Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 08/31/99 | Genre: Sports
The Sony Playstation has become one of the greatest game consoles of all time. Sony took the 2D gaming crowd and converted them into a 3D gaming nation. While doing this, a few surprise titles have appeared. Although the system is now very late in its life cycle and Playstation2 will soon take its place, Activision has published one of the most surprising games since the original Jumping Flash! Tony Hawk Pro Skater is a skateboarding simulation that offers great controls, awesome music, excellent graphics, and addictive multiplayer modes.
I must admit, I was not looking forward to playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater. Upon reading that it was a skateboarding game, I already was thinking it was going to be boring. But after popping the disc into my Playstation and using my dual analog shock controller, Tony Hawk immediately began to shine. The first thing noticed were the excellent controls. I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of skateboarding and I know practically nothing about the sport... But I was actually pulling of "death defying" tricks off ramps and landing them! The dual shock controller would rumble as I landed on the ground after each jump.
The controller is set up to make navigating the game world very easy. While the game can be played with or without the use of the analog control stick, I found it a much more enjoyable experience with the analog option turned on. Movement is done by moving the left control stick, while the X, Triangle, Circle, and Square buttons allow jumps, and all various tricks to be performed. If you don't like the button layout, the controller options screen contains a few variations of the X, Triangle, Square, and circle buttons. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater definitely shines in the control department. You can really tell they spent many hours perfecting the control methods.
Besides the great controls, Tony Hawk Pro Skater also has some incredible music that fit the game. Most of the time, video games utilize music without any words but Tony Hawk may start the era of a different type of music. By acquiring the rights to some popular bands, Pro Skater gives the gamer a "rocking" good time as they perform tricks and stunts. I found myself, at more than one occasion, to be enjoying the music so much that I ceased to pay attention to the game. In the future, I hope more game developers utilize music, like Tony Hawk, in their titles.
Another feature of Tony Hawk Pro Skater is the amount of detail shown in the graphics. Despite only have 2 Mega Bytes of RAM, a 33 MHZ processor, and a double speed CD-ROM, games on the Sony Playstation continue to improve their visual quality year after year. Just look at the graphical difference between Square's Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII to understand what I am talking about.
Characters in Tony Hawk are very detailed. While the PSX can't do facial expressions like the Dreamcast can, Neversoft has done a marvelous job with the limited resources of the Playstation. Each character in the game is clothed like their real life counterpart--wearing the normal baggy "skating clothes." The game's environments are also very interesting. Each of the levels have multiple places to perform tricks and stunts on. While skating throughout the game world, the player will be able to find knocked over tables, steps, railing, ramps, cement walls, and many more things to execute the tricks and stunts.
Even though every area of this game has been well thought out and is near perfect, there is one feature that makes Tony Hawk's Pro Skater an instant classic. That is, the multiplayer mode of play. You and a friend can go head to head in a variety of game play modes. One of the multiplayer games is horse. While you can spell out any word you desire, the object here is quite simple--perform a trick or stunt and score more points than the other person. The player with the lowest score gets a letter. This will repeat in various sections throughout the level until one gamer has spelled out the entire word. Another one of my favorite modes pits two people in a level of their choosing. You are given a limited amount of time to perform any trick or stunt you want throughout the level. Everytime the player successfully completes a trick or stunt, they get a point. Now, this mode is played in a split screen and the frame rate remains very high--even in the split screen!
Without a doubt, Tony Hawk Pro Skater is a must buy. Even though I am not a fan of skateboarding and I fell in love with this title. One can only imagine how much a skateboarding fan will enjoy Pro Skater. If you own a Playstation, you owe it to yourself to give Tony Hawk's Pro Skater a try. I promise you won't regret it.