Way back in 1999, the world was about to end because the Star Trek fans began a global war against the Star Wars fans that would result in acres of unspeakable horror with broken glasses and shattered plastic lightsabers everywhere but this isn't about that. This is about Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, an arcade-action-sports-simulation type dealie game developed by a company called Neversoft and released by Activision. The game took the everyday thrill of riding a skateboard and made it X-TREME Do0dZ (sorry) by giving the player several tasks to complete per level. Most consisting of performing tricks or achieving a score of some type all within a 2 minute time limit. The formula worked well enough that a sequel was released a year later, then again and again. Which brings us to Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, the um...FOURTH entry in...the game...series...yeah. I didn't feel like getting screenshots from this game so instead I'll be using modified pictures from Skate or Die 1 and 2 to tell the tale of my created skater "Thunderwuss" enjoy.
For those familiar with the last three, the gameplay is still the same, complete the goal then do another one. That's just fine though cause we all know how fucked up things can get when developers try something new (see Metal Gear Solid 2's Raiden). As usual, the roster consist of all the pro skaters from previous installments, including Bob Burnquist who was absent from 3, for you to pick and take on your wacky summer fun voyage to the moon. Don't like the people here, then go ahead and make your own disfigured wreck of unholy evil in the updated Create-A-Skater. Afterwards, go ahead and enter the first level then JESUS FUCKING CHRIST WHAT DID THEY DO!? You'll now notice the changes made to separate THPS4 from the others. For starters, that no good fucking cheating time limit has been removed (it returns during a goal is attempt) so your free to skate around the levels at your leisure learning the best lines, hitting gaps and collecting cash. All the while you may notice people with giant arrows sticking out of their heads, obviously the poor victims of an Indian ambush, if you go up to one and offer to remove it for them they instead ask you to show off your MaD sK8ng Ski!!Z by giving you a goal to complete somewhere in the level.
Most goals are carryovers from the previous games such as Get a Sick Score and the return of our old friend Spell S-K-A-T-E but most are new such as completing a list of moves called out by onlookers, spelling C-O-M-B-O (while in a combo, OUTSTANDING!) and solving the mystery of the moat monster by doing kickflips. Completing each goal gets you some cash, Pro Points and occasionally a Stat Point. Stat Points are essential for making your skater an army of one as its boost their performance in whatever you add it to, I suggest using it for vitality cause it sucks trying to score 800,000 points in the Swamps of Everglade while having to hear "Skater needs food" every 30 seconds. Cash makes its return to the series in a truly unique and inspiring way (you can use it to purchase hidden skaters, bonus levels, cheats, whores, clothes, movies and boards) who would of thought of using money to buy things, BRILLIANT! Pro Points are used to unlock levels so you can spread Christmas joy to all the people of the world and open up harder goals and individual Pro Challenges which, upon completion, enables your skaters super sexy video of sexy superness. Seeing as each Pro has his/her own Pro Challenge, the developers did away with the painfully dull task of going through the entire game with each and every person. Now you just have to do the goals once and it counts for everyone which is good because if I had to ride behind that elephants ass anymore I might do something stupid like vote or donate to charity.
Graphic-wise, THPS4 is just an update of part 3's graphics with new animations for bails and added tricks. Everything and everyone looks like its suppose to so there really isn't anything to complain about, I mean it's a skateboarding game for crying out loud if you want lighting effects or realistic character models try looking elsewhere.
In the sound department, the good people at Neversoft felt they should invite all the skaters in and let them record their own voices to use for bails and goal descriptions, I wish they didn't. Don't get me wrong, it's not like they did a bad job or anything it's just that hearing them talk gave me flashbacks to high school where this one kid would always communicate in ghetto speak. It was sad hearing someone talk like that back then and its still sad now, only this time I have to listen to it or else I won't know which "old school money rail I gotsta grind cuz". Ok, that's not an exact quote but you get the idea and thankfully not everyone talks like that or do they??? As for the soundtrack, it all depends on your taste in music. It's obvious they tried to put in something for everyone but forgot about fans of Country, Blues, Techno, Jazz, Funk, Bluegrass and Christian Rock but everyone knows Christian Rock isn't real music anyway and I'm better off not having Creed in the game.
The controls here are just like the others both in response and button layout (I'm playing the PS2 version, don't know about the others) so veterans of the series and newcomers should have no trouble getting accustomed to it.
There you have it, Tony Hawks Pro Skater 4 is a great update to an already great game. I would have gone more into it and explain what I didn't like about it but other than the useless cheats and pointless secret characters, I really didn't hate anything else.
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