|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Neversoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 15, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: TEEN||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
Back in the day, there was only one champion in the skating genre - Tony Hawk games. Over the years, there have been a few flops in the series and a few disgraces of the once highlighted series. There have also been attempts at uprooting the giant franchise. Even a recent title, SKATE, has attempted to claim the crown in the hearts of skaters. While that entry was a nice attempt, in my eyes and in several others, there is only one skating series that I feel I have to play whether it's good or bad. Moreover, you don't have to worry that much about punishing your thumb when it makes you to do a ridiculous trick like you do with SKATE.
There are a few things to the newest installment that people will view as the same old same old, but there are also a few tidbits that will keep people playing for quite some time. One of these is the diversity of the controls. Now, I know that most of it is a repeat, but there are several new ways to make sure you will nail your trick. One of these is a slow motion camera that allows you to zoom in to see exactly how your footing needs to be to land it correctly. However, where it holds the strongest is in the Nail the Grab mode while skating. This is necessary to learn for anyone looking to excel in the game. This is where one of the newer tweaks comes into play. Instead of having access to a plethora of tricks and techniques right from the beginning, you will have to progress through different story modes in order to acquire some of the more desired techniques to show off your skill.
To some this could be a downfall to the game since you can just skate without ever really doing any of the story modes available. Players just wanting to skate around in their designated area will be happy to see plenty of areas to become more comfortable with the controls before attempting any of the story modes that are available. The great, but also bad, thing here is that there is absolutely no direction on how you move through the story modes. You decide how you progress once you have learned the basics to make yourself shine at the park. This is a great thing, especially if you got tired of the massive overarch of story in previous games. Here you can just do the smaller story-arches at your own pace. Again, be forewarned that certain stories give you certain abilities that are a must, so be careful of the path you choose first. Since the story modes are how you unlock new abilities and techniques you might want to fully explore every story arch as they come instead of advancing in just one.
There are a few of the eight new features that are kind of pointless or trivial. One is the Nail-the-Manual. I cannot express how trivial this was. In real life, not so much, but here it felt a little too difficult to perform and never really amounted to anything other than constant wipeouts or ending too soon. Another feature I had a problem with is the Bowl Carving. It felt almost forced and not as put together as it could have been. For instance, some of the time it was extremely easy to nail the trick, while others it was no fault of mine but rather the device I was performing it on. Maybe, in future installments, this will be modified to almost perfection because it could be essential to showing off your skills, at least in real life.
Another annoyance I had, though it might be small, is the level of challenge you face. Each challenge is broken down into three difficulty settings, AM, Pro, and Sick. You can clear a section by meeting the AM requirements only, which is a good thing. No longer do you have to spend a ridiculous amount of time to progress. The annoying thing is there is really no reason to try for the Pro or Sick levels. The only plus to these levels is the extra cash and bragging rights. Personally, I wish there had been a little more to the harder challenge levels than that.