Steampowered Sunday #12
This weeks episode of Steampowered Sunday is chock full of self indulgent cheatery. Firstly we have plans on going out and about Sunday morning, so I am technically playing the game and doing this review Saturday night shortly before recording AggroChat. The second bit of cheatery is that normally I play through a game in my steam back catalog. That however is not the case this week as currently steam is having a sale on all Activision titles. Among the list was one that caught my eye. I had noticed it a few times in the past but was never at a price point I was wiling to snap it up for. However yesterday for $5 I figured it was well worth that just for a trip down memory lane.
Something you need to know about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise is that I played the hell out of it. I was one of those little skater kids, and I even went so far as to have the “Tony Hawk” style “hangover” haircut. As a result when this came out for the original Playstation I latched onto it with both hands. One of the things I always wanted was a really good skating game, however we were stuck with either Skate or Die that at least had a free style ramp mode, or 720* which lacked any kind of free skate option… and if you took too long you were chased by an angry swarm of bees. No game gave me what I wanted, which was the ability to faff about without a timer ticking and do all sorts of nifty tricks. This game franchise had exactly that, and I spent countless hours playing and it and it’s higher resolution cousins on the Dreamcast.
When the I got my Playstation 2 one of the first titles I picked up was Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3. So I knew one of two things was going to happen. Either I would have a wonderful romp down memory lane, or I would be severely disappointed by the crappy remake. Thankfully the game is pretty much a 1080p remake of the original playstation title, and this is a good thing. Playing the game with a XBOX 360 controller on my PC feels almost exactly like I remember playing it on the PSX. All the tricks worked essentially the same, and I struggled with the same problems I ever did. The game works the same way, each map has a ton of objectives and as you move your way around the area you get bonus scores for collecting them. As always the first objective I generally go for is for grabbing the letters S K A T E scattered around the room.
Additionally all of the old secrets are exactly where I remember them, and accessed through the same kind of tricks. I really was not expecting anything more than a graphical update, so I was not terribly disappointed to find that literally nothing had changed. I got the same enjoyment crashing through the room on top of the ramp as I ever did. One of my favorite things about the series was trying to find all the named “gaps” and a lot of these work the same as they always did. The only thing that is confusing really is that the game is like a remix of all of the Tony Hawk titles. There are maps from the early THPS games as well as the later Underground games. Overall this gives you a good mix of things to go and explore, and Free Skate mode is just as much of a guilty pleasure as it ever was.
Stripped Down Game
My biggest complaint about the game is that it is greatly stripped down. Gone is the ability to create custom skaters, and also gone are the weird unlockable characters like the Neversoft eyeball guy, and Spiderman. The lack of ability to create your own skater really hurts my overall enjoyment of the title. I liked creating a skater that was a reasonable facsimile of myself and customizing his stat package to be only the things I cared about… namely street skating. I found that overall Eric Koston has the closest stat package to what I would want, so I have been using him. The game has been out for two years, so I doubt that we will be seeing any kind of DLC that adds in the missing functionality. My only hope is that maybe just maybe someone cares enough to create a mod that lets you do the same thing.
The other missing feature is the skate park creator. I spent hours building interesting skate parks to go explore, and I remember THPS 2 for the Dreamcast had a wide variety of items you could choose from. I realize this title was released not only on the PC but also tablets and phones… so there is a limited amount of stuff they could realistically squeeze into the game given those constraints. Even with these missing features, I have definitely gotten my $5 worth of fun. Sure I still have my playstation, playstation 2 and dreamcast… but I am not going to go dig them out of the closet and hook them up just to play Tony Hawk. This little download has allowed me to relive some of those memories without having to do that.
Watch Me Suck at THPS!
Episode 4: Mentors for Everyone
Last night we recorded Episode 4 of the AggroChat podcast, and once again we had our regular cast in place. Kodra was back from his business trip, and Rae was no longer trying to join the circus. I tried a little experiment last night, that I probably won’t repeat again. I had been concerned that I had been overly directing the flow of conversation, so I tried to take a step back and let the rest of the hosts introduce topics. The end result lead me to do way more editing and massaging on this episode than normal as I deleted a ton of awkward pauses. The end result is still fairly interesting. We ended up talking about the current state of Elder Scrolls Online with its launch and remaining bugs. We talked quite a bit about ArcheAge and how intrigued I am by it. Finally I nudged the rest of my panel into talking about League of Legends. They had been threatening for weeks to derail the podcast, and I encouraged it… and the end result was not terribly derailed after all.