Tony Hawk series has revolutionized the extreme sports genre.
However, the series seemed to become stagnant by the third
installment. The innovation seemed to die. In fact, games like
Aggressive Inline actually took innovative strides past the Tony
Hawk series by adding in different gameplay styles that made the
game more fun. Not to be outdone, the fourth installment of the Tony
Hawk series brings back the innovation to the series and completely
raises the bar that all other extreme sport games will try to reach.
gameplay style has been completely changed. Instead of getting two
minutes to attempt goals in a level, players can skate around and
activate goals at will. In other words, you have unlimited time in
the levels. If you do not complete a goal, you do not have to go
through all the menus. You simply just pause the game and restart
the goal from a provided checklist. Each individual goal still has a
time limit, but being able to explore levels without a time pressure
actually makes the game less frustrating. Most of the goals may seem
familiar. Traditional favorites (or un-favorites) like collection
S-K-A-T-E and racking up high scores return. We also see new
challenges like collecting C-O-M-B-O (collect all the letters in one
combo) and other level-specific challenges. One major change that
many will notice is in the Career Mode. Instead of having to perform
the same challenges over and over with the 14 pros, you only have to
do them once. Before you say this is too easy, there is a catch.
Neversoft has added "Pro Challenges" to the career mode.
Each pro skater has their own specific challenge found on one of the
stages. These challenges are more difficult than the regular ones
and have some sort of relation to a feat done by that pro in real
life. For example, Tony Hawkís Pro Challenge takes place on a
rooftop. You have to pull tricks over a roof gap. After each series
of tricks, the gap becomes larger and the tricks become harder until
finally ending with performing special tricks such as the famed 900
over a huge gap. Bam Margeraís Pro Challenge is a take on one of
his stunts from MTVís Jackass. He rides a shopping cart down a
hill, then rides it down with hurdles and finally rides it down
slalom style. By performing these challenges, you unlock the proís
video. Secret skaters, levels and cheat codes are unlocked at the
Skate shop by collecting money throughout the stages or by
performing the challenges. If the initial list of goals looks short,
donít worry. You eventually unlock more goals to complete after a
certain percentage of the game is completed.
to the series are mini-games. Several stages have certain points in
them where you can activate a mini-game to earn money. In the
college stage, you can play tennis using your board as a racket. In
San Francisco, you mash the buttons on your controller to save sea
lions from a shark. There are more, but Iíll let you discover them
for yourselves. Whatís the reward for playing these games? You get
cash. Each game has a limited amount of cash to give out. You can
keep playing it to earn some money. Aside from that, theyíre
actually either fun to play or funny to watch (Zoo...thatís all I
have to say).
has also added a few new tricks in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4. First,
the additions of spine transfers allows for some really interesting
trick combinations. In order to do a spine transfer, you go up a
spine ramp and press both triggers while in the air. You then
transfer to the other side. If youíve played Aggressive Inline,
you know the drill because it is pretty much the same. You can now
skitch behind vehicles (much like in Aggressive Inline). To do this,
skate behind a vehicle and press up. Your skater will grab the back
of the vehicle. To stay attached, you need to watch your balance
meter (similar to a grind or manual). Aside from these new additions
and a few, more spectacular (and unrealistic) special tricks, the
trick list is pretty much the same as the other Tony Hawk games.
Create-a-Skater option has progressed smoothly. Before, the feature
did not seem to actually work in practice because players were
fairly limited in what they could do. Now, the option resembles the
Create-a-Wrestler option present in the Wrestling games of a few
years ago. The mode is still further behind than it should be, but
the progressive steps between games were huge. Hair actually looks
right and you can now tattoo all parts of the body. The one drawback
is the clothing. There are numerous options, but there should be
even more (especially more logos for shirts). Also, hats and helmets
negate long hair. Hopefully Neversoft tweaks this by the next
installment of this series.
have come a long way in this series. It is not really noticeable at
first because the addictive gameplay takes most of your attention.
If you compare this title to the previous three games, the graphical
changes seem to jump out. This is the best looking extreme sports
game out there. Skaters are starting to resemble their real-life
counterparts more closely than before. Stages are now massive and
have people walking around in them. Besides people, there is also
traffic, carnival rides and many other moving objects that make the
world seem more realistic and fleshed out instead of the closed off
feel that most stages in the previous game had.
people may gripe with the soundtrack. While Tony Hawk 3 (and to a
lesser extent Tony Hawk 2) featured a soundtrack made up of
mainstream artists, Tony Hawk 4ís soundtrack consists of bands
that 90% of the people playing may not have heard of. Regardless,
there is a good mix of punk, ska, metal, rap and hip hop as well as
a few tracks recorded by a few of the skaters featured in the game.
If youíre not a big fan of the stock soundtrack, you can also use
your Xboxís hard drive to create your own soundtrack. Thanks to
this feature, every single player should be satisfied with the
game falls short in multiplayer. Sure, they added a few new modes
such as Capture the Flag and Score Challenge, but they are only good
for two players or system linked games. Some of the better
multiplayer modes are Graffiti (tricks on objects mark it with your
color) and Score Challenge (whoever hits the set score first wins).
Notably missing is an online multiplayer mode. One has to wonder
what is going through the minds of developers to make them not
include some sort of online play in a game for a console that is
defining online play. There is absolutely no excuse for the lack of
Xbox Live support on this title as you cannot even play a few of the
multiplayer modes without System-Link. It strikes me as odd that
they support System-Link (something that few people take advantage
of) and not Xbox Live (a service that is taking off with many
users). What is even more shocking is the PS2 version of Tony Hawk
Pro Skater 4 has online play. This raises even more eyebrows as to
why the Xbox version does not have online play.
replay value of this game depends on the gamer. Some people can play
the Tony Hawk games for months on end without getting tired of them,
while others shelf them once they finish the goals. If youíve
played other Tony Hawk games, you should have an idea of what to
expect with the replay factor. Remember, this game is not as
repetitive, so you will not get sick of the career mode as quickly
as in the previous games. Even with this in mind, I found this game
just as addictive in the short term but quickly lost interest when
another game hit my desk.
Hawk Pro Skater 4 takes a much needed innovative step forward.
Apparently, the designers saw games like Aggressive Inline and
followed that example. The one major and glaring flaw with this game
that assaulted the final score is the lack of online multiplayer for
the Xbox version. Even though this game was released before Xbox
Live launched, it is inexcusable to not include online features.
This limits the gameís overall appeal because the lack of a real
multiplayer mode kills replay value. Sure, it has system-link and
head to head. I have to ask, "Who actually uses
system-links?" Head to head is fun, but it canít last as long
as online play. While the score I give this game is still fairly
high, it should be known that I took off a full point because of the
glaring lack of online play.