It seems every year we get flooded with yet another incarnation of the Tony Hawk franchise and every year we eat it up like crazy. The big question is when will we get tired of playing as the Hawkster? If the games continue being this good the answer is a resounding never! It seems every year Neversoft out-does themselves. Better graphics, better animations, and just enough new goodies to keep us playing for hours on end. The main problem? The addiction can be too much to handle, let’s delve into the XBox version of the latest in Tony’s long line of skaters.
What can I say, I am spoiled. This is most assuredly a PS2 port, low poly characters and only decent textures flood this game. The environments, while huge in comparison to THPS 3, seem like they could look so much better on the mighty green box. I can’t complain too much as the game flies, never missing a beat in the frame rate department. All I can say is Neversoft needs to take advantage of the XBox and give us some volumetric grass, bump mapped textures, and higher poly counts. The system is hardly even breaking a sweat with this game. I cannot stress this comment enough, once again we settle for less.
It seems that Neversoft is happy with their sound effects as they have been recycled for a while now. The main addition to this department is definitely the actual skaters lending their voices to the cast. Tony Hawk, Elissa Steamer, Bam Margera, and the rest of the crew are here to gab at you for certain missions. For skater fans this is a very nice touch. Now we get to the music, of course being on XBox we have the option to grab our own tunes from the hard-drive. Although if forced to live with a pre-made soundtrack THPS 4 has one of the best, sporting the likes of Goldfinger, The Sex Pistols, and AC-DC among many others really adds diversity. A great sounding game, especially with that Xbox only in-game Dolby Digital.
Can you imagine working at Neversoft? Sitting around thinking, “what the hell are we going to add next?”. Sure it seems THPS has done just about everything, and just when you think they have BAM! It’s in your face with even more goodies. This time around instead of having 2 minutes to complete a certain goal each level is basically a free skate session. You choose who you want to talk to for each goal. Everything from breaking scores to slaloming down a half-pipe really add variety to the missions. The best part is you do not have to do any of them at any specific time. I spent hours just free skating around learning where everything was. Each goal earns you money and pro points which unlock new levels and stats for your character.
Next on the agenda is what does THPS 4 offer that 3 did not. Well as for new moves you can now perform the spine transfer. This allows you to transfer from one side of a ramp to the other while keeping your combo going. This adds even more ways to string those insane combos we have mastered over the years. Another additive is skitchin’ this is of course being able to grab the ass end of a car and use it for momentum. This can get you some mad air when skitchin’ a fast car. If that wasn’t enough Neversoft has also enhanced the flat land tricks giving you more options to impress the locals with your mad skills, do the goodies ever stop??
On a sad note yes, for whatever reason that we cannot comprehend Activision has not allowed for XBox Live support in this version. Once again Sony gets what the others don’t, it makes you wonder how much fatter Activision’s pockets are after that. Even though Sony screwed them last year by delaying their online and making it almost pointless to add it into the game. Oh well I guess we can’t have everything, you can of course tunnel the game through Gamespy which is of course a pain in the arse, but eh it’s something. There are new multi-player modes such as Combo Mambo and Capture the Flag which can be enjoyed via system link, but online support is definitely missed.
What can I say? The game still captures me and won’t let go, for one more year Tony is the king of extreme sports. Adding just enough to keep it fresh as well as leaving the good points alone for the veterans. I hope that next year Neversoft takes advantage of the superior consoles and beefs them up before release. Other than that nothing to complain about another outstanding year for team Neversoft!