Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 Review

  • First Released Oct 30, 2001
  • PS

If you're not ready to commit to the PlayStation 2 yet, and you've grown weary of the levels in Tony Hawk 2, then Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 is just the ticket.

With the Neversoft team's work in such high demand, it simply doesn't have the time to produce anything less than marquee games for marquee systems. So Neversoft is too busy with the PS2, GameCube, and Xbox versions of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 to also worry about scaling the game down for the PlayStation. Fortunately, there are other developers up to the task. Since staking its claim as the premiere action sports publisher, Activision has been able to attract other talented action sports developers such as Treyarch, which is currently working on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x for the Xbox, and Shaba Games, the team responsible for the PlayStation port of Tony Hawk 3. Considering that Shaba has been charged with porting a game designed for the PlayStation 2 to the PlayStation, and considering the sizeable shoes it has to fill, it has done a serviceable job of bringing Tony Hawk 3 to the original PlayStation.

The Tony Hawk games have essentially been using the same game engine and trick system for last two years, and Tony Hawk 3 does little to deviate from that trend. The formula is simple. You skate through levels, executing tricks for points, collecting items, and completing level-specific goals in order to progress to the next level. While the PS2 version of Tony Hawk 3 introduces a slew of new mechanics to the franchise's already deep trick system, the only one included in the PlayStation version is the revert. This single addition has a profound effect on how the game is played, though. Just as the manual facilitated chaining together independent grind tricks, the revert makes it possible to chain multiple vert tricks into a single combo. This works by pressing R2 as soon as you come in from a vert trick, after which you can change into a manual and move on to your next trick. It's a bit disappointing that some of the other new changes included in the PS2 version of Tony Hawk 3 didn't make it into this version, like the ability to transition from one grind to another without leaving the rail or the double and triple kickflips, but truthfully, the revert is the most significant of any of these changes.

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Aside from trimming down on the changes to the game mechanics, there have been other noteworthy cuts made to accommodate the PlayStation's inferior processing power and storage capacity. Naturally, since the PlayStation has no Internet capabilities to speak of, the game can't be played online. The create-a-skater mode no longer includes female skaters, and it's more akin to the Tony Hawk 2 create-a-skater mode than the one found in the PS2 version of Tony Hawk 3. The tutorial mode has been removed entirely. The ability to change the topography of the levels is absent, which is most noticeable in the LA level, where the freeway exists in its shattered post-earthquake form from the get-go. This effect was used extensively in the PS2 version, and Shaba has had to make a lot of changes to the level goals and level design to keep things running smoothly without it. From the airport to the Skater Island park, the general workings of the PS2 levels is maintained, but a few unique changes have been added along the way. The size of the levels has pretty much remained unchanged between versions, which is a bit of a surprise, as they far outsize those found in Tony Hawk 2.

In a time where the PlayStation 2 is the dominant console, and the GameCube and the Xbox are just around the corner, it can be a chore to even look at the jaggy, low-res graphics of the antiquated PlayStation. Shaba Games does the best it can with the elderly hardware, and the game comes out looking none too shabby. The draw-in level is only noticeable in the wide-open areas in some of the larger levels, and it never interferes with the gameplay. The frame rate remains consistent, the skater animations look relatively smooth, and the textures remain generally sharp and varied. It certainly won't impress anyone at this point in the game, but Shaba has taken the PlayStation hardware just about as far as it can go.

The Tony Hawk games have always been commended on their top-notch sound production, and this game is no different. The soundtrack consists of a diverse catalog of licensed music, including the Ramones, Ozomatli, Zebrahead, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, AFI, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Motorhead, who's "Ace of Spades" serves as the game's title track. It doesn't include some of the tracks found in the PlayStation 2 version, most noticeably CKY's "96 Quite Bitter Beings," but there are still enough tracks to keep you from growing tired of the music too quickly. The sound effects are equally satisfying, with varying sounds depending on what kind of surface you're skating on, the realistic clink of your trucks hitting a rail, and, of course, the grunt of your skater when he or she takes a fall.

When it comes down to it, the PlayStation version of Tony Hawk 3 simply cannot compete with the PS2 version--they're not even in the same league. But it's truly unfair to compare the two versions of the game. When compared with any other PlayStation skating game out there, Tony Hawk 3 rates quite favorably. If you're not ready to commit to the PlayStation 2 yet, and you've grown weary of the levels in Tony Hawk 2, then Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 is just the ticket.

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