Tony Hawks Pro Skater 4 for Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2)
The fourth game in Activision and Neversoft's seminal skateboarding series is designed to bring additions and refinements to the already polished gameplay that's made Tony Hawk's Pro Skater one of the most important video game franchises of its time. Many of these improvements are in line with advances made in earlier THPS sequels, while others may come as a surprise to longtime fans of the series.
Environments are designed to seem even larger and more interactive in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, with less worry over time limits and more emphasis on exploration. The game also adds new tricks to the pro skaters' repertoires, allowing huge, point-packed combos. The transitional "spine transfer" allows skaters to string together lines of multiple big-air tricks. Players can pop off of moving cars and other interactive elements of the game's diverse levels with new finesse.
Perhaps the biggest departure from the winning format established in earlier titles is in THPS4's Career mode. Instead of speeding through timed runs to complete discrete mission goals, as in previous releases, objectives in this game are further integrated and delivered in the context of the levels themselves. Free of conventional time limits, pro skaters can explore each environment more thoroughly, stopping to talk with the many characters they meet. It's often these NPC characters who will assign the level goals, allowing for more personal, role-playing-style motivations and rewards.
A well-stocked skate shop offers a place for the pros to spend their hard-earned cash and an assortment of mini-games brings variety to the basic gameplay. As in earlier versions of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, this 2002 release also includes editing modes that allow gamers to customize their own skater avatars and design their own skate parks.