Why Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 is One of the Greatest Games of All Time
Some games capture a moment in gaming history, a time or a feeling that embodies the console generation that brought it to the world and other games transcend that time to become among the greatest games ever made. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 is one of the latter, a game so unbelievably good that, even to this day, the title of one of the greatest games of all time is a well-deserved one.
The third entry in a long-running series bearing the name of one of the world’s greatest skateboarders, the Tony Hawk games were known among fans and others alike for being the go-to skateboarding game on any system, though quality differed from console to console.
The Playstation 2 version, however, is a legendarily good game, so good, in fact, that it remains tied with Grand Theft Auto III as one of the best Playstation 2 games of all time.
Developed by Neversoft for Activision and released in October 2001 for nearly every available console and gaming platform, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 combined the best of gameplay, graphics, sound, music, and overall presentation that has yet to be matched in many ways.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 was the first game in the series to feature online capabilities, a feature that went a long way towards securing its innovative status in gaming history. Players could even connect directly to other players over the Internet with an Ethernet adapter. Though the servers have long since shut down, there are other ways to play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 online today – using XLink Kai or through websites that allow users to play online through a DNS according to Wikipedia.
Over its life Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 sold 2.2 million copies and earned parent company Activision some $USD 77 million. For critics, the game was a smash success, earning a perfect 10 score from gaming website GameSpot. Today, the game ranks as the highest rated Playstation 2 game of all time on aggregate reviews website Metacritic, earning an average score of 97/100.
Of the game, IGN.com said: “Can you believe it’s only been a year? Well, a little more, actually, but the date on my review of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 reads September 19, 2000, which means just a hair over 13 months passed between the release of one of the finest PlayStation action games ever made and the subsequent arrival of what should go down in history as one of the best twitch-fests on PlayStation 2. Yes, Tony Hawk 3 is that good. The perfect skating game remains a small distance out of reach, but if you are not satisfied with your purchase of this game, head examinations are recommended.” (LINK: http://www.ign.com/articles/2001/10/31/tony-hawks-pro-skater-3-6)
GameSpot, which gave the game a rare perfect score of 10, said: “The Tony Hawk series has always had style. The first game reinvented a genre and set off a series of clones and pretenders that still flood the market today. The second game refined the formula, but its higher level of difficulty and steeper learning curve turned off casual players. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 brings it all together in one package that makes everything before it almost unplayable by comparison. The game has a lower level of difficulty at the beginning and some basic tutoring to appeal to new players but has enough hidden items and harder optional goals later on to keep the Tony Hawk experts interested as well. Add to that the greatly expanded and very balanced trick system and a heavy dose of sleep-stealingly addictive online play and you’ve got a game that you’ll be playing right up until the day that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 is released, if not longer. We highly recommend that you cancel whatever plans you had for Halloween and buy a copy as soon as possible.” (LINK: https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/tony-hawks-pro-skater-3-review/1900-2820972/)
Of the gameplay, IGN.com said: “On the subject of new dimensions, note also that this familiar gameplay is brought into worlds of an entirely new scale. The levels in Tony Hawk 3 are bigger, more detailed, and much more interactive than those in the earlier games, with a heavy emphasis on “interactive.” Accomplishing level goals and racking up points frequently involves acting in conjunction with people and things scattered around the stages. In the frozen Canada level, you bury a snowball thrower under branches and knock a frozen skater’s tongue loose from a lightpole. Suburbia has the downright bizarre “Help The Thin Man” goal, similar to the Airport’s ticket-delivery challenge. Los Angeles, of course, has the king of them all, the level-warping earthquake. Hit the four key rails and the expressway over the stage collapses, opening up an entirely new set of combo possibilities.”
One of the defining features of the Tony Hawk games were the game’s soundtracks, and in this area Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 surpasses its forebears, or, according to GameSpot: “The soundtrack is a perfect mix of old and new material that crosses many genres. Bands on the soundtrack include CKY, Motorhead, AFI, Alien Ant Farm, Xzibit, KRS-One, Rollins Band, Redman, Del the Funky Homosapien, Ozomatli, and more. A playlist function lets you turn off tracks that don’t fit your tastes, but the long soundtrack will almost certainly contain something you can skate to.
Like the previous Tony Hawk games, Tony 3 gets the sounds of skating down perfectly. You can hear the cracks in the sidewalk as you skate over them, different surfaces make different noises when you skate on them, and there is a seemingly unlimited number of cool little voice clips and other minor sound effects that really make the game come alive. Pedestrians throughout the levels will talk, some of them having funny conversations amongst themselves, while others will call out to you, telling you to ‘bust something out’ and proclaiming that your tricks are ‘dope’ when you do something nice right in front of them. The voicework is also absolutely hilarious. The kids in the Canada level talk with a Canadian accent, and their dialogue is peppered with the word ‘eh.’ Security guards in the airport level and some of the people in the Los Angeles level tend to talk with a funny sort of ‘Eddie Murphy doing an impression of an uptight white guy’ flavor, speaking very deliberately when they proclaim your tricks to be ‘sick.’”
While very much a product of its time, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 for the Playstation 2 is still probably the definitive skateboarding game on any console.