Reviewed: November 14, 2001
Released: November 1, 2001
I just stopped five pick-pockets at an international airport with an awesome series of grinds, kick flips, grab tricks, lip tricks, and special moves that would put Tony Hawk to shame. No, I don't have magical powers to skateboard and fight crime. I've been playing Tony Hawk 3 again.
"Hi. My name is Josh, and I'm an addict". I do, however, know a cure. All I gotta do is clear every level with every skater in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. Then I just might be ok. You better order some pizza, get a truckload of Jolt cola, and undertake special training so you don't require sleep. Once you start playing THPS3, there's no stopping.
If you loved the first two installments of this game, then the third is going to become the sole obsession in your life in the best way imaginable. You may be thinking, "Self, I know a game can be good. I know Tony Hawk can be great. But it's not possible for a game to take over one's life". But you'd be wrong. After the first 30 seconds of playing the first level, you'll come to realize that you've just been sucked into a world of breathtaking levels, unmatched goals, and characters that look better than you do.
The best part is that with some of the skaters, goals are different. One skater might need to grind a series of rails, another might need to bust a 540 crooked-drop over a half-pipe. Some goals are completed within eyeshot of a photographer. This leads to a cover shot scene at the end of the level, which absolutely oozes with sweetness.
This time around also brings a revamped point system. Last year you had to find cash to spend on points, and now you have to find stat points scattered around the levels. Some are easy to get while some require that you defy the laws of physics to reach them. At the end of the level, you can switch your points up to create a skate style that puts Bucky Lasek to shame.
Speaking of style, the Create-a-Skater feature has been totally remapped. You have tons of options to choose from; everything from facial hair color to the size of the pack on your back, and everything in between. Yes, that voice you hear telling you to go buy this game is real, but there is still more.
The revert. What's a "revert", you ask? A revert is a trick you can pull while coming out of the air so you can link up mad points after coming off of a ramp. All this discussion of reverts and what-not might make the game sound a tad-bit difficult. It's actually easier than the very first installment on the PS1. Don't throw a fit, it doesn't mean simpler. But now, stat points aren't impossible to get to, for instance.
Gamers already having experienced the first or second installments will fall straight into the easy controls. The list of tricks is thoroughly endless. Newbies to the series will get used to the controls in roughly 3.7 seconds. It's that great.
Finally, you probably wouldn't expect to hear about enemy AI in a skating game. But if you run into a pedestrian too slow, they won't hesitate to clothes-line you right off your board. Then again, ramming into the lady walking her dog and sending her flying is a game in it's own. THPS3 is so far the greatest invention of man-kind. Next to women, anyway.
The visuals are dazzling. Normally, you'd probably be frustrated after losing the 58,976 points you just racked up because you landed sideways. But in THPS3, you'll find yourself screaming, "Sweet!!" after marveling at how cool the pane of glass looked as you shattered it with your airborne body because you didn't land that kick flip.
The screen isn't as crowded with numbers and letters like most other "extreme sports" games. There's enough to let you know how many points you scored with what trick, but not too many so you can't see the ever-elusive secret tape in the corner of the screen. The camera system is just what you would expect from the granddaddy of all sports games. It's always at a great angle so you can get an exceptional view of the skater, the tricks you pull, and what's in front of you.
Lighting is great. In the first level you've got a darkened, dank power plant to skate. Los Angles is bright, sunny, and gorgeously lit up with happy rays of magic from the sun. It's as if that guy from the home décor show on Discovery Channel did the lighting.
Did I mention that there is never, ever any pop-up? The attention to detail is spectacular as well; even the vehicles are in synch with the traffic lights. Tech-specs aside, the visual essence of the game is better than physically staring at a real life waterfall. I do believe that says enough on the cosmetics of Tony Hawk 3.
Sound Effects are crisp, clean, and have the imitation of a world class recording studio job. Whether it's the sound of the aftershock from the earthquake you caused, or some chump pedestrian telling you what move to bust out next, it's all candy for your ears. Voices from the pedestrians sound just like you'd expect a chump without a car to sound, and they're pretty verbal. They'll let you know if your trick was good or not, and they're more than happy to taunt you and call you names after you finish knocking them down.
I couldn't have put a better soundtrack together if I were Mozart. The developers threw in some hip hop, vintage metal riffs from bands like Motorhead, new age rock from groups like Alien Ant Farm, and a little rap to boot. I've still got some of those songs jammed into my mind. Music can make or break a game. I'll give you three guesses, first two don't count, to determine whether or not this soundtrack is a winner. All the songs fit the environment of skateboarding perfectly.
The career mode is unlike anything you've ever bore witness to. Just when you think you need to study for that algebra test, or even sleep, you figure out a way to backside grind your way to the secret tape. It's quite possible you might not ever sleep again.
Let it be heard - the replayability has no competition from other games. You're thinking, "Self, I don't care about replayability. I'm gonna beat it once and be done with the ordeal". But once again, you are wrong. I can't force this thought upon you, but once you get your reward the first time, you'll want to do it all over again.
I'll now mention the coolest thing about the game - it's online! Round up a posse of friends, or find a crew off in Europe to play against. Play mini-games against each other, or simply hang out in a level and compare moves.
If you own a PS2, do not hesitate to purchase this title. You won't be disappointed in the least bit. This is a true gaming powerhouse, so borrow, buy, or steal to play this game. The only title that surpasses THPS3 is Metal Gear Solid 2. You just can't beat Hideo Kojima, but Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 takes a very close second.
This game is worth the whole 50 bucks you'll have the privilege of spending on it and more. Apparently I'm a great writer, because you're still reading this instead of at your local software store shelling out cash for THPS3. Go forth into the light and grab yourself a copy of this game.