Okay, so you played Tony Hawk 3, you thought it was cool, but the goals got easy, and it got repetitive to beat it with every character (if you even bothered.) So you're jonesin' for some new levels, new moves, and other cool stuff. You shall not be disappointed, my friend.
Neversoft hasn't failed you this time, offering up a completely revamped game that builds on the last one, but takes a much different approach. Let's cover how:
That's right. Non-linear. Let me clarify, because I thought THPS was pretty non-linear before this one. In previous versions of the game, you approached each level in "runs" of two minutes, where you could try to satisfy as many of the goals as you wanted, whether it be the high score, collecting S-K-A-T-E, or finding the secret tape. In the new version, you are basically in a "free skate" mode all the time, until you either find a sprite in the game who offers you a goal (don't worry, they're marked with big red arrows over them), or you can bring up a list of goals that you've already been offered from the pause menu. This gives you the opportunity to quickly retry a goal from the same spot if you fail, but also limits you to satisfying only one goal at a time. It also adds another condition, that will be covered in the next section.
Advancement overall in the game has also been changed. The normal levels, special trick slots, and stat points are awarded based on how much money you have accumulated throughout the game. Decks, bonus levels, bonus characters, cheats, special videos, and extra clothes can all be purchased at the players' choice. All tricks are available to all players. It should be noted, however, that all the cheats that you can buy in the game are entirely cosmetic. There is no perfect balance, moon physics, or super-stats cheat that is earnable.
So, like THPS2, you earn cash for performing goals, and additional cash is lying all over every level. The hard part is reaching it.
No Re-Doing Goals
That's right. In previous issues, if you wanted to beat the game with 13 characters, you had to do everything 13 times. Now, once a goal is done, it's done. Which is a good thing because there are 190 different goals in this baby, and repeating all of those would really, really suck. But, the game does keep track of how quickly you completed most goals, and you can retry them to get a better time.
Let's face it, the goals in the old games were getting stale. Find S-K-A-T-E. Score a lot of points. Do this trick on this object. And you had 2 minutes to do everything. Yawn.
Well, those have all stayed, with the exception of the "Find the secret tape" goal, which really didn't make much sense after THPS. Things have changed. Aside from how they can be tackled, new types of goals themselves have been added. Here are a few examples:
- Race - You have to get to a certain number of checkpoints in order in a given amount of time, or ahead of a computer-operated, such as a police motorcycle or a monkey.
- Find all the (blanks) - While similar to goals in the older games, they get considerably harder in this version, due to the goal time being shortened considerably. You are often forced to find all the objects in one combo so that the clock doesn't beat you, and there are sometimes a lot more than five things to find.
- Do the tricks they call out - An update of the "do this trick" goal, you are given a time limit (usually two minutes), and have to perform all of the tricks that appear on the screen in that time. This can be very difficult, and in some cases, all must be performed on/over a certain obstacle.
- C-O-M-B-O - Kind of like S-K-A-T-E, except all of the letters must be gathered in one combo. Not for those who give up easily.
- Competitions - Where in the other games, entire levels were operated as competitions, now every level has a goal that is to medal in the competition. Don't worry though, they bring in a bunch of ramps and stuff so you aren't just limited to the objects at hand. Except for one level, where it's a flat-ground competition.
- Pro Goals - For every character (except bonus characters), there is a Pro Goal. This Pro Goal is individual to the character, and is oftentimes very hard (I'm still working on Rune's). But, once you defeat one Pro-Goal, a whole new facet of the game is revealed. About 5 new goals per level is unveiled, and these fresh goals put the old ones to shame. Patience, grasshopper.
Another cool thing is how the goals are presented. Where in previous games, the goals were presented as the level loaded, now you have to go out and find somebody (with a big arrow over them) to give you a goal. The cool part is, they have actual sound bytes of the person telling you to do stuff. And that reminds me of another point. For all the "ouch," and "dammits" that the character says when he wipes out, it's an actual sound byte of the real person saying it. It's fun to hear Rune Glifberg curse in Danish.
In case skateboarding with completely unreal qualities doesn't entertain you enough, most levels have at least one minigame. So, if you get bored, you can play some tennis, play baseball, catch eggs, play dodgeball, bet on hookers or rhinos, or just try to win a log sawing competition.
The levels in this game are great. Packed with gaps, and boatloads of objects, they truly didn't hold anything back in this one. Here they are:
- College - do all colleges have half-pipes an pools all over the place?
- San Francisco - with the Embarcadero and hubba ledge, as well as pier 17.
- Alcatraz - a multilevel island with gaps galore
- Kona - Kona skatepark, digitally reproduced, in the spirit of Burnside.
- Shipyard - yet again, an everyday place that has quarterpipes and ledges all over the place. Don't fall in the water!
- London - Rowley's homeland, with bobbies and all. Featuring the south bank!
- The Zoo - A dream come true, with elephants, rhinos, giraffes, and poo-throwing monkeys.
