Each time you complete the game, you're given some new things to play with. Earning three gold medals gives you a new video to watch. Most of the videos are standard biographical stuff for the pro skaters, combined with footage of them skating. Like in the previous games, the hidden and created skaters unlock other videos, such as footage of the pros bailing and lots and lots of footage of the Neversoft team goofing around. Needless to say, the mammoth storage capacity of the DVD format doesn't go to waste here. Aside from the main career mode, you can skate around any level with no time limit or skate a single two-minute session on any level in an attempt to set one of the many records that the game keeps track of for every course. The nicest mode addition is a brief tutorial that shows you the basics of the game--something that Tony Hawk 2 definitely could have used. The tutorial takes you through a step-by-step guide to the game, narrated by Tony himself. Here, you'll learn how to manual, how to revert properly, how to determine what makes good combos, and how to wall-ride effectively. It's brief, but it goes a long way toward making the game friendlier to first-time players.
Completing every goal in the game with one skater unlocks something else, like a hidden skater, hidden level, or cheat mode. Once you've gotten the hang of the game and figured out all the goals a few times, beating the game should take around an hour, but the lure of hidden stuff combined with the varied placement of certain level items from skater to skater makes the game very replayable.
The Xbox version of THPS3 duplicates the LAN play of the PlayStation 2 version, but not its online, Internet-based component. So if you happen to have your Xbox hooked up to a LAN full of other Xbox users, you'll be able to enjoy some fantastic four-player multiplayer. The game uses a standard PC-like model for finding games. When you select the system link option, you'll be taken to a list of active games on your network and have the option to host a game of your own. Hosting your own server means you call the shots when it comes to game and level selection, as well as banning unruly players. In addition to skating, you can chat by using an onscreen keyboard.
Aside from free skate, there are a handful of games you can play in system link mode. Trick attack is a simple score-based battle. Graffiti was in previous Tony Hawk games, and it challenges you to mark more territory than your opponents by doing tricks on them. The pieces of the level you use for your trick are changed to your color. Anyone doing a higher-scoring trick on that object can steal the piece from you. King of the hill is a slight reworking of tag from THPS2, and it forces players to fight for a crown that changes hands whenever the king is bumped by another player. Whoever can hold the crown for two minutes (or more if the server operator decides to choose a longer time period) first wins. Slap! is the game's answer to Quake-style deathmatch. When two skaters collide, the faster skater knocks the other one down and earns one point. Whoever has the most points at the end wins. All these modes can also be played in a split-screen two-player mode. Horse, a multiplayer game that has been in all the Tony Hawk games, can be played only in this offline two-player mode. The multiplayer element of the game gives it a nearly infinite amount of replay value--provided you're on a LAN populated by other Tony Hawk players.
In addition to playing amazingly well, Tony Hawk 3 looks terrific. Most of the jaggy edges found in the PlayStation 2 and GameCube versions have been smoothed out. The game is designed to run at 60 frames per second, and with few exceptions--such as anytime you skate near or through fog or smoke, causing the speed to take a serious hit--it does just that. The huge levels look great up close or at a distance, with nice-looking, colorful textures that look much sharper than their PS2 and GameCube counterparts. While some of the standard trick animations from the previous games in the series seem to be reused here, the tricks transition very well from one to the next, and the animation is both smooth and full of little nuances. For instance, spinning in the air while doing tricks looks way more realistic now, as the skaters' torsos actually twist separately from their legs. Even grinding and lip tricks look better now, as the skaters get a little twitchy as they try to keep their balance. A ton of new wreck animations have been added as well. These situational animations make bailing look a lot more realistic--and a lot more painful. Blood that streaks the sides of walls and ramps when you wipe out and remain in that spot for quite some time afterward definitely adds to the painful effect. This streaking blood and other decal-like features wreak havoc with the shadows, though, as the game seems to place the blood (or small scrape textures on the side of a quarterpipe and so on) over the shadow instead of under it. Another nice feature is the ability to look around at will by moving the right analog stick. You can even lock the camera in any position you wish, though it's obviously pretty difficult to skate while you're staring directly at the front side of your skater.
The soundtrack is a perfect mix of old and new material that crosses many genres. Bands on the soundtrack include CKY, Motorhead, AFI, Alien Ant Farm, Xzibit, KRS-One, Rollins Band, Redman, Del the Funky Homosapien, Ozomatli, and more. A playlist function lets you turn off tracks that don't fit your tastes, but the long soundtrack will almost certainly contain something you can skate to. In the event that it doesn't, you can select custom soundtracks from the sound options menu. It would have been nice to be able to mix the existing soundtrack with your own tunes, like Rallisport Challenge does, but you're forced to select either the standard music or one of your custom soundtracks. Like the previous Tony Hawk games, Tony 3 gets the sounds of skating down perfectly. You can hear the cracks in the sidewalk as you skate over them, different surfaces make different noises when you skate on them, and there is a seemingly unlimited number of cool little voice clips and other minor sound effects that really make the game come alive. Pedestrians throughout the levels will talk, some of them having funny conversations amongst themselves, while others will call out to you, telling you to "bust something out" and proclaiming that your tricks are "dope" when you do something nice right in front of them. The voicework is also absolutely hilarious. The kids in the Canada level talk with a Canadian accent, and their dialogue is peppered with the word "eh." Security guards in the airport level and some of the people in the Los Angeles level tend to talk with a funny sort of "Eddie Murphy doing an impression of an uptight white guy" flavor, speaking very deliberately when they proclaim your tricks to be "sick."
The Tony Hawk series has always had style. The first game reinvented a genre and set off a series of clones and pretenders that still flood the market today. The second game refined the formula, but its higher level of difficulty and steeper learning curve turned off casual players. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 brings it all together in one package that makes everything before it almost unplayable by comparison. The game has a lower level of difficulty at the beginning and some basic tutoring to appeal to new players but has enough hidden items and harder goals later on to keep the Tony Hawk experts interested as well. Add to that the greatly expanded and balanced trick system and, if you happen to be lucky enough to have the proper components nearby, a heavy dose of addictive system link play, and you've got a game that you'll be playing right up until the day that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 is released, if not longer. Any Xbox owner who doesn't already own another version of the game would be crazy to not pick this one up.
- Similar model: $
- Set Price Alert