"Tony Hawk’s is probably one of the most ubiquitous franchises of the last decade. It’s appeared on every format made since ollie-ing into the PlayStation park in 1999, and when each game is designed to be built better than the last, playing this eight-year old title is like skating backwards into a time machine. "
Tony Hawk’s is probably one of the most ubiquitous franchises of the last decade. It’s appeared on every format made since ollie-ing into the PlayStation park in 1999, and when each game is designed to be built better than the last, playing this eight-year old title is like skating backwards into a time machine.
It isn’t hard to notice how the franchise has since moved on. The draw-in distance is horrible; half the level draws itself in front of your eyes and trying to locate the good half-pipes is a mere memory game. There’s only a handful of accompanying songs. The controls are a pain to negotiate with when trying to turn the skater around, when in subsequent games the skater navigate around off their board (leading to farfetched level goals), and there are far less tricks on offer.
But despite it supposed sparseness; it doesn’t take long for this bygone PSone title to grow on you again. The game-play is tougher and more down-to-earth. Whereas player had it easy racking up points by grabbing the edge of a ramp and switching positions on later versions, this is not the case here. Points have to be gained the hard way. Grabs and flips have to be pulled off the quarter pipes, balance needs maintaining from the numerous grind tricks, amongst interconnecting the combos off different ramps with manuals. The revert is the only major addition from the PS2 version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. Before landing a vert trick, pressing R2 will allow the combo-chain to continue. After that you can manual to another ramp and rack up the multiplier even more.
Everything here presents what Tony Hawk’s skating games are about, no matter which one you started with. Whereas future releases like Tony Hawk’s Underground added novelty stories with rags to riches scenarios or a World Tour modelled on Bam Margera’s Viva la Bam! TV series, the career mode here is far more down to earth. By choosing either a real-life or custom skater, you start off with only basic stats and accumulate stat points through the levels. Levels are mostly accomplishing a list of goals in just two minutes. Some goals are relatively simple, such as finding five items or the letters that spell SKATE. Others require more masterful skill and precision. Maintaining balance on a long string grind, finding a secret tape through a carefully timed series of jumps and linking high combos to achieve progressively steeper scores are the real challenges here. As a respite from smashing satellite dishes/transformers/trees, there are also three heat competitions. Competing against other skaters, the judges need impressing by pulling off a variety of high-scoring tricks, the best two of three attempts are accounted for. Only a podium finish will do!
The classic two-minute level formula makes this as addictive as any modern Tony Hawks. Inevitably it can be frustrating when you’ve just bailed a 50,000 combo or fallen off the grind pole before the secret tape generates a few snarls. But eventually finding it or achieving a 150,000 sick score immsensely ads to the satisfaction. It may test your patience, angry moments will erupt, but the “just-one-more-go” element isn’t something found find in every game. You won’t realise how often you restart the scenario. Coupled with a spot-on inventory of skate parks, ranging from the generic factory, airport and suburbia levels to real-world locations like Rio, Los Angeles and a neon-covered Tokyo, plus a park creator is at your disposal, there is no question of variety. Unfortunately cars and people have been removed making for a somewhat lifeless feel. But when concentrating on stringing together combos, it’s hardly noticeable.
When Tony Hawk’s games are on tap for every console except the iPhone, truth be told it’s hard to recommend this over eight years worth of since-improved titles spanning two console-generations. However, that doesn’t stop this from being a good title in its own right. If you’re after pure, classic Tony Hawk’s on the console where it all started, THPS3 is a safe bet. The graphics are decent for PSone standards, and the soundtrack line-up is ace, featuring hip-hop by Ozomalti and The Nextmen, punk-metal tracks by Bodyjar and Zebrahead and classics by the Ramones and Motorhead, all accompanying the experience marvellously. Although THPS3 proves it’s not easy to skate backwards, it’s decent when given a chance. There’s plenty of goals to beat and gaps to uncover, providing a perfect example of the old-skool simplicity that has somewhat vanished from recent releases. Ride on!
Community review by bigcj34 (June 03, 2009)
Cormac Murray is a freelance contributor for HG and is a fanboy of Sega and older Sony consoles. For modern games though he pledges allegiance to the PC Master Race, by virtue of a MacBook running Windows.
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