Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: January 30, 2002
Neversoft exploded onto the gaming scene when they released Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for the PlayStation; for all that they had done before and all that they will do in the future, that one release defined their role in gaming history. Never before had a title so intuitively invited you to participate in a sport which, until that moment, had been fairly arcane and difficult to control, or just plain oversimplified. Single-handedly ushering the Extreme Sports movement into the realm of the console, Mr. Hawk’s game spawned countless clones and knockoffs. Despite their best efforts, none of these seem to have captured that elemental magic that makes the Pro Skater series such an enduring classic. One has to wonder, though, whether Pro Skater 2 had taken things as far as they could go. Had the last vert been mastered and the last rail been ground? With the release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, Neversoft seems to be certain that there’s even more air to grab and moves to program. Well, the proof, as they say is in the pudding. Read on to see if Tony can remain king of the heap, or whether he’s lost his magic touch.
If you are a first time skater and managed to miss the first two editions of this series, it won’t take you long to get up to speed in the world of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. The plot, such as it is, places you in the shoes of a skilled, but still green, skater looking to make his way through a professional career. Picking from a roster of major talent, or crafting a skater of your own, you will enter into a level and immediately begin skating around. Each level has tons of objects you would conceivably find scattered about the appropriate venue and as you will quickly discover, every one of these objects can be interacted with in some way.
For real novices, Neversoft has kindly provided a Tutorial mode this time out, narrated by none other than the esteemed pro skater himself. Starting you with the basics like ollies, kick moves and grinds, Tony will eventually work his way into instructing you on wall rides, manuals and more. Offering a controlled environment with limited obstacles or distractions, greenhorns can cut their teeth and practice lip tricks, stalls and more to their hearts’ content.
While most veterans will eschew training in favor of leaping into the action, one very key move has been added to the Tony Hawk roster, which must absolutely be mastered. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 introduced us to the concept of the manual, the skateboarding equivalent of popping a wheelie. What made a manual such a key skill was its ability to count as a trick maneuver, meaning you could chain moves together by pulling a manual between moves. Manuals, however, are impossible after an aerial maneuver and as such, most trick chains would end immediately following big air. With the newly introduced revert, you can perform a quick spin just as you come down off a ramp and pop your board into a manual, allowing you to chain a theoretically limitless number of tricks together.