gold-standard of extreme sports games Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 has made it’s
first appearance on the Nintendo Gamecube. As you’d expect, Neversoft has once
again topped themselves with another first-rate skateboarding title. With the
eternally addictive gameplay, smooth controls and of course, legions of
unlockable items, secrets and moves, THPS 3 is once again at the top of the
mountain. Read our review to find out how THPS3 stays at the peak of its game.
doesn’t stop there, as there’s now an enhanced skate-park creation tool
which allows for greater flexibility with more types of pieces with more ramps,
grinds, and jumps making this much more enjoyable and useful. Players can also
create bigger parks as well, making their designed courses a lot more
interesting and fun to play on.
addition to multiplayer, practice and single session modes, the game also has an
extensive Career mode. The main goal here is to skate around and collect various
items, perform tricks, unlock secret areas, enhance your character with points
and of course there are other objectives such as collecting the letters
S-K-A-T-E and finding the secret tape on each level. Each objective completed
earns you a point and these points can be used to unlock more levels. There are
also stat icons which you can collect and enhance your skater’s abilities.
THPS3 has abandoned the money system of the second edition and instead reverts
to the simpler objective system used in the first game. However, this doesn’t
mean that THPS3 represents a step backwards. The levels this time out are much
larger and more elaborate than any seen in the past and feature cool new
interactive elements that really help to immerse the player into the world. The
levels take place in a variety of locales including an Airport,
of the first things players familiar with the older outings in the series will
notice is that the visuals have been significantly enhanced. An impressive
engine allows for a greater definition in objects and structures in the
background making for a more realistic appearance throughout. Animations are now
much smoother and the game’s engine moves at a very smooth clip with little in
the way of slowdown. It seems a little flat at points, but the vastness and
detail of the environments makes up for any of the plainness in the graphics and
visuals giving a nicely polished appearance. Another significant enhancement is
that THPS 3’s levels are now populated with other skaters and civilians, some
of whom get in the way while others need to be knocked down which also gives the
levels more life. This seemingly insignificant change is actually a fantastic
enhancement that helps to make the environments feel more realistic and
authentic. THPS3 does a good job and this translation makes excellent use of the
GC”s power. The Nintendo console’s use of mass-storage also allows for a
nice soundtrack, which has been broadened to include hip-hop and metal in
addition to the pop-punk tracks that have become the series trademark music.
Some of the tracks are more annoying than invigorating but the variety is
greatly appreciated. Another improvement isn’t as noticeable initially, but
the trick system is even deeper with new moves such as the manuals which are
hard to master but reward the player with huge amounts of points. Earlier
installments were intuitive but THPS3 features a much simpler and much easier
combo system that adds another layer of challenge and difficulty onto what is
already an incredibly deep game.
What makes the expanded combo system so appealing, at least on the Gamecube, is the system’s controller, which is perfectly suited to this type of gameplay. With its extremely comfortable analog stick making movement responsive and smooth and the different sized and shaped face buttons making commands easy to differentiate, the console’s controller is absolutely perfect with this game and THPS3 exploits this to the fullest. So, in the end, the increased customization, larger environments, deeper tricks system, enhanced interactivity and greater variety of mission goals makes this another outstanding title. Neversoft deserves a lot of credit for not resting on their success and continuing to improve the series. As usual, this is a highly addictive, incredibly fun game with a myriad of secrets to unlock that should keep you occupied for many hours. In fact, we purposely avoided mentioning a lot of these because a big part of the fun is finding them yourself but suffice it to say, there are some huge surprises in store. The question isn’t whether you should get Tony Hawk 3, because it’s as close to a mandatory purchase as you can get, but why you’d bother with anything else in the genre.