I personally love the Tony Hawk series... and I know I'm not alone.
It's got solid controls, solid animations, great music and sound effects, and is just plan addictive as hell.
I remember spending weeks getting all the gaps in THPS2 without any cheats (there's 2 or 3 that I spent days on alone).
THPS4 was probably my favorite... IMO the series really stopped gowning game play wise at that point. I'm not trying to offend but I can't even think of much more to add in that respect.
THPS2 added a lot with the addition of the manual, THPS3 added a lot with the addition of the revert. THPS4 really just kind of solidified everything that had been done previously, and the whole addition of flat land tricks was really cool (they're not my favorite kind of tricks) as well as the ability to change tricks in a grind etc.
THUG was interesting though it really just felt like a lot of frosting added to an already really good cake. The ability to get off of your board was cool as it make it loads easier to get to obscure locations to setup for combo lines and such, but I don't think it really added much to the game play and felt kind of clumsy to use as part of a combo (especially in contrast to the smoother skateboarding mechanics). The idea of a story mode was cool but it was just too linear.
THUG 2 was a big let down for me. I was mostly disappointed in the lack of online play on the Xbox version. I remember reading an article before it was released on how it would feature online play and all the things you could do etc. I pre-ordered it for Xbox. Got it home and realized there was no online ability. I re-sold it on eBay THAT DAY and went out and bought the PS2 version so I could play online . Despite the typical differences in graphics between PS2 and Xbox I was also really disappointed in the graphics. The previous installments worked off of realism while THUG2 felt like they were going for cartoony SD characters. Also the use of the actual game models for the cut scenes is ok... but only if the game models look good. The models in THUG 2 are fine for the actual game play but when you go in close on characters faces and what not in the cut scenes it exploits their defects and ugly (relatively) low poly count. Another disappointment was in THUG 2 the story mode felt even MORE linear than in the first THUG. If you're going to add a story mode at least make it dynamic to some extent. I'd fly through all the challenges perfectly and when I got to the end of the level it was always treated as if I was the lowest scoring member of my "team". The thing I liked most about THUG2 however was the addition of "Classic Mode". I had felt it was missing in the first THUG and was happy to see it added in THUG2.
Things like graffiti, throwing tomatoes (etc), and the "special guests" that used obscure modes of transportation were more frustrating to get through than enjoyable to play, mostly do to them just straying too far from the heat of the game; which is the wonderful skateboarding mechanics.
Things that were added to the "game-play" in THUG2 like the freak out and concentration mode are OK. Both are really cool when you first try them but neither have any real lasting value. Freak out is nice if you're frustrated but it takes way to long and I find myself just avoiding it to get back on my board. And concentration mode is really only useful for analyzing you landings and would probably be better suited if replaced with a replay mode of some sort. Natas spins do nothing for me, but I really love the sticker slap. The sort of perpendicular wall plant. It's the one thing that actually adds good game-play much like the manual and revert did in THPS2 and 3. Though not nearly as useful as a manual or revert it's great none the less.
One thing that that the series has been trending towards that has really bothered me is the levels. They keep getting bigger and bigger. In some ways it's great, you have a giant level to explore but in other ways the smaller levels are just as, if not more fun than the big levels. The THPS2 hanger level is IMO one of the best Tony Hawk Levels to date. In THUG2 the "warm up" level in the very beginning is my favorite level of the whole game. In a smaller space it feels like the devs are more creative with that space, and in turn it gives more opportunities to the player for interesting combos, and making really good use of the space provided. The big levels are cool but a lot of times (especially since the first THUG) it fells like a big level was created then they went through and added stuff to make it work well for combos. The smaller levels just feel better overall.
So when it comes down to it here is what I'm hoping I'll see the next Tony Hawk release:
-Online Play across ALL platforms. It'd be even better if I could play the online cross platform say my Xbox version against someone on the PS2 version etc. (I know that part is pie in the sky but I can dream) Reguardless... no release of Tony hawk should be without online play at this point.
-Next Gen graphics on the next gen release (I would HATE to buy the 360 version and have it be a hi-res knock off of the PS2's graphical trash)
-A few good Smaller levels. I'd love to see some small levels that call back to the THPS 2 and 3 days. Big levels are good but don't forget that small levels have a place too! (maybe even the inclusion of classic tony hawk levels with new challenges!)
-Dynamic Story Mode. Please... If I trounce the other team give me a story line that knows that, if I do shitty then give me the shitty outcome. A good story mode will A. Pull the player through the story, and evolve around them, and B. be influenced directly by the players actions. the Story in THUG2 does neither of those. I'd love it if THAW (THAW?) improved the Story structure.
-Whenever the TH series takes me to something other than a skateboard the game-play turns to shit. I'd say either trash the non skateboarding elements or make them play as smooth, crisp, and clean as the rest of the game.
-A sort of replay mode that saves with the high scores or major gap checklist would be awesome. Going through the high scores/checklist it be great to brag to your friends and then replay it for them.
-Finally (and I could be wrong) have more prizes for completing outlandish tasks... I remember when I got every gap in THPS2 and there was NOTHING... All I got was the respect of my buddies who where there when I did it but it would have been nice to see a special bloopers video or maybe Neversoft could send me a box of cracker jacks.... SOMETHING. I haven't yet attempted this for THUG or THUG2 so maybe this has already been remedied but for every accomplishment there should be a reward. Especially for rare things like getting all the gaps... the series has enough of a fan base that you're going to get idiots like me to actually do that stuff
That's all... I'm PSYCHED for the new Tony Hawk game on a new console and if only a few of my above prayers are answered I'll be a very happy gamer.
What do the rest of you think/looking forward to/would like to see in the new TH game?
(PS you better be reading this m_hael )