margera this summer. Bam is the man, more capable and insane than most other
is very similar to previous installments of the series. You are presented with a set of
goals to achieve in each of the eight levels. Both fantasy and real world levels are
included. The complete lineup is: the Foundry, Canada, Rio, Suburbia, Airport,
Skaters Island, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. As usual, there are three contests to
participate in, and earning golds in each of these competitions is crucial to defeating
the game. Rather than collecting tapes (as in the original game) or money (as in number
two), you simply achieve goals to progress to new levels.
The levels are uniformly excellent, as weve come to expect. The Airport
will have you squealing in glee as you air over metal detectors and grind the heck out of
counters, benches and baggage claims. The Tokyo competition takes place in a skatepark
that is equal parts Space Channel Five and closet Otaku. Levels are more populated,
although still less so than in reality, and you interact with non-player characters more.
For example, in Canada you must unstick Chuck, who has frozen his tongue to a post, and
you must also bury a bully who pummels other kids at the park with snowballs. In LA you
trigger an earthquake and then must rescue (sort of) a car stuck on the crumbling highway.
As weve come to expect, you can air off, grind, slide and otherwise ride just about
every element of the terrain every ledge, rail, step, curb, slope, etc. New in this
installment is the complete removal of any fog or draw-in, which had previously been
necessary to accommodate the large levels on the PSone and previous systems.
skill system has been altered. Rather than buying stats, or just automatically increasing
abilities, you now collect stat points that are scattered across all the levels. These
points are sometimes difficult to acquire, and they fulfill a role similar to the cash in
THPS2 they add a little more to do on each level, even after youve achieved
the other goals. You assign stat points to your skater and can redistribute them at any
time. If youre having trouble making that big air to get a goal, simply reshuffle
your stats and you might make it. The system is an improvement. In THPS2 it was inevitable
that your skater would end the game with all stats maxxed out. Here, you must work with
considerably fewer stat points and development of your skater is slower, making the game
that much more challenging.
addition to changes in the skill system, renovation has been done to the trick system.
Perhaps the most significant change is the addition of the revert, which allows you to
string together series of big airs on ramps, or connect huge ramp tricks to street tricks.
It is now possible, and highly desirable, to land a huge set of tricks off a ramp, revert,
go into a manual, and ride to a rail where you can rack up another set of tricks. This
ability to connect different combos ad infinitum allows you to complete dozens of tricks
in a single combo. Of course, to go along with the revert Neversoft has added a set of
flatland tricks, which means that when you play Rodney Mullen in THPS3 you can actually
skate like Rodney Mullen. Flatland tricks have always been a part of skating, although
they lack the flashy flair and death-defying aspects of big ramp or dangerous street
tricks. However, the finesse involved in flatland tricks is incredible, and they make the
game that much more appealing to skaters and skater wanna-bes who want to recreate every
line theyve ever seen in a video.
value has also been enhanced. It has always been important to complete all goals with all
characters, but now the goals on each level change according to what type of character you
play. The skaters are categorized as either street, vert, or all-around skaters, and each
category differs in a couple of goals on each level. With one type of character you may
have to make a huge jump on a level, while another will have to grind a difficult rail.
The differences are small, but provide more variation than before.
improved this time around are the Create-a-Skater and a much more robust Park Editor. I am
happy to report that Create-a-Skater now includes female models and allows you to
customize everything from hair color, facial hair, tattoos, clothing, accessories, and a
bunch more settings. It has become popular to create skaters in the likeness of various
celebrities or other skaters not included in the game. I cant really describe how
satisfying it is to create a skater who looks like a reasonable approximation of yourself.
The clarity of the next-gen graphics really helps you imagine just what youd look
like skying off a bridge in Rio to grind a power line then hop down onto a quarter pipe in
clarity of next-gen graphics is significant, too, because it actually helps with gameplay.
Although previous installments were incredible achievements in graphics and technical
prowess, it is now much easier to see exactly what your skater is doing right there in
front of you. You can see landings and potential lines much better this time around simply
because of the graphical improvements.
THPS3 (and the previous versions, for that matter) have been very satisfying playing at
home alone or with a friend, some folks are just nutty over THPS3s online
multiplayer, and with good reason. Neversoft, in a shining example of how much these guys
care about us, have included support of online multiplayer in spite of Sonys lagging
and delays. You dont need the Sony network adapter a compatible USB ethernet
adapter can be plugged into the front of your PS2 and you can be online, playing in
populated skateparks and online competitions, with little to no sweat. Of course, the game
works best over a broadband connection, and youll probably have a few questions
about how to get it to work. I suggest you consult the Planet
Tony Hawk Photo Tutorial to get more help with setting up and connecting to an
could go on and on about how much fun THPS3 is, but it would just be a rehash of things
Ive written in previous reviews. Ive reviewed this series on every platform
its been released for, and I always look forward to it. There is something deeply
satisfying about THPS. I am getting to be an old gamer at the ripe age of 26, and my
skateboarding days are all behind me. I have some scars and funny shaped bones to remind
me of the days gone by, and I walk my dog past our local skatepark to see my younger
friends, many of whom I worked with to help raise funds and get the park built. I have
always believed that skateboarding is a legitimate sport, and Ive been incredibly
happy to see it grow over the past ten years. Undoubtedly, one reason it has been so
successful as a sport is the ambassadorship of Tony Hawk, and one reason Tony Hawk is such
a mainstream icon these days is the Pro Skater series. I love these games, and Tony
Hawks Pro Skater 3 is no exception.