tony hawks pro skater 3

I must admit, I was a little disappointed when Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 was announced. This was simply for the reason that the third game – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 – was the one which held the fondest memories. Despite the remake coming out nearly a year ago, I’m still hopeful that the same treatment will be given to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 at some point, because it was my all-time favourite.

To be crystal clear I could never skateboard, rollerblade, or even ice skate. I was utterly hopeless, so like many others I turned to video games where I could safely live out my wildest dreams without the bruises to show for it. However, it might strike you as odd that what I remember the most about Pro Skater 3 was the absolutely banging soundtrack. The line-up included the Ramones, Motorhead and Red Hot Chili Peppers to name but a few. It was something of a revelation for me and opened up a whole new aural world to explore.

The aim of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 was pretty simple – string together insane combos to score as many points as possible. Numerous goals across a variety of locations formed the Career mode, which meant either collecting items or aiming for some eye-wateringly high scores. Caution was key however, as losing several thousand points whilst your skater’s face scraped along the concrete was almost guaranteed to get your blood boiling. In fact, when this happened (it’s also known as bailing) you could see some blood splatter on the ground. Nasty.

There were plenty of tricks to pull off too, and the secret was stringing these together by picking a suitable route around your urban playground. More ambitious stunts could be discovered as you explored each level, offering up bigger points whilst increasing the risk of you falling flat on your face and losing the lot. One such example was the “Kickflip Superman”, which saw your skater holding the board above his head whilst in midair. Even the thought of trying that makes me anxious.

The levels were brilliantly varied in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. You could zip around a variety of places from an unsuspecting suburb to a commercial airport. The addition of easily frightened NPCs who you could knock over was a guilty pleasure I never tired of. However, the really impressive part was the level design which allowed you to use your imagination to score the big points, as well as climb to some pretty intimidating heights.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 featured plenty of real life skaters to play as, such as Bam Margera and Kareem Campbell alongside the man himself – Tony Hawk – with a few unexpected characters you could also unlock. Each had their own special tricks along with a specific style. However, if you weren’t fussed on any of them you could create your own character instead. There were plenty of customisation options in the game, including the ability to choose from a series of boards, once you earned them of course.

I owned Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 for the original PlayStation, so as you can imagine there was no chance that the game would feature online capabilities. However, the PlayStation 2 version was the first in the franchise to have exactly that. You could link up directly to face off against each other in a bid to achieve the highest score against the clock. Unfortunately for Xbox owners (the game released on Xbox in 2002), no online play was included but fans found their own workaround instead.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 managed to be incredibly playable, despite having an unapologetically linear style. This is because the core gameplay was so well tuned, and much more complex than it seemed at first. This made hopping between rails and halfpipes exhilarating as well as nerve jangling, much what I imagine the real thing to be like.

It speaks volumes that a game devoted to a sport which I had zero interest in for real, was such fun to play. The Tony Hawk franchise is well established and has had many facelifts, however I’ve never found an entry quite as perfectly balanced as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. And in the end I guess that’s the most important element of Skateboarding. 

Want to play THPS3? You may just about find a copy over on Amazon.

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