- Carnival - crazy gaps and goals, with hicks and a festive atmosphere.
- Chicago - featuring the Grant Park fountain, of Married with Children fame, and the Illinois River.
Well, you've got to give them credit. Considering that you only really use 8 of the buttons on the controller, there are a multitude of tricks available at any one time. Neversoft added 8 grab and flip trick slots by giving you the option of hitting the grab or flip button twice, to "doubly tweak" a grab, or extend a flip. For example, an airwalk can become a Christ air, and a japan can become a one-foot japan. Flips work like they did in THPS3, except now you can extend them all. Double-tapping on a varial kickflip makes it a 360 flip, and a double-tap on a hardflip makes it a 360 hardflip. You get the idea.
Now, with every new version of the game, the developers added a new awesome move, that made much higher scores possible. THPS2, it was the manual. THPS3, it was the revert. Well, instead of one new move that was great, they added three that are okay.
The first is spine transfers. Two quarterpipes, with their curved sides facing away from each other, form a spine. Where in older versions, you could only hold the up button to transfer out of a pool or vert, now if you hit R2 while in the air, you can turn it into a spine transfer, if it happens to be one side of a spine, and come down on the vert on the other side. If it isn't a spine, you land on the flat underneath you. It's a useful tool for when you accidentally fly off the side of a vert ramp, and would otherwise just faceplant. Keep in mind though, you do lose all your speed if you just land on flat.
Second is skitching. Skitching is when you grab on to a vehicle (such as a car, motorcycle, or elephant) and ride along, picking up the speed of the vehicle. You do have to maintain balance while doing this (similar to rail balance), and can ollie off at any time, and take advantage of this otherwise unreachable speed. For example, after coming off of a fast skitch, 1680 degrees spins are not unheard of. That's pretty fast, and high.
Last, but certainly not least, are the flat-ground tricks. While THPS2 and 3 each had a couple as special moves, now they are standard issue to every character. To do a flatground trick, you must be in a manual. Then, every different two-button combination of the flip, grind, and grab buttons puts you in a new trick. The flip button twice produces the flip of the trick that you are in, and as an added bonus, the R2 button can be pressed to pivot, and add to your score. Tricks that can be done include casper, anti-casper, pogo, switch-foot pogo, truckstand, one-foot manual, handstand, and railstand.
And, of course, it's the same old crowd. Except now, Bam Margera and Bob Burnquist are on the game at the same time. Here's the whole crew, with their Pro-Goal outlined.
- Tony Hawk - in the College level, you must perform a series of tricks across a vert gap. As the tricks get harder, the gap gets bigger.
- Bob Burnquist - in the Zoo level, similar setup to Tony's, except the gap is across the top of a loop with the top section missing. Very disorienting.
- Steve Caballero - in the Kona level, You are performing a doubles routine with BMXer Rick Thorne. Land a series of air tricks over him, and lip tricks under him.
- Kareem Campbell - in San Francisco, you must complete the flip tricks as they come up, and do them over roof gaps, or else they don't count. Then come flip tricks that must be in the same combos (only one over a gap, though), and a final mega-combo with 5 flip tricks, at least one over a roof gap.
- Custom Skater - in the Shipyard, one of the oddest goals. You have to hit the five detonators in one combo while avoiding the dynamite on the ground, and end it with a lip trick on a helicopter.
- Rune Glifberg - in Alcatraz, perform the mini-goals as they come up. They include special moves over objects, and center on the pool.
- Eric Koston - in the Shipyard, K-grind the cables. Basically, crooked grind the three re-ally long cables that you get lined up with.
- Bucky Lasek - again in the Shipyard, you have to perform 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, and 200,000 point combos on a giant halfpipe with a small spine in the middle. Also, parts of the ramps disappear with each combo goal you complete.
- Bam Margera - in Alcatraz, it's shopping cart racing! You get to race in a shopping cart down the set of switchbacks three times, for speed, hurdles, and slalom.
- Rodney Mullen - in Kona, you have to perform the three different that are all composed of tricks that Mullen has invented. The combos all have 4 tricks.
- Chad Muska - in San Francisco. I don't really understand how this goal works. It says something about a "beat-meter" and stuff, but I just tried to score as many points as possible. It seemed to work.
- Andrew Reynolds - in San Francisco, monster gaps. Get some speed, and do the prescribed tricks (double kickflips and triple heelflips) over the gaps they line you up with. 3 tricks per gap, on 4 gaps.
- Geoff Rowley - in London, you have to perform the prescribed flips into the prescribed grinds with the prescribed flip trick coming off of it. A few different goals, with 3 different prescriptions per goal.
- Elissa Steamer - in Alcatraz. Similar to Andrew Reynolds's, but with more special moves. 3 tricks per gap on three gaps.
- Jamie Thomas - in the College level. You have to do all the tricks it says on the object it says. You have about 5-10 seconds per trick, so you have to move fast.
Sources: planettonyhawk.com, and personal experiences and impressions.