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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4

Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Activision
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4 (2 - 8 w/ System Link)
Genre: Sports

Graphics & Sound:

Tony has never looked better! Using the power of the Xbox, the developers at Activision have really stepped up the looks of their newly rejuvenated Pro Skater series. Each level is comprised of many outstanding visuals, from the player models down to each and every element that you can grind or trick from. In fact, the stunning 3D worlds suffer no slowdown, which means that you get quality gameplay at every moment while the disc is in your console.

Once again, Tony Hawk has rallied up some killer bands like AC/DC, Run DMC, Iron Maiden, and System of a Down (there are 35 tracks total!) to keep your heart pumping as you explore the many stages in each level. You can, once again, rip your own tunes if you prefer, and play them straight from the Xbox's hard drive. Either way, the stellar lineup makes Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 an auditory wet dream. However, the same old sound fx are also present, so don't look for anything overly interesting there. On the plus side, TH4's new method of gameplay lends itself to some pretty crazy dialog when you stop to talk to the residents of each new area (my favorites are the drunken inhabitants).


A stagnant series has finally found the light of day in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. The new and completely refreshing presentation of the game is so welcoming, that fans of the series (and those that have felt it has hit a brick wall) will be clamoring for more when it's all said and done. Instead of the same old, tired level objectives that were seen in the past games, THPS4 builds upon its predecessors tenfold.

This year, you are not simply given a set of goals as you enter each area. Instead, you are free to roam, explore, or do what you will before you ever get confronted with a challenge. As you skate, you'll come across certain people you can talk to. Once you do, they will offer up a challenge, but you don't have to complete it to move on, so there's never a point in the game where you will run into true difficulties unlocking the next playable area.

The goals in Tony Hawk 4 also build upon previous versions of the game. Along with your typical goals of getting a high score and collecting the S-K-A-T-E letters scattered around, you will also see many new features, including challenges given from Tony Hawk himself. One of my favorite new moves you will learn during a challenge is when you 'skitch' behind a vehicle (or a pooping elephant, if that's your pleasure!). To go skitching, you simple press up on the pad while behind a car. This is a great way to get a quick ride around the area for as long as you can hang on. It gets pretty crazy sometimes, but more fun than not.

In the end, you will have to perfect your skills and accomplish an average of half of the sixteen goals in each area to unlock the next. TH4 then lets you have a choice of which area to unlock, giving you a bit more control over your route of passage to completing the game. The good news is that even players that can't surpass every goal should be able to eventually unlock all areas in the game, but only those with the most skilz will have a shot at finishing every single goal.


Because of the nature of TH4's gameplay, anyone (including those new to the series) should be able to pick up the controller and do fairly well. But accomplishing a perfect score isn't going to be easy, so veterans with loads of skill and quick relaxes will be in for a treat with some of the more difficult challenges (like performing a 500,000-point combo). There is a perfect balance of easy, medium, and hard (as well as the seemingly impossible) goals of each level you enter. Just skate around, and you're sure to find the challenges that are right for your skill level.

Game Mechanics:

This year's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 is really no different than any other year's from a controlling standpoint. There are a few new tricks and other goodies in the game, but the basic controller scheme remains the same. You'll have to grind, flip, and trick your way to higher and higher scores. Learning the basics is simple, but perfecting high-point combos may take a lot of practice and repetition.

All in all, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 is the best in the series, and those skeptical of 'another Tony Hawk game' only need to play for a few minutes to realize this firsthand. If you've liked any of the previous games, or are completely new to the series, I urge you to check this one out. It's undeniably a winner. It's just too bad that the people over at Activision didn't realize how much is missing with the omission of any kind of online Xbox Live connection.

Online capabilities in Tony Hawk 4 would have been the icing on the cake in a near-perfect game. But to enjoy a full 8-player mayhem, you will have to have two games, two Xbox's, and eight controllers. Link them together, invite your 7 closest friends to your house, and have a serious skate session. Luckily, the game is so good that you're bound to know someone else who is already enjoying every drop of skateboarding mojo flowing from its veins, so finding a friend shouldn't be all that hard.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Microsoft Xbox Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 Microsoft Xbox Triple Play 2002

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