Skateboarding! It’s fun! Tony Hawk 3 is good game! Read review!
If you still haven’t played a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game, you’re really missing out. I’m not saying that absolutely everyone will love the games, but you owe it to yourself to try them out no matter how skeptic you are…you just may fall in love. Tony Hawk 3 brings the series to next-gen consoles with mostly superficial changes, at least on the GameCube. Without the PS2 version’s online functionality, THPS3’s biggest new features are the revert (lets you chain a vert trick into manuals and then other tricks) and expanded create-a-player and create-a-park modes.
There are also new levels, and of course that alone is plenty for the Pro Skater faithful; the levels are simply huge, very well designed, populated with bystanders, and generally a tad more whimsical than those in the previous games. There’s nothing particularly odd about the Los Angeles level…until you cause an earthquake and then stop a car chase with the wreckage. While real-world skaters may scoff at such touches (then again, maybe they won’t), gamers will probably enjoy the slightly different direction in level design.
I also noticed that the game seems to favor grinds over vert tricks in this sequel…although part of that is probably due to my style of playing. The two-player multiplayer modes are back and better than ever. Trick Attack and Horse can easily occupy a couple of moderately proficient THPS players; unfortunately, some of the other modes (Tag, King of the Hill) are pointless without the online capability, but they’re included anyway in case you find some way to have fun with them.
Trying to decide between the PS2 and GameCube versions of THPS3? It really depends on what you’re looking for. The GameCube version looks slightly cleaner, but has some annoying (and potentially harmful) framerate problems. The control layout is arguable as good or even better than on the Dual Shock 2, but fans of the D-pad will either have to adjust to the GameCube’s tiny one or switch to the joystick (which behaves digitally anyway for this game). And, of course, there’s the omission of the PS2 version’s online modes…it could be a deciding factor for some, a non-issue for others. Either way, the splitscreen multiplayer is loads of fun, and the whole game has replay value out the ass.
There isn’t much else to say about Tony Hawk 3. If you’re a fan of the series, this game is obviously a great purchase. Anyone who hasn’t tried Pro Skater yet would do well to give it a rent. And, for the game’s various detractors, the third installment isn’t going to change any minds. It is incrementally better, but the franchise is quickly running out of places to go. The newest Hawk has new levels, prettier graphics, and a revert, and for a great many people, that’s plenty to be excited about. Me, I’m ready for some change…but THPS3 is still a fantastic ride and a worthy new entry to the series.