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Game Profile
GENRE: Extreme Sports
PLAYERS:   1-2
November 18, 2001
Tony Hawk: Shred

Tony Hawk: Shred

Tony Hawk: Shred

Tony Hawk: Ride

Tony Hawk: Ride

More in this Series
 Written by Ilan Mejer  on February 05, 2002

Full Review: Insane verts, crazy grinds, and an unmatched trick combo system? Welcome to the world of THPS3!

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 is following in the footsteps of the hottest franchise in recent history. Do not let this turn you off to an all-new thrashing experience. Long rumored as a launch title, THPS3 was missing from release lists until almost the last moment before Nintendo's dramatic entrance in the next generation arena. While not the first skateboarding title to hit gaming, THPS is easily the most successful and influential one and has spawned a completely new Extreme Sports sub-genre and hordes of knockoffs.

The premise of the game is simple enough, choose from over a dozen professional skateboarders (and a dozen more secret characters), customize his/her skateboard and clothing, and embark upon a career that will earn you new stages to compete in, medals of varying grades, points to boost your skating skills, and the cheers of your fans everywhere. However, each of the nine career stages are filled with a large degree of mission-like objectives. In addition to the competitions and level objectives, each stage has five stat points and a new deck scattered around for you to find. These optional items are found in different locations for each skater giving you reason to play through the game with every skater.

Your primary method of competition is through THPS3's robust trick system. You will be able to incorporate dozens of different tricks to impress the judges and your friends ranging from lip tricks to linked vertical tricks to grinding on any available edge! Furthermore, you will be able to ?link? your tricks into huge combos using THPS2's manuals and the new reverts introduced in this game. The more tricks you add to your combo, the greater the multiplier that is factored into that combo's score. A trick is not complete until ?landed' and all four wheels of your skateboard are on the ground. Furthermore, you simply must vary your tricks, as each time you complete a specific trick its point value will depreciate by about 20%.

The controls are comfortable, even for those used to the gameplay in the PS2 version. Keep in mind; in order to maximize your points and time allotment, you must mix up your tricks. When executing a grind, flip, or grab, you must push in one of the eight cardinal directions on the analog stick or d-pad in order to initiate different tricks! By complicating and landing tricks, you will fill up your characters Special Meter, allowing you to pull off more complex and valuable custom tricks. These custom tricks vary from skater to skater, and require more complicated button presses. These special tricks are also customizable once you open up additional special trick slots, which you can reassign.

Graphically, the game is quite pleasant. Being a port of a PS2 game, it does not exactly utilize the innate strengths of the GameCube and consequently will not blow you or your friends away. However, it gets the job done while maintaining a respectable frame rate. Only the Tokyo competition stage suffered from noticeable stutters, but it did not affect the gameplay enough to cause me to lose the event. The characters are nicely modeled and wonderfully animated. The environments are complex and sprawling and feature a satisfying amount of on-screen activity and geometry. With more development time, the game truly could have dwarfed the PS2 original, at least in graphics if not in features.

On the audio front, I found the game to be utterly dissatisfactory. Fans of contemporary music will thrill at the concept of thrashing and grinding to a huge collection of semi-recent Rap, Hip Hop, and Hard Rock tunes. However, those that prefer original soundtracks and compositions in their games will be disappointed to discover a complete void in that department. Happily, those that enjoy only certain styles of music will be pleased to know that the track list can be custom tailored to play only the tracks you like. On the upside, the sound effects and voice-overs are magnificent. You will be able to determine what surface you are skating on simply by the sound the game emits. In addition, all of the jumps, grunts, smacks, landed tricks, and environmental sound effects that you would expect in a real life situation are wonderfully represented in THPS3. Spectators will shoot out all kinds of appropriate comments, from cheers and boos to actual requests and taunts.

The gaming experience does not end with the career mode, thankfully. Up to two players can compete in a variety of challenges including graffiti, king of the hill, slap, horse, and trick attack modes. The most amusing of these modes is graffiti, in which you tag a part of the stage with your color by tricking off it. Your opponent must also tag pieces of the environment and can ?steal' your tagged areas by landing a more complex trick than you did initially. The player with the most tagged areas will win.

Furthermore, if you are not content with competing as one of the dozen pro skaters or the dozen bonus characters then you have the option of creating a new skater. Neversoft has also fleshed out the package with a very complete real-time 3D skate park editor. These features add incredible replay value as you can swap your parks and characters with your friends.

Bottom Line
You simply cannot go wrong with THPS3. Even gamers not partial to skateboarding or sports will find an extremely satisfying, complete, and replay-able experience in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. Unlike many hits-become-franchises out there, the Tony Hawk experience has not gotten old in its third incarnation as each new game incorporates a slew of new tricks, trick types, options, and secrets.

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