This is a must buy for Tony Hawk’s fans, skateboarding fans and even extreme sports fans alike

User Rating: 9.3 | Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 PS2
This is now the 4th installment in the ever popular Tony Hawks series and a welcome one at that. This game does not rest on the success of the previous games, infact the developers have completely changed the way the series is played while maintaining the core gameplay mechanics that have made Tony Hawks a hit to begin with. Gone are the 2 minute runs that saw you frantically rushing through levels to get all the goals complete before the clock runs down. Instead there are no time limits and in order to enter into a challenge you must find various people around the levels and press circle to enter into a conversation. They will give you a specific challenge and then said challenge must be completed individually, each with their own specific parameters. This may sound complicated and may indeed be sad news for the fans of the 2 minute runs but once you get used to it you will see the series has been revamped for the better. If only for the fact that the levels are much larger as result and would probably take around 2 minutes to get around in some instances.

The challenges within this game are a lot more varied than fans will be used to seeing, you will have the classics like “skate” and the high scores but you will also have new challenges like “combo” which is essentially like skate but you must reach all the 5 letters in a single combo or you fail. Sounds tough and to be honest the majority of the challenges are but it’s that extra level of difficulty that will be welcomed by most fans. Once you have completed the majority of these challenges you then unlock even harder ones known as ‘Pro Challenges’ which will more than test your skills as a skateboarding master. That’s not all though, each pro skater within the game also has their own unique ‘Pro Challenge’ which will see your skills pushed to the very limits. Whether it be hopping in a shopping trolley with Bam Margera the Jackass himself; hurtling yourself down steep slopes or it be stepping into Tony’s shoes and attempting to pull-off his trademark 900 over buildings. The fact is there is so much to complete on this game that the replay value increases quite significantly. Not only that but it is a hell of a lot less repetitive due to the fact you won’t have to complete this huge Story Mode with every skater, just the one is needed on this outing.

There are a couple of things worth mentioning in terms of enhanced gameplay and these come in the forms of the newly added ‘Spine Transfers’ and ‘Flatland Tricks’. Spine Transferring for the none skaters among us is essentially coming up a quarter-pipe and dropping over the jump and down the other side while hopefully staying on your board. This is done with a simple tap of R2 and pushes the limits of vertical skating within the game. As for the street side we have the addition of the ‘Flatland Tricks’ which give you so many more options, with the press of simple button combinations you will now be able to now pull off handstands and such without the need for a special meter. This is also true for the vertical tricks; double taps of circle instead of the standard single taps may see you pulling off tricks that were once classed specials like Christ Air or Sacktap. The result of this new system means there are so many more tricks than before and this is an essential part of the progression of any extreme sports game.

There have been a few other small additions to the series that are also worth a mention, now only do you need to complete all of the many challenges on offer which is more than enough gameplay. You also have to collect 25 cash icons from each level, these see you saving your dollars in order to buy thing’s such as new skaters, new levels and some crazy costumes that give you the option of creating old favourites like Ollie The Bum in the create-a-skater mode. Also there is now something called a Gap List within the menu, this lists all the gaps you will be required to find within each specific level. They can vary anywhere from 25 to 50 gaps per level and that adds up to a lot of gaps in total, they could be jumping from one ramp to another or something much crazier like grinding 10 rails and then landing on a specific piece of land. The name of each gap will usually give you some indication of what the gap is about and where you will find it but in all honesty you may find yourself using some form of FAQ if you want to find them all. The last thing worth mentioning are the 9 mini-games scattered in various places around the levels, these are silly little games that usually generate cash for your balance and see you doing crazy things like dodging poo-throwing monkeys or using your skateboard as a baseball bat. Once you have done all the following you will eventually finish this game with 100% completion which is no mean feat.

In graphical terms this game does it’s job well, it recreates places such as Kona in perfect detail and you should be more than impressed by the progression that the series has made from last year. There have been some small graphical enhancements from the previous game, textures are a little clearer, edges are a little more defined and animations are a little more animated. While this game does reuse many of the textures and animations it still looks noticeably better than its predecessor. You may experience some slight graphical glitches within the online portion of this game from time to time but not often enough to cause any real concern; I just thought it worth a mention. Some of the sound clips have also been reused from Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3 but again there are an equal amount of new sounds which do just enough to keep things fresh and interesting. Once again like in all previous installments in the Hawk series the soundtrack is superb, all the latest and greatest songs and some classics thrown in for good measure. Sex Pistols, AC/DC, Run DMC, Offspring and System of a Down are just some of the great artists on offer here and collectively the 30 tracks feel balanced in terms of variety.

All-in-all I would say this game is the most solid Tony Hawk’s game to date and I am writing this review after the release of Tony Hawks American Wasteland of this year. While I don’t think it is the most revolutionary installment or the most creative in terms of level design I do feel that this game as a whole package, lengthy story mode and all is unmatched by any extreme sports game from any era to date. Therefore this is a must buy for Tony Hawk’s fans, skateboarding fans and even extreme sports fans alike. Any serious game collector will undoubtedly have this game nestled nicely next to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. If you haven’t then what are you waiting for? you can pick it up for buttons on everyone’s favourite auction site right now.

Gameplay - Minor gameplay elements strengthen what is already a very solid and enjoyable gaming formula.

Graphics - Just enough graphical enhancements within the textures and animations to make this a great looking game in today’s market.

Sound - Some new sound and speech clips plus a fantastic soundtrack that any game would struggle to match.

Value - A huge story mode with many new collectables to keep you busy on your way to 100% completion plus a variety of multiplayer modes.