Retro review: Tony Hawks Pro skater 4

Taking a look back at one of my favourite games in the series!

THPS4 is the fourth installment in the pro skater series of games. It was the second one to be released on the Playstation 2 back in 2002. This one has definitely got to be my favourite Tony Hawk’s game. I lost hours and hours to this game back when it was released. But how does it hold up fifteen years later? The answer? Really well! The gameplay is as addictive as I remember and the soundtrack is still as memorable.

THPS4: Still good? or has nostalgia clouded my memory?

No level timers
Gone are the level timers, giving you chance to explore the levels

THPS4 marks a significant change to the career mode. It takes away level timers, opting for a more free play style of gameplay. You’re now free to explore the levels at your own pace, allowing you to better appreciate the level design.

The level goals are now given by talking to one of the many npcs dotted around the levels, which then starts the timer. The challenges get progressively more difficult as you go along, but never frustratingly difficult and you’ll find yourself retrying over and over again until you get it right.

Earn enough pro points and you’ll unlock the pro challenges. These more difficult challenges really up the anti and add to the replay value of the game. Each of the Pro skaters has their own unique ‘Pro’ challenges to accomplish for those who want to test their skills. 

Another fun addition to the game, which adds to the free roam formula is mini games. These games have no bearing on the main game, but are just fun little things to do. One of them is playing a game of tennis using your board as a racket. Another has you using your board as a baseball bat to hit a few pitches out of the park. I think this is a very cool way to add to the experience and it’s nice to take a break from busting huge combos.

If I have one gripe it is that you’re still attached to your board, this makes turning very annoying at times especially when you hit something and the timer is ticking down losing you precious seconds, which can sometimes cost you.

How has this game aged?

Not graphically impressive
Whilst the game never wow’d in the graphics department, the game play doesn’t suffer.

Graphically this game is really showing its age. It does lack a lot of the polish that future games would have. The NPC models are blocky and they don’t seem to have hands, however this doesn’t weigh the game down in anyway. The levels are well spaced out with plenty of things to trick off and will change slightly when certain criteria are met. 

The music in this game is some of my favourite and got me into the music genres I now love. From Heavy metal to urban hip hop, this game has a great variety of tracks that all add to the experience. If I have one complaint…it’s the clapping. When you complete a task the music dims but the npcs carry on clapping. It’s a sound that gets really irritating!

Verdict

All in all THPS4 is still a great game, even after 15 years. The levels are varied enough to not get boring and the difficulty has a nice curve to it with a lot of the challenges teaching you something new. The removal of the time limits is a refreshing change of pace to the series allowing you to do things in your own time. The music is still as memorable as it was back in 2002. The inclusion of ‘Pro’ challenges means that the game will keep the more challenge hungry gamers going for a while after finishing all the main challenges. 

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