20. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
Neversoft Entertainment | Activision | 2001
The game that brought the best skateboard series ever to a new generation of consoles
What made it so great?
Tony Hawk's juggernaut franchise has gone completely senile as it's aged, but there was once a time when his name represented immense levels of unbridled fun. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 is the apex of that period, perfecting the trick-happy action and punk-rock aesthetic of the first two games while adding a slew of improvements. The environments are destructible and filled with hidden areas, there's more variety in each level's objectives and the visuals still look good today. It's also notable for being the first PS2 game to support online play (via a USB modem or Ethernet adaptor), nearly a full year before Sony came out with its own online solution.
Pro Skater 3 is so good, in fact, that the gameplay had nowhere to go from here except to add more bells and whistles. This led to the disappointing Pro Skater 4, the Jackass-inspired Underground 2, the absurd American Wasteland and finally Project 8, which swung the needle back around to merely "disappointing." But despite the flaws in later installments - or maybe because of them - this still stands out as the definitive, unadulterated Pro Skater experience.
Get ready to play
Like the first two games, Pro Skater 3 starts out nice and easy, with simple-to-execute tricks that look great as you're roaring up vert ramps and grinding seemingly endless rails. Even at its most demanding - and it gets insanely demanding, with increasingly complicated controller tricks required to pull off high-scoring combos - it only gets more addictive.
Been there, done that?
Some consider the first Tony Hawk's Underground to be a big part of the series' downward slide. Nevertheless, it added two things the series had never had: a story, and a cool feature that enabled you to upload your picture to an online server, download it to your PS2 and plaster your face onto your in-game character. Awesome.