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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (PS)
Member Name: tom1clare
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (PS)
Date: 19/06/03, updated on 19/06/03 (73 review reads)
Advantages: Fine-tuned gameplay plus the odd new touch, Decent graphics, Good controls
Disadvantages: Bit pricey for a PSOne game, Lacks challenge for series veterans, Some very frustrating moments
With the arrival of the third instalment in the series at the end of 2001, the Pro Skater franchise really hit the big time. The game appeared on several formats, recieved great critical acclaim and sold hundreds of thousands of copies in the U.K alone. It was extremely impressive - the levels were bold, the action was addictive and the new revert trick added a whole new dimension to proceedings.
For anyone new to the series, the action simply involves skateboarding around a variety of themed levels pulling off tricks using air-grabs, flips, grinds, lip-tricks and manuals, and linking them together for super points.
The main change for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 is that there is no time limit on levels and you must ride around to find icons indicating a goal to attempt. Having selected one of these, the game sets up conditions for the goal (such as a certain timelimit and parameters) and you can attempt it as many times as you need. Instead of just ten goals or so per level, there are now more than 25 in each of the seven areas! The goals vary - point-scoring, making combos or collecting items, all of which range in difficulty. This sounds great for fans looking for a massive challenge, but the developers have made a silly mistake that has severely cut the lifespan of the game by several weeks, and was not apparent in any of the previous Tony Hawk games - once you complete the game with one skater, almost everything is unlocked and finished.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 lasted weeks because you had to complete the game with all the skater's - building up their stats, unlocking their boards, discovering their videos and being awarded a new cheat for each completion. This made for a good couple of months of action. I completed Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 in less than one week (!), which was a real disappointment.
To the developers credit, there are a selection new gameplay features. You can now perform lip and grind 'extensions', where y
ou twiddle the D-Pad to change the trick you are performing without having to leave the actual board at anytime. Another main new move is the 'spine transfer', which allows you to cross over half-pipes safely. This move can also be used to land safely if you misjusge an ollie going up a ramp and are a headed for a collision with the floor!
This update is quite nice looking - the scale of the levels and the variety between them is admirable, but it suffers from pop-up and the draw distance is not particularly inspiring. It certainly doesn't look any better than THPS 3.
The action is every bit as compelling as before, with the new extension moves really making for some fresh action. There are no new air or grind tricks, but that doesn't matter - the beauty of the series is that it's the levels that make the difference, because you can interact with almost everything you see so there is loads of exploration to be done to find everything.
Levels on offer include a wet London complete with lightning effects, fountains and a red double-decker bus which you can abuse for points-gaining purposes. You can explore Alcatraz and discover an abandoned cell-block, complete with the sea proving an ominous-hazard. Later in the game you will find a sewer with some truly evil level goals (wall riding up sewer pipes can be particularly trying at times) and there is even a level where you ride around on a kitchen worktop complete with sinks for half-pipes, pots, pans, cheese and even a grill with bacon and eggs cooking.
Fans of the series and new comers should definately investigate this because it is still a great title, despite the lack of real lifespan that it's predessesors had. It extremely well though the manuals have lost their incredible responsivness that made no. 3 so perfect. Hawk's 4 is also a tad pricy at £25 - having gone up in price for Christmas, which was a shameful trick employed by many publishers around the festive season.