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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 Review
PIII-800, 256MB RAM, 32MB Video Card, 700MB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Aug 27, 03 (released)
|» All About Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 on ActionTrip|
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (THPS) games successfully prevailed over the years thanks to a majority of fans loyal both to Tony and the THPS series. Sticking to the long tradition of this successful franchise Activision released the fourth installment in the series to next-generation consoles bringing along some improvements to the gameplay. Almost a year later, the game was ported to the PC, thanks to the efforts of Aspyr and Beenox (the developer).
In any case, I'm sure all of you know what THPS game are all about, right? Basically, you should forget about any perplexing tactics and puzzles, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 is all about performing unbelievable stunts and earning as many points and much cash as you can in order to unlock new stages and challenges. This time around players will be able to select from 14 professional skateboarders, such as Tony Hawk (duh), Rune Glifberg, Bob Burnquist, Bucky Lasek, Steve Caballero, and more. As you suit up your favorite skater and choose the appropriate gear, you will be ready to hit the streets and prepare for a killer run.
The biggest change over the previous game is that players are spared the two minute time limit, during which they were obliged to complete a variety of stunts. To make things a bit simpler, the developers have scattered a certain number of bystanders within each challenge. Talking to them will offer you a chance to complete a series of combos and moves. Once you've accepted the offer, a timer will start ticking away as you attempt to complete your task to gain points and cash awards. Each goal you complete unlocks a variety of pro challenges - there are 190 goals in the entire game. These pro challenges are what makes Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 a thrilling ride, as you watch your character finishing some impressive tricks throughout diverse city districts. As you'd expect, pro challenges are a lot more difficult to complete than usual stunts, but eventually, after you get used to the surroundings and level structure, you might be able to pull off even some of the deadliest aerial tricks. On top of these additional features, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 also sets new types of objectives before players. Most of the innovative objectives require you to finish several combo-based goals until you've achieved an exact score. As you go through numerous challenges and goals, you will be able to earn cash and stat points. Ultimately, you improve your kickflips, heelflips, melons, ollies, as well as the general performance of your character. Another cool thing is that gaining such enhancements unlocks extra tricks and aerial stunts, which you can then use at any time throughout your skateboarding career. In addition to that, cash gives you the opportunity to improve your skateboard by purchasing different parts and add-ons. The game offers an impressive choice of additional parts, so you'll spend a lot of time in between sessions, designing and tweaking your ideal ride.
When it comes down to the gameplay, there are a couple of things that may hinder certain players from enjoying this game to the fullest. For starters, it's gonna take you a while to get a grip on the controls, since there are many keys that need to be memorized in order to pull off different moves. As such, I think that many gamers might not be satisfied with the keyboard option. This has always been an issue with every PC port in the series - players who are used to console controllers will probably find the PC controls somewhat frustrating. So, in order to fully enjoy this or any THPS game, buy a gamepad and plug it into your PC before trying this game out. Of course, using the keyboard as the control system is not impossible; it just takes forever when you compare it to the straightforward console controls, which the game was so obviously optimized for. Experienced THPS players won't have any problems though. Anyhow, after playing the game for some time, it became obvious to me that, regardless of the somewhat steep learning curve, the game still has that special addictive quality that can keep any player occupied for hours.
As far as the visuals are concerned, it's sad to see the PC version suffering great loss of texture detail on account of poor console graphics. It's quite obvious that the game's graphics didn't improve much since the PS2 version. Granted, the graphics do look considerably sharper when players run the game in 1280*1024 resolution. Still, that cannot be regarded as a particularly impressive visual improvement over the console version. It's been almost a year and, frankly, we expected to see a lot more detail in there. I always keep returning to GTA: Vice City when it comes to successful PC ports; Rockstar knew what they were doing and they put a great deal of thought and effort into improving the overall quality of the graphics. Ultimately, the game was way better on the PC than on the PS2. (Oh c'mon; those fucking helicopter controls were MADE for the gamepad! - 2Lions) That's the way it should've been in THPS 4. We were disappointed when we saw that most surfaces throughout the levels have blurry texture patterns - a typical visual downer in most (if not all) PS2 games. Also, for some mysterious reason, the game treated us to a somewhat choppy framerate, which was unforgivable bearing in mind that we tried it on a 2 GHz Athlon with an ATi Radeon 9700.
The audio is as fabulous as ever, with rich high-quality sounds in the background and a soundtrack that features various tracks from top-notch artists, ranging from The Cult, Sex Pistols, Offspring, AC/DC, and many more. With all these components fitted into the audio, the game can remain extremely addictive for a long time.
The multiplayer can bear up to 8 players, which coincides perfectly with the new wide open areas you can skate in (the previous game allowed only 4 players per match). Next to the standard CTF matches, players may also engage in several innovative modes, such as the score attack, Combo Mambo, and Goal Attack. These proved to be a lot of fun, especially when you gather a great number of friends to compete against. Although online support is included in the game, we did not find it particularly gratifying. We barely managed to connect to the available servers - ah crap, who wants to play THPS games online anyway? (I can already hear the angry fanboys screaming at you, VADAR - 2Lions)
In spite of the tough start newbies are likely to experience, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 is a fun and addictive rush that anyone should try out at least. Besides, I'm sure that by now players are certain of what they're getting into when playing THPS games. They have always offered a solid slice of skateboarding goodness, bringing a few pleasing innovations with each new installment. So you can't go wrong either way. It's just a question of how much you enjoy skateboarding as a sport.
8.2 Very Good
Live out the skateboarder's dream on your PC. Nice character animation and a variety of huge levels to perform tricks in. New challenges system streamlines the gameplay and makes the ride a lot more exciting;
The visuals don't appear to differ much from the PS2 and Xbox versions. It may take inexperienced gamers a while to get the hang of it. Steep system requirements.
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