It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since the release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, which made its debut on October 28, 2001 on the PlayStation 2. The first entry in the series to make its debut on a console other than the original PlayStation, THPS3 was one of the best-reviewed games of its generation, with a Metacritic score that is only rivaled by the legendary Grand Theft Auto III. With the Tony Hawk franchise now about as good as dead thanks to the release of the abysmal Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 last year, it’s easy to forget that this is a franchise that used to stand tall as one of the best in all of gaming. In particular, the franchise’s earliest entries are still considered its best and while you could easily make the case that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is the best of the bunch, I’ll always consider the third game to be superior. Here are a few reasons why, even 15 years after it was first released, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 still stands on top.
10. It Felt Like A True Leap Forward
By today’s standards, Tony Hawk 3 looks pretty ugly and archaic, but back in 2001, it felt like the future. The first entry in the series released on the PlayStation 2, which had only been out for a year at the time of the game’s release, THPS3 was a significant improvement on its predecessors in terms of graphics and presentation. The levels were much more visually dynamic and more interactive than they ever were on the original PlayStation, with terrain that would react to certain actions (remember the first time you triggered the earthquake in L.A.?)
Most importantly, the game just felt alive, as developer Neversoft took advantage of the PS2’s power to add pedestrians (some of whom could be real jerks) and other details to at least give the illusion that you were skating in a living, breathing world. Sure, the game’s presentation pales in comparison to later entries in the series — although one could make the case that it looks just as good if not better than the abysmal Tony Hawk 5 — but back in the day, it was one of the best looking and playing games around.