Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rank Up! - Tony Hawk series

The Tony Hawk series has certainly seen better days. With the skateboard peripheral games not performing the best gameplay-wise and sales-wise, I think it's time we look back at the series' roots. As always, Rank Up! is where we take a famous game series, list the games from worst to best, and call it an early evening. Sounds fun, no? As always, if you disagree with my list, let me know in the comments section. That's what they are there for, isn't it? These are the games we will be ranking today-- the main console entries, excluding Shred and Ride:

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (PS1, N64, DC)
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (PS1, N64, DC)

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (PS2, GCN, XBX, PS1, N64)
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (PS2, GCN, XBX)
Tony Hawk's Underground (PS2, GCN, XBX)

Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (PS2, GCN, XBX)

Tony Hawk's American Wasteland (PS2, GCN, XBX, 360)
Tony Hawk's Project 8 (PS3, 360, PS2)
Tony Hawk's Proving Ground (PS3, 360, Wii, PS2)

When the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater came out, it revolutionized the skateboarding genre. Nowadays we take for granted the series, and for good reason-- it just isn't that good or remarkable anymore. Nonetheless, tricking out in the training area, the school, and Area 51 were just some of the wonderful locales one could thrash around in. Every year, it seemed, a new Tony Hawk game would come out and blow gamers away. It was by American Wasteland that the feeling of ennui came before players as the series took its unfortunate toll on people.

9) Tony Hawk's Project 8 (PS3, 360)

This game was Tony Hawk's attempt at realism, and again, it worked well. Instead of spanning the world across various levels, you had one big city open to you. As you completed goals, new parts of the city would open up for your skater to explore. The premise was to beat enough challenges to get on Tony Hawk's Project 8 skating team. Though the weak character creation system was a brutal flaw with this game to me. You were stuck between archetypes with little maneuverability. Regardless, those looking for a realistic skating experience can check out this title or the next game on our list, Proving Ground.

8) Tony Hawk's Proving Ground (PS3, 360, Wii)

By the time Proving Ground was released, genre fatigue had already set in. Gamers had moved on to EA's popular Skate franchise. That didn't stop Proving Ground from being a competent skating title. In fact, it was quite good. It featured new Nail the Grab and Nail the Manual special trick goals, the ability to seamlessly skate between offline and on, create personalized skate videos with customization like never before, and explore a city ripe for skating.

7) Tony Hawk's American Wasteland (PS2, GCN, XBX, 360)

The 360 version of this game was perfect for achievement whores, pending they could find all of the game's well-hidden gaps. Nonetheless, the city of Los Angeles was yours to explore with different locales from Hollywood to a junkyard where pieces of broken skate spots accumulated as you terrorized the city. Sure, tricking off pedestrians in Beverly Hills had its own allure, but when you got down to it, the real fun was following the enjoyable story, and for the first time ever, pulling off one distinct trick from one end of the city to the other.

6) Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (PS2, GCN, XBX)

Instead of having two minutes to take on as many goals as you wished, Pro Skater 4 introduced something new to the series that would stick with it to this day-- the ability to carouse levels in a sandbox-fashion. You'd skate up to other skaters or pedestrians, complete their goal, and unlock new challenges and skating competitions. As you neared the end of your skating tour from college campuses to city streets, you'd take on challenges from Tony Hawk himself among other top skaters. Pull off a 900 across two sky-high halfpipes. YOU'RE THE KING, BABY!

5) Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (PS1, N64, DC)

The original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is probably many a-gamer's favorite title in the series. It's the original-- a-number-one. Regardless, many future titles would surpass it. That notwithstanding, the very first Pro Skater introduced gamers to skating culture whether you were collecting S-K-A-T-E letters, finding a well-hidden secret tape, or pulling off a high score within two minutes. You had two minutes each go-round, and you'd travel from exciting levels like the original school and the mall, to name a couple.

4) Tony Hawk's Underground (PS2, GCN, XBX)

Tony Hawk's Underground was the very first THPS game to introduce a deep story, and for all intents and purposes it worked out well. The story took you as a novice skater in New Jersey with a buddy who would soon betray you multiple times throughout your journey together. The ability to hop off your board may seem like a gimmick, but it absolutely saved me some frustration of constantly hitting my board against a wall or railing, unwillingly getting bounced back the way I just came from, all for the trouble of just reaching my destination. So getting off your board was an easier way of reaching your destination, and I loved it. It made exploring cake.

3) Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (PS1, N64, DC)

Introducing the combo-continuing revert was a life-saver for virtual skaters everywhere. Additional tricks were added to beef up the small amount of tricks available in the first Hawk game. The second THPS game introduced awesome new locales such as Minneapolis, the Bullring, and the School 2. The goals were pretty much the same: get two minutes, grab five doodads, collect all five S-K-A-T-E letters, create a killer combo, etc. And besides that, what other game would let you shred as Spider-man?

2) Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (PS2, GCN, XBX)

Apart from the Jackass storyline, I love this Tony Hawk game second-best because it had two modes. It had your standard story mode that was popular in this era, AND it had classic mode where you had two minutes to complete as many goals as possible before time ran out. You could also create your own goals much like with the original Underground. You could either use the pre-made levels or use your own custom skateparks. There was a lot of wild and wacky fun to be had in this title, and Bam Margera not included, it was one enjoyable experience.

1) Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (PS2, GCN, XBX)

Never before had there been such an awesome skating experience than Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, and in my opinion, never would there be again. The levels were some of the series' best from the cold, frigid temperatures of Canada to running down the terminals in the Airport level. Beating campaign mode as a character unlocked a new secret skater, and these weren't just Barney Buttsavage or what have you. These were fantasy skaters such as Darth Maul, Wolverine, and Neversoft's eyeball mascot. THPS3 is without a doubt my favorite of the Tony Hawk titles.


What about you? Surely, your list differs greatly from mine. Let everyone know your opinion in the comments section.

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