The series began on the original Playstation and presented the gamer with a completely immersive experience. Never before had anyone seen a skateboarding game with so much pizzazz and power to bring the fun and excitement of real life skateboarding home to video games. The game was immediately greeted with a following of die hard skateboarding fanatics and immediately ported to the DC and N64. The success of the first game spawned a sequel that presented the gaming world with a refined experience and was then ported onto the N64, Dreamcast and the GameBoy Advance. The first two games were combined (along with a bunch of exclusive new levels & textures) for it's entrance on the Xbox. Now Neversoft and Activision are back again with Tony Hawk 3 on the PS2, GBA, Gamecube, and of course, Xbox.
The game will feature the same kick ass gameplay that we're all used to from games past. You'll have the ability to grab, flip, spin, and twist to your heart's content with THPS3. You'll be able to grind off of basically every object in the game and can jump off of buildings, table tops, and other assorted structures in the game's environments.
The locales in the game will be some of the most innovative and skater friendly every seen on a console. Real locations such as Tokyo, Los Angeles, Canada, as well as one more exclusive level unique to the Xbox's version of the game will all present unique looks to the gamer as you play through the game. All of the levels will be unique and will take plenty of time to learn the ins and outs. Just in case those four levels don't excite you enough, levels from previous games will also make appearances in the game.
On the graphical side of things, Neversoft has completely retooled the gaming engine in an effort to take advantage of the next generation hardware. The game runs at a fluid 60 frames per second and the player models have been redefined featuring brand new textures. Particle effects will be highlights with blood, sparks, and more. Another graphical feature which will make its way into the game is full screen anti aliasing which is something that the Xbox has promised but has failed to deliver. The fact that Neversoft has gotten the game to run at 60 frames per second and utilize FSAA is a testament to the development talent of the team.
The game will feature a plethora of real life professional skaters including: Elissa Steamer, Jamie Thomas, Steve Cabellero, Rune Glifberg, Geoff Rowley, Andrew Reynolds, Rodney Mullen, Eric Koston, Chad Muska, Bucky Lasek, Kareem Campbell, and for all of you JackAss fans out there Activision has included Bam Margera to commit lood and crude acts on the Xbox. Oh and did I forget the magnanimous Tony Hawk? If none of these pro skaters suit your fancy then perhaps you'll find yourself taking part in the in depth Create-A-Skater mode which THPS3 features. Regardless, one way or another you'll be skating like a professional in no time at all.
Along with the Create-A-Skater feature, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 offers a few other elements of customization as well. The popular create a level feature returns so that you may create and edit your favorite parks with more ramps, rails, half pipes, and quarter pipes. If that's not enough then Activision also has given the player the ability to customize the tunes with which the game will be played. If the already awesome soundtrack doesn't suit your fancy then you'll have the option to create and rip your very own music tracks for the game. Go ahead, grind along to Color Me Badd if you want.
The career mode of the game will be where the meat of the game will be played. This time around Activision has included plenty of new character specific objectives to complete along the way. What this will amount to is tons of replay value considering the fact that every level will be played uniquely by each character. To go along with your accomplishments will be some amazingly high quality DVD clips highlighting true to life skating accomplishments. Despite the greatness of the career mode in past Tony Hawk games looks for this year's entry to surpass them all with ease.
The one and only drawback that we can see the game suffering from is the lack of online play. Sure you and four buddies can tear it up in a multitude of gaming modes and you can even link up a few Xbox's and enjoy a little multiplayer goodness on your own private TV sets. But no online play could win up hurting this game a bit. While you can still compete on GameSpy, it would've been very nice to see some online play on the Xbox version of the game.
In the end there really isn't a whole lot that can stop this game from climbing up the sales charts and toppling the greatest Xbox games out there. With the bundle of graphics, controls, audio pleasure, and depth all tied together in a pretty little bow by the Tony Hawk license go ahead mark up yet another A-list title to the already long list of awesome Xbox titles.
Nate "Gamer X" Ahearn
Likes the 720 mute stalefish, indy, kickflip… thingy.