Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4
Released: October 2002
Genre: Extreme Sports
Capabilities: Memory Unit, Custom Soundtrack, HDTV 720p, System Link Compatible
Review Written: November 10, 2002The Game
I can’t believe how far the Tony Hawk series has come since the first release in 1999. The skateboarding game that could still keeps grinding away with a new sequel each year. Tony Hawk 4 looks promising with a new emphasis on its career mode, and a couple of new moves implemented into game play. It’s remarkable how each new addition to the series never manages to get old and boring, let’s see if the developers at Neversoft can keep this outstanding game on track.
Past Tony Hawk games are always noted for their outstanding graphics, and this addition continues the trend. The designs for the character models are as realistic as it gets. They look damn near identical to their real life counterparts, and are the best from any other game out there. The civilians that populate the stages look great from a distance, but up close their facial features look like they came out of the 32-bit generation. The enormous stages in THPS4 are well worth your attention. The textures are mapped to perfection, and they help give the levels a superb presentation to them all around.
The animations for the tricks and stunts you perform are well done. The blood is pouring out a bit more when you wipe out, and you got to love it when you mark your territory with a streak of red. Just like its predecessors, Tony Hawk 4 runs at a fast and solid frame rate. The loading times are only several seconds long, and are a bit shorter from the PS2 version. If you’re wealthy enough to own to own a high definition television, then you can run THPS4 at 720p mode to get the best looking graphics out there!
All the sound effects we know and love from the past releases are still here in tact. Grinding, board-switching, and that all-too-familiar “ugh” you hear after you wipeout have never sounded better. The Tony Hawk games are famous for great collections of licensed music in each title. Tony Hawk 4 delivers the great tunes, and then some with a whopping 35 tracks at your disposal. THPS4 opens with the classic rock song by AC/DC, “TNT.” Now don’t go crying home thinking the soundtrack is only consisting of old rock titles. Tony Hawk 4 mixes it up with a fair mix of rap, alternative, and hard rock songs from popular bands such as The Offspring, System of a Down, and The Public Enemy, among others. If you’re not a fan of some of the songs included in the soundtrack then you can choose for certain songs to not be played during game play. One of the other great features is the ability to use your own ripped soundtrack to listen too.
The main new move added in to THPS4 is the spine transfer. This nifty technique allows you to land on your feet, instead of your head, when you screw up a trick. The spine transfer is done simply by holding the L and R triggers simultaneously. It’s about time Neversoft added this technique in here. Falling on my noggin’ off the half pipes was always got me in a rage in the past releases. Another new feature is the ability to “skitch” onto the bumpers of cars. A grind meter (which is much easier to control) appears when you skitch onto the car so you know how good your grip is. This distinctive feature sparks the memories of one of my all time favorites, Skitchin, on the Genesis. It was the only other video game to allow you to do this.
If there is one complaint about the controls, it’s that things are starting to get a bit more on the fantasy side. You’ll notice character’s jamming to a stereo or dribbling a basketball during grinds, or knocking himself out with the “Jackass” specialty trick. All these maneuvers are fine by me, but I don’t know how hardcore skaters will find the new direction the Tony Hawk series is heading in.
As I mentioned above, the career mode got a makeover. The classic “do all you can in two minutes” scheme is no more. Instead, once we start a new level, we are now in a state of free skate. There are plenty of characters scattered around the various stages. Goals are now accomplished by skating up to highlighted skaters and receiving your missions from them. Most of these are timed missions where you’ll have as much as two minutes or as little as seven seconds to get your goal completed. Some of these goals are of the usual staple like collecting S-K-A-T-E, and breaking a few high scores. There are also a few new goals that possibly could be future mainstays in the series. One such example is collecting the letters to spell out C-O-M-B-O. This task is done by nabbing all the letters in one continuous trick, so make sure to you got your manuals, and grinds ready for action.
The stages for Tony Hawk 4 are gigantic! There’s no way you’d be able to knock off all the sixteen goals for each level in two minutes in these mammoths. Besides completing all the goals, there are still plenty of other hidden goodies to find like cash (yes, its back!) and multiple gaps and transfers. These huge stages allow for fun mini-games to be introduced into the game play. Some of these will place you in the role of batting practice and playing tennis with your skateboard. However, the controls for some of these games are hit and miss, and tend to get a bit on the sloppy side, especially for tennis.
The usual array of bells and whistles is still to be found in Tony Hawk 4. The park editor has just as many objects you can use to create your ultimate skate park. The usual ramps, railings, and half pipes are to be found with many odd extras like water fountains and lava pits. The Create-a-Skater finally got some depth to it. There are loads of new shirts, tattoos, and other accessories to customize your skater with right from the start, with a plethora of new items to be unlocked from buying them at the skater shop. By completing career mode, you’ll earn attribute points to add on to your stats to make your skater better.
The multiplayer aspect of Tony Hawk is a bit disappointing from the last two X-Box games. All the great multi player modes from the past are here such as Trick Attack, H-O-R-S-E, and Graffiti, plus a new Combo Mambo mode where whoever get the best scoring combo in a run, wins. However, this doesn’t make up for what Activision left out. What is it, you ask? There are two main reasons for this. One frustration was that Neversoft made THPS4 only two-players for split screen, when Tony Hawk 2x and 3 on X-Box were four players. Me and my buddies had a blast in four player on the older titles, but we found ourselves getting ticked off as each minute passed by, reliving the “loser sits out” rule from the PSone days.
The other reason why multi player is lacking is because of no X-Box Live support. I’m baffled on why Activision didn’t include this. I’m not buying their “not enough development time to implement” excuse because they sure as hell had enough time to give the PS2 version online support. I’m speculating a deal with Sony for online exclusivity on the PS2, but that’s just my opinion. We can at least be thankful that Activision included System Link play so we can link up to four X-Box consoles and televisions for a total of eight players. If you’re like most of us and don’t have enough money to afford or find the room for all that, you can always play over a network like Gamespy or X-Box Connect.
You’ll be hard pressed trying to 100% complete the career mode. You’ll sure as hell be rewarded by doing so with all the cash you earn by buying the countless tricks, clothing, movies, and other hidden objects in the skater shop. The Create-a-Skater and Park Editor are better then ever by finally getting the depth they’ve needed. The multi player has plenty of ways to play from, but with only two players split screen instead of having up to four (like the previous two X-Box games had). Also, no Live support is simply ludicrous on Neversoft’s part.
+: The best graphics than any other extreme sports game out there, one monster of a soundtrack, the new overhaul for the career mode is a big plus!
-: Only up to two players for splits screen play is disappointing when the last two games had up to four, no X-Box Live online support is inexcusable
Final Ratings Rundown
Game play: 8.8
Replay Value: 8.0
Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 9
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 is a vast improvement over the third incarnation. The new tricks and redone career mode are good enough to warrant a purchase. However, if you’re a big fan of the multi player aspects of the game, I recommend sticking with THPS 2x or 3, or just get this version on the PS2, because of the online play.
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