|Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4|
April 14, 2003 | Eddie Park
Aspyr Media's recent announcement regarding its intention to publish Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 for both the Mac and PC has been causing some waves in the computer gaming community, with Mac users reveling in Aspyr's marketing coup and PC users wondering just who the heck Aspyr is. Though this isn't the first time a major title has found its way to a simultaneous release on both platforms, it is an undisputable fact that a company devoted to publishing Mac titles now holds a title virtually guaranteed to sell like hotcakes to both sides.
Even players who have never played any of the games have probably heard of the famed Tony Hawk series. Of course, those who have never played are missing out on one of the most immersive skateboarding series ever designed. Featuring tight control, a variety of tricks, and creative level designs since the first iteration, the Tony Hawk series has managed to maintain its huge popularity, even with 3 sequels being pumped out in rapid-fire succession. This is largely due to the fact that Neversoft, original developer of the series, has managed to make each successive sequel bigger and better than the last, adding plenty of new content while keeping the original play intact.
That being said, Tony Hawk 4, currently being ported by Beenox, carries on the grand tradition of the series. While it remains the same game at heart, it contains several new features and changes, some radical enough in their departure to actually change the core design philosophy of its predecessors.
Time is on your sideFor the three of you that know nothing about this title, Tony Hawk 4 is all about skateboarding. Players can select from 14 real-life pro skaters, including the venerable Tony Hawk himself, and skate it up on any of the nine levels provided. In order to progress past a level, players must complete a series of goals, ranging from the scoring of points to the collection of items.
Where Tony Hawk 4 differs from its predecessors in terms of goal completion is that it eliminates the concept of a timed level. Players are now free to skate freely around a level as soon as they enter it, which allows for a much broader experience, as levels can be freely skated and explored at a skater's whim right from the get-go. Goals themselves are still timed, but can be activated at leisure by talking to bystanders scattered around each level. Not completing the goal incurs no penalty - players are free to continue to skate around at will.
Also new to Tony Hawk 4 is the inclusion of a large number of goals per level. Specifically, each level now contains 16 various goals to complete, ranging from the familiar collect the S-K-A-T-E letters to insane trick combo challenges. While some of the goals will be pushovers to experienced players, later goals are quite challenging, and even veterans will find themselves hard-pressed to complete them.
Completing said goals requires a mastery of the trick system. Players will have access to a huge number of trick possibilities from a list that has been growing since the first title. In addition to previous tricks, a couple of new ones have been added, including the spine transfer. Simply put, the spine transfer allows players to freely rotate a mid-air skater, allowing for more control over the landing. Special manuals are now available without having to fill the special meter, and the ability to skitch behind cars has also been included, so that players can now hitch a free ride if they get tired of tooling around under their own power.