Genre: Sport | Players: 1-2 / Up to 4 online (PS2 only) | Developer: Neversoft
THPS 1 and 2 were both fun games but in truth they weren't quite as sophisticated as some of us would've liked. Sometimes even the simplest thing was more difficult than it ought to have been, and the frame rate was inconsistent on the larger levels. On the surface THPS 3 doesn't do much radically different from its predecessors, but to play it is to discover that Neversoft successfully honed the formula to perfection; everything, that is, except the tricky frame rate.
The new revert manoeuvre effectively balances gameplay for people who prefer ramps to street, enabling combos to be continued while tricking on vert. Do it successfully and you can even ease into a manual, hop off the vert and transition to the nearest street obstacle or rail for the best of both worlds with your score multiplier unbroken. Keep the balance meter from tipping over and you can chalk up massive scores. (Combine with Gaps for more impressive numbers.)
The character customisation isn't extensive but nor is it lacking too much. Hats, hairstyles, glasses, tees, etc, can be unlocked and worn. The same applies to hardware, new decks, wheels, etc. None of it makes a damn bit of difference to how your skater performs, but it’s a nice touch, nonetheless.
Once you've chosen your preferred style it’s onto career mode with your custom skater. There are only eight levels, which doesn't sound very much, but there are multiple goals to achieve within each one. If you only achieve one goal per run, save it and try for something else on subsequent runs; they carry over so you don't need to do them all in one try. It’s the usual TH procedure.
There’s incentive to replay each level with the Pros, provided you enjoy watching unlockable skate videos. If you’re playing a skating game then you’re probably going to enjoy skate videos. Rodney Mullen’s is mind-blowing. I strongly suspect he’s an actual wizard, unbearded and in disguise.
Perhaps the most enduring aspect for me personally is that I can no longer hear Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ without thinking of the game’s opening credits. The two things are forever wedded in my mind.
5 crucial stat points out of 5
Note: The game was originally released on PS1 (developed by Shaba Games and a lot less technically advanced), PS2, GameCube and GBC. It was ported to other formats by different developers: N64 (Edge of Reality); PC and Mac (Gearbox Software); GBA (Vicarious Visions). Obviously the GBC and GBA versions will be even more radically different than even the PS1 version, but I should also mention that while the GC version looks prettier than the PS2, it has some major problems in other areas. In short, consider anything written above this Note to apply ONLY to PS2, PC and Xbox. Still reading? You really shouldn't sit so close to the screen. It's bad for your eyes.