Nollie! Kickflip! Er… twisteroo! Even if your skating term knowledge is less comprehensive than ours (we almost added ‘wheelie’ back there), the brilliant Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 will have you scraping the pavement (not sure about that one, either) like a pro.
Like Tonys 1, 2 and 3, this fourth instalment features spot-on controls, visuals so clean they squeak, gargantuan skate parks (this time ranging from San Francisco to Alkatraz) and a crowd of real-life trick-busters including Bob Burnquist, Elissa Steamer and The Man Himself. So what’s new? Plenty. The most series-somersaulting change is the lack of a tick-tocking timer bearing down on you as you enter each park, so you’re now free to explore and experiment under your own steam. Much better.
The timed objectives are still there – a whopping 190 of them, in fact – but they’re now dished out by passers-by, who you can chat to with a press of the X Button. And those objectives are more exciting than ever. All your old favourites are there (collect the letters S-K-A-T-E, stack up a ‘sick’ stunt score), alongside new tests of skill, such as collecting the letters C-O-M-B-O in one continuous, finger muscle-snapping trick, or pulling off a specific trick in a particular place. This game will keep you busy until Tony hangs up his helmet for good. New two-player modes like Score Challenge (a race to reach a set number of points) and Combo Mambo (a duelling combo marathon) join the usual suspects, including the hilarious Horse.
And if your friends aren’t around – or they’ve been taken to the outpatients department with bleeding ears courtesy of Run-DMC, Public Enemy, System of a Down and the rest of the ‘rousing’ soundtrack – you can while away the hours in the comprehensive Park Editor or Create-a-Skater mode. In Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, there isn’t a trace of the laurel-resting that afflicts some long-running game series.
This is an essential purchase for owners of one through three. And if you’ve never trundled along with Tony before, put this at the top of your shopping list above bread, milk and soap. Ollie on! (Is that right?)