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Review: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3

Reviewed By: Bill Stiteler

Review Date: May 11, 2003


Genre: Maximum radical skateboarding action!
Format: CD
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: Activision
Mac Publisher: Aspyr Media
System Requirements: Mac OS 9.2.1 or Mac OS X 10.1, 450MHz processor, 128MB RAM plus virtual memory or 256MB under Mac OS X, 700MB hard drive space, 3D graphics acceleration required (Minimum of ATI Radeon or NVIDIA GeForce series card), 32MB of video memory required
Network Feature: Yes
3D Support: Required
Retail Price: $39.99
Availability: Out Now
Rating: T for Teen (blood, mild lyrics, suggestive themes...of what, I have no idea)

Some of you, after reading this review, may remark, "You didn't even give it a chance!"

Well, not everybody gets a chance. Sometimes you're the first infantryman out of the boat and onto the beach. Sometimes you're the fat kid who thinks he's going to play Romeo one day. And sometimes you're the skateboarding game that's sent to me for review.

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3. I have no issues with Mr. Hawk, mainly because if it weren't for the fact that a game showed up with his name on it, I'd have no idea who he is. What I do have a problem with is the "Pro Skater" and "3." The former implies that he's making a living doing this, and the latter implies that he's making so much money doing this that he's inspired at least two previous games.

The main goal of your amateur, non-enumerated skater is to annoy people by running into them after losing control of your "board" (part of the hip lingo I picked up while reviewing this little masterpiece), or by rampaging through public spaces at uncontrollable speeds. They do this, you see, in the name of "freedom." No, skateboarding is not a crime; however, reckless endangerment and trespassing are. Guess that's too long to put on a bumper sticker.

But my low regard for skateboarding could be forgiven if, in fact, THPS3 were a fun game to play. I forgave Soldier of Fortune 2 for legitimizing a magazine for psychopaths, because it was a fun game to play. I forgave the creators of Star Trek: Voyager, because Elite Force was fun to play. Is Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 a fun game to play? No, no it is not. In fact, I have only ever played two games which were less fun than Mr. Hawk's latest oeuvre; SimEarth and Survivor the Interactive Game.

My principal resentment against this quote-game-unquote is that I have no idea how to play it. I have no idea because there are no directions in the game. I think I'm supposed to score points by performing rapid-fire combinations of complex skateboarding moves without falling, but this is sheer guesswork on my part. I could be struggling to save a trauma victim's life while I struggle to save my own soul in the most intense episode of ER ever. Flipping through the manual, I see that the instructions are limited to telling me that hitting a number pad key may–may, mind you–result in my character doing an "ollie." What is an "ollie?" Why, let's ask our friend, Mr. Dictionary!

Ollie, IA (city, FIPS 59070)
Location: 41.19883 N, 92.09279 W
Population (1990): 207 (115 housing units)
Area: 2.6 sq km (land), 0.0 sq km (water)
Zip code(s): 52576

So, the whole ER thing is starting to make a lot more sense. My first and biggest complaint against the game, then, is that it's unplayable. Call me nuts, but I do tend to prefer games that overcome this obstacle. Elitist, I know, but what can you do?

Okay, okay, calm down Bill. Let's take another approach to this. Maybe the problem is with me. Maybe I'm too wrapped up in my own small-minded, "funcentric" view of video games to appreciate what THPS3 has to offer. I mean, why should I expect a game to tell me how to play it? Why should I expect a clear sense of the rules and objectives? Why don't I idolize people for their mastery of not falling off a plank of wood? Maybe I should just give in and–like every other man, woman, and child–decimate entire forests so that I can produce article after article praising this game. And, indeed, I should demand the mass burning of every copy of Hamlet as merely a cruel mockery of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3's primacy as the greatest work of the human soul.

But somehow, I don't think so.

These then, are the facts:

The graphics are pretty good, you can play on the internet, you can make your own skateboarder. There are career games and single-shots. You've probably already bought a copy. But, ultimately, this game is not fun, at all, to play, except when you send a skater hurtling into a pig iron smelter.

When you get to Hell, tell 'em Stiteler sent you.


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