If you spent countless hours mastering the original Tony Hawk games, you'd best brew yourself a stiff pot of coffee or stock up on Red Bull when Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 hits this November. In addition to giving the game a graphical overhaul, developer Neversoft Entertainment has also gone through and expanded the already impressive trick system in the game. Fans of the depth found in the previous games will be both pleased and obsessed with what's being served up in the latest incarnation of what is arguably the best skating game around.
Hawk veterans will find that the game's speed, a constant 60 frames per second frame rate, will take some getting used to. Timing in the game will also require you to adjust a bit as the blazing speed may find you wiping out a lot at first. But the core of the game is classic Tony Hawk, and after a bit of time with the game, you'll be able to pretty much take to the streets like a pro. Some of the levels' goals may take some practice, but pulling off tricks and pulling down high scores should be doable for most. If you're especially skilled, you may even find you can advance through the game using your old bag of tricks. But you'd be missing out on a lot.
While the overall feel of the game remains true to its predecessors, Tony Hawk 3 boasts some pretty significant enhancements to its trick system that have evolved out of a combination of user feedback and the freedom Neversoft's creative impulses had on the PlayStation 2 hardware. The added muscle of the hardware allowed the developer to incorporate new trick moves and combo options. Play around with the game, and you'll find the trick system dwarfs what's come before in terms of depth and complexity.
The most welcome addition for players looking for big scores has to be the revert move. A 180-degree turn on the ground that's triggered by hitting the R2 when landing out of a vert trick, the revert lets you extend your combos. Unlike the previous games, which gave you no opportunity to extend combos from vert tricks, Tony Hawk 3 lets you initiate a manual move from a revert, enabling you to perform insanely long combos if your skills hold out.
In addition to the revert, Neversoft has added a suite of flatland tricks to the mix that initially require a bit of work to pull off. Before you can initiate the tricks, you'll have to build up your special meter, as the tricks require a full meter. Once that's done, you'll be able to execute a few different cool moves without even leaving the ground. The tricks can all be executed by pressing a combination of two directions and hitting button combinations. Skilled players will pull off caspers, anti-caspers, handstands, truckstands, and reemo slides among others.
Charging the special meter also figures prominently in initiating the new batch of special moves in the game. Once your special meter is full, experimenting with various button combinations will reward you with a variety of special moves. Dedicated players will find old and new tricks including the ghetto bird, 1-2-3-4, gazelle underflip, laser flip, Christ air, the 900, kickflip backflip, frontside 540, mctwist, slamma jamma, and the jackass, which causes your skater to grab the board, bounce it off his head, and place it back under his feet.
Tricks can also "branch" out and allow you to move from one trick to another without having to ollie. Flatland combos can begin at a handstand and flow into a manual to a rail to a truckstand. You'll also be able to transition from a manual to a pivot without missing a beat, which all becomes extremely useful to racking up points and increasing your score multiplier. You can combo lip tricks into one another without jumping. Execute a lip trick and then enter another lip-trick command, and your skater will transition into a different stall or plant. To help you link everything together without any tragic spills, the game offers balance meters for flatland tricks, lip tricks, and grinds.
On top of all of the above, THPS3 has hidden combos to discover that let you customize your tricks to a degree. For example, a kickflip can be done by pressing left and square--but hitting square twice will do a double kickflip, and three presses will do a triple kickflip. Other tricks, such as heelflips and 360 flips, can be initiated in different ways as well, providing gamers quite a bit to explore.
In our time with the game, we can safely say we only scratched the surface of what the game's robust trick system has to offer. The new tweaks, coupled with the already addictive nature of the gameplay, intrigue us and leave us anxious to get our hands on the final build of the game. Gamers eager to dig into Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 will have to wait a bit longer, unfortunately; the game is set to ship this November. Don't plan on doing much else for the rest of the year.