When Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 was released for the PC, it was the first skateboarding game I ever played. Despite its arcade style gameplay, it was love at first sight. Now, a while after the PS2 release, THPS3 is also available for the PC. I wasn’t really man enough to wait for the PC release, so I finished it (well, almost) on the PS2 two months ago. I only had the game for a week though, as I had borrowed the console from a friend. When I got my greedy hands on the PC version, I was still happy though because of the possibility to play online, and the fact that I don’t have a PS2 of my own.
So, what’s new compared to THPS2? I must say that I was sort of disappointed at first, because the graphics didn’t seem that much better than those of the previous game, but some of the levels look pretty good. At 1280x1024x32bit with Quincunx AA it does look very good, but this will require a GF3 class or better card. My old GF2 GTS choked at 1024x768x32bit without AA at some points. It does leave the PS2 version in the dust, however.
The gameplay is also pretty much the same, so Tony Hawk veterans will be able to jump right into the action without much problem. The only real new feature is the revert, a new trick which you can do when landing in a ramp, and it isn’t that significant. I’m using a 4-button gamepad though so I can’t even use the revert, but it didn’t really bother me. Otherwise you will be doing the same type of tricks with long rail and manual combos resulting in very high scores. Unfortunately, low scores for vertical tricks, the one thing that bothered me in THPS2, are even more highlighted in THPS3. Getting the higher score goals in ramps is pretty much impossible, while they aren’t that hard when doing long combos. Overall the game is a bit harder than its predecessor, which is a good thing since there aren’t that many levels and goals to complete.
The levels are mostly pretty good, with a couple of gems that really stand out. What I would’ve liked to see more of is multiplayer levels, since the normal levels are sometimes too big for smaller multiplayer games. Some of the goals aren’t static anymore, and will change according to the character you are using, but this isn’t really significant enough to make you want to replay the game many times. A bigger change is that the stat points aren’t tied to level goals and money like before. Instead, you will gain them by collecting icons scattered around the levels. Loading times are minimal, so you can get into the action straight away without waiting.
Multiplayer is probably what I like the most in THPS3 compared to THPS2. There are many different modes available, and they maintain the fun of the game well after you’ve finished it. Some of them are familiar to most of us from first-person shooters, such as capture the flag, while others are unique to THPS3. Graffiti is one of the new modes, and it is a lot of fun. In it you collect “graffitis” by doing a trick on a ramp, rail or other part of the map, and by doing so it changes into your colour. If the opponent gets a higher score in the same place, he’ll steal the graffiti from you and it changes to his colour. The one with the most graffitis at the end of the round wins. I’ve only played two player games so far because I’ve been having trouble finding people to play with. This makes some modes like ctf boring, but with 8 players (the maximum) most of the modes should be a lot of fun.
The music follows the same pattern as THPS2, so if you liked the music in that one, then you’ll probably like the new songs too. And if you don’t, just replace the files, as they are normal MP3′s.
Unfortunately, THPS3 isn’t all good, as there are bugs that haven’t been fixed yet (1.01 patch fixes a few). One problem is missing sounds, which is only fixed by reloading the level. There are also clipping problems in many levels which gets really annoying from time to time since you can get stuck inside walls or ramps. I’ve also had some problems joining multiplayer games, so there definitely is a need for a patch.
I’ve really enjoyed this game though, despite the bugs and lackings, and I recommend it to anyone who liked THPS2. If you didn’t, then you probably won’t like the new one either.