This year’s game marks the return of the Brazilian skater, Bob Burnquist, after Konami decided to take another route with their skating game. You’ve got Tony, Bob, Elissa, Kareem, Bam, and of course, the god of all things skating, Rodney Mullen. The rest of the roster makes a return appearance, making this the most well rounded cast to appear in a Pro Skater
game yet. Each of their models look very similar to the ones that appeared in Tony Hawk 3
, except with different clothing and styles. Again, the same complaints arise that I had last time around. Tony Hawk looks nothing like Tony Hawk and Elissa Steemer just doesn’t look as manly here as she does in real life. For one, her breasts are a bit too large and the artists failed to include that burly mustache that she’s been harvesting for the past few years. All of that was forgiven after I saw the game in action again. Their animation is still top notch and completely blows the competition out of the water. Everything looks natural and the animations generally flow well together and are devoid of any jerkiness or stuttering. The visual element of the game succeeds because it has a firm grasp of a concept that the competition seems to have no clue about, making the onscreen action look natural and believable.
Speaking of natural, the levels look more natural and realistic than ever. Though some of the blocky designs return from last year’s game, the architecture is much more refined this time around. As you tear it up you’ll no doubt notice the sophisticated structures that populate the game’s landscape. Adding to the realistic feeling is the number of people strewn about the levels. You’ll see skaters, civilians and vehicles hanging around the areas, adding much more depth to the game. Of course the landscapes themselves have been vastly improved and feature much more attention to detail than any of the previous titles.
The levels all look nice as well and benefit from some beautiful layouts and designs. Each of the levels looks like they could have been created from the blue prints of an existing locale. There are nearly infinite amounts of scoring lines that exist in each level and it all seems conceivable. There aren’t any random objects strewn around just for the purpose of allowing you to extend your string of tricks. Rails and curbs and other such surfaces all benefit from logical placement as opposed to the seemingly random placement of previous entries into the series. Each of the levels also benefit from an increase in size, making them even larger and expanse than before. While they’re not quite as large as the levels that appeared in Z-Axis excellent title, Aggressive Inline
, they’re more than capable of holding their own. The architecture and design just simply has to be seen to be believed, definitely what we have come to expect from the people who pioneered the genre.
As always the audio elements are another strong portion of the game. I’ve come to expect only the best from Neversoft and thankfully, they always manage to deliver. Every onscreen action features a sound effect that seemingly corresponds to its real life counterpart. It appears that most of the sound effects are carryovers from THPS3
but that’s not really a negative, as that game featured some truly amazing sounds. Besides, why spend the time recording the sound of a pair of trucks grinding on a metallic rail when you’ve already got it in your library? I can’t guarantee for sure if these are in fact the same recycled effects but they sure do sound similar, not that I’m complaining or anything.
Speaking of complaints, I have quite a few pertaining to the soundtrack choices. Though this features the largest number of tracks to appear in a game of this genre (35) only 3 or 4 of them are memorable. The ones that are
good get the wind knocked out of them thanks to some seriously questionable editing. Then again, there are some tracks that feature far more offensive content than some but appear on the soundtrack unscathed. So it’s okay to include songs about satanic rituals and mayhem but it’s not all right to include minor lines about smoking weed? Come on now. I’m very appreciative that Neversoft tried to cater to nearly all audiences by including songs of all genres but the truth of the matter is, no one wants to listen to NWA while they’re skating. Most of the tracks just seem entirely out of place in a culture dominated by punk and alternative. Refer back to the soundtrack for the original THPS
that included The Vandals and Goldfinger if you’re interested in what skating music sounds like.
Page 2 of 3