Let me make one thing perfectly clear on this review. Since my days in high school, and up to this day, I have never liked skaterats (my name for skateboarders.) To me, being a skaterat is the lowest form of life, maybe even lower than a convicted multiple murderer.
Not only that, but I have rarely touched a skaterat video game in my life (with the exception of Skate or Die for the Commodore 64).
However, when I was at E3 last month, I obtained a copy of Sega’s latest Web Browser, which to my surprise, included several demos. One demo that I located on the CD-ROM was for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Now on every publication, on-line newsletter, and fanboy site, I have read nothing but rave reviews for both the PlayStation and N64 versions.
In fact, it was even nominated for Console Sports Title of the Year by the AIAS. So I figured for a short time that I will put my personal prejudices aside and give it a shot.
Little did I know that a simple 2-minute demo would take up most of my time between the last day of E3 and the flight home. I literally had to be pulled away from my Dreamcast so I can write my review.
Now I’ve had the chance to play the full version that was recently released, and though it will not convert me into a law-breaking skaterat, it is definitely a game worthy of my time with plenty of replay value to match.
I am writing this as one of the select few who have not played the previous versions, but after playing the Dreamcast version, I am both wondering and praising myself for waiting so long. From what I have heard about the graphics, they were reportedly cleaned up from previous releases, and it looks like all the reports are true.
All textures look natural, there is no seaming, pop up, or polygon dropout at all. All the skaters are represented right down to the smallest detail. I was also very impressed with the MPEG quality music videos that ran in real-time scattered all over the stages.
The only problem I saw was that it only runs at 30 frames per second. But then again, it’s better to stay constant rather than suffer from Sega Rally 2 Syndrome (fluctuating frame rates).
Aurally the game is impressive as well. Each of the music tracks (including those by skaterat bands like Primus, Suicidal Tendencies, and the Dead Kennedys) are crystal clear, and the sound of your wheels rumbling on the wooden ramp boards is authentic.
But what impressed me most about Pro Skater is the smooth control. With its simple scheme, virtually any move is possible. And what would these moves be without vast courses to try them out on. Here we have 9 different courses to try out the riskiest of moves. Only one course is available to start off, but more tracks can be obtained with a combination of exploring and a flurry of impressive tricks. Three courses also have competitions to get the best average score against the other nine available competitors.
And when everything is found and all the secrets are available, the game is still far from over. That is the beauty of this title, perfecting your moves and achieving the highest score possible. The replay value is virtually endless!
Pro Skater is definitely bursting with replay value, and it’s also a real blast to play. Any title of this vast quality easily deserves 5 GiN Gems. Just don’t expect me to wear Vans, have my hair hanging from the side of my head, or committing felonies on my board.