Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 Review
Anyone with even a remote interest in either the genre or the real-life sport should purchase this game as soon as possible.
It's hard to believe that it's only been three years since the release of the first game in the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series. The original 1999 game launched an entire genre, and now several publishers are on the action sports bandwagon in a big way, eating off the table that Tony Hawk built. Activision has turned the success of the series into an entire line of similar products, but of course, the Tony Hawk series has always been the jewel in the crown. The yearly installments in the series have all featured pretty dramatic improvements on all fronts, while retaining some of the core gameplay mechanics that emphasize timing, skill, and creativity. On the surface, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 appears to make only minor changes to the formula, taking the career mode in a new direction and adding some seemingly minor gameplay elements. But as you play the game more and more, the value of the small tweaks and changes becomes pretty obvious, adding up to what's certainly another outstanding installment in the series.
Like Acclaim's great inline skating game from earlier this year, Aggressive Inline, Tony Hawk 4 does away with the two-minute time limit so commonly associated with the genre. While this takes away the exciting challenge of trying to accomplish all of a level's objectives in one run, the game's larger levels would make such an effort impossible anyway. Instead, goals in Tony Hawk 4 are spread throughout the level in the form of various bystanders with big arrows floating above their heads. Skating up to them and hitting the grab trick button will talk to the person and start the goal, which then starts a timer. Many of the goals are the same sort of things that the series has featured all along. You'll still have to reach certain score plateaus by pulling off long strings of tricks, you'll still have to collect or break various goal-specific items, and you'll still collect the letters that spell skate. New types of objectives include some combo-based goals, which ask you to beat a specific score with one combo. You'll also have to collect letters that spell the word combo--all without landing your combo until the word is complete. The size of each area lets the game pack a lot more goals into each of the game's nine levels, and some goals are only available once other goals have been met. Completing a goal also earns you upgrades for your skater, such as cash, new slots for special tricks, or stat points.
All this goal completing leads up to unlocking the pro challenges, which become available when you've collected 90 of the game's 190 total goals. Goals can be completed with any of the game's skaters, so you won't have to play through the game multiple times to see all there is to see. But the pro challenges ensure that you'll still play the game with every skater. These challenges are larger in scope than your average goal, and many of them attempt to tie in to a skater's actual career. For example, Tony Hawk's pro challenge has you gapping from one rooftop ramp to another, doing specific tricks as you go. Bam Margera's takes after his popular CKY series of videos, putting the Jackass star in a shopping cart and challenging you to race, hurdle, and slalom your way from the top of Alcatraz down to the bottom. Bob Burnquist, who is one of the two Tony Hawk 4 pro skaters who weren't in last year's game, has a pro challenge that is styled after his event-winning performance at the Op King of Skate competition, which aired on Pay-Per-View earlier this year. In that competition, Bob opened up the top section of a full loop and rode all the way around it. In the game, you'll take this one step further, doing specific tricks while gapping the ever-widening break in the loop. The pro challenges are unique, more difficult than your average goal, and quite a lot of fun. Completing a pro challenge unlocks that skater's ending video and also opens up a new collection of more difficult goals in every level.
Many of the level goals in Tony Hawk 4 will be pretty difficult even for series veterans, so accomplishing them will be really satisfying. The game throws some strict time limits at you in some of the goals, and some of the later combo goals are tough to pull off. In previous games, failing a goal or missing a jump meant that you had to spend time skating around to get back in position. Here, when you fail a goal, you can use the pause menu to jump right back to the start of that goal, instantly. This gives the game a real trial-and-error feel, letting you reattempt the same combo line over and over again until you finally get it, though being able to restart a goal at any point keeps this from getting frustrating. You can also jump to any goal that you have previously tried, which is a handy way to skip around from place to place in a level.
- Player Reviews: 13
- Game Universe:
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (DC, N64, PS, GBC, NGE),
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (PS, PC, DC, GBC, N64, GBA, MAC, IP),
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (XBOX, PS2, GC, PS, GBC, PC, GBA, N64, MAC),
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (MAC, PS2, GC, XBOX, GBA, PS, PC, ZOD, MOBILE),
- Tony Hawk's Underground (PS2, XBOX, GC, GBA, MOBILE, PC),
- Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (MOBILE, PS2, XBOX, GC, PC, PSP, GBA),
- Tony Hawk's American Wasteland (XBOX, GC, PS2, X360, PC),
- Tony Hawk's American Sk8land (DS, GBA),
- Tony Hawk's Project 8 (X360, PS3, PSP, XBOX, PS2),
- Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam (PS2, WII, DS, GBA)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: