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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Extreme Sports

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Neversoft

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2004

 

 

- Old-schoolers can skip the story mode and enjoy classic THPS gameplay
- Another great soundtrack with plenty of hard rock and hip-hop cuts; eclectic choices include Johnny Cash and the Doors
- Still the penultimate skating game with awesomely fluid controls

 

 

- No Xbox Live support
- New craptacular storyline isn’t nowhere near as good as the first THUG
- Difficulty level trying to complete some level goals in the story mode is hellacious
- Graphics haven’t advanced in quality from THPS 4 (and that’s two games ago)

 

 

Review: Tony Hawk's Underground (XB)

Review: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (XB)

Review: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (XB)

Review: Aggressive Inline (XB)

Review: Skate 2 (360)

 

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Tony Hawk's Underground 2

Score: 8.7 / 10

 

thug 2 review           thug 2 review

 

Already in its seventh incarnation, the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise took an ollie in another direction last year with Tony Hawk’s Underground (THUG), which introduced a story mode to the game in the same mold of the Grand Theft Auto series, with a similar open-ended gameplay element. Heck, you could even drive vehicles. Surprisingly the story was actually good and coupled together with the typical stellar skating action that the franchise has always had to breathe some fresh air into the franchise.

The series attempted to follow suit again with THUG2, and while the skating still is still at a high level, the story mode features a weak story that can be attributed to the juvenile nonsense that Bam Margera of “Jackass” and “Viva La Bam” fame brings with his starring role in the story mode. Fortunately, if you’re an old-school

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THPS player, you can skip the story and shred and skate the original THPS gameplay without the craptacular storyline.

Let’s deal with the story first. You’re on a World Destruction Tour as part of Tony Hawk’s team versus Bam Margera’ s team. Your goal? Travel the world, creating skating-related mayhem. I honestly don’ t see the point in creating a story that uses many of the

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negative stereotypes often associated with skaters (you know, skaters are slackers that graffiti everywhere and have no respect for the law).

This could be called “Viva La Tony,” because the goals include plenty of pranks that would be right at home on Margera’s TV show. A subplot has the teams being followed and filmed by an unscrupulous filmmaker, but the story has too many holes and dopey moments to be enjoyed. And the many attempts at humorous story mode-related moments more often than not fall flat. I enjoyed the story mode in the first THUG, but this is a major step backward here. But again, fans of THPS since its inception can fortunately concentrate instead on classic mode and avoid THUG2’ s story.

The skating in THUG2, no matter what mode you play, still remains the franchise’s strongest selling point. Fluid controls make playing the game free of frustration, and a huge trick list gives gamers who think they’ve mastered all of the THPS moves plenty more to learn. The high difficulty level trying to accomplish some of these goals is a bit maddening and will take a lot of over-and-over practice, especially since many require near-perfect precision to do.

Although you won’t be able to drive cars, there are a few non-skateboard rides (admittedly bizarre choices) to drive such as Segway scooters, hot dog stands and hospital gurneys. The game also has customization opportunities that not only allows you to create your own skaters, skate parks, tricks, goals, levels, and decks, but for those sophomoric to actually enjoy the story mode, design your own logo for use on graffiti tags and skate stickers.

Don’t expect quite as many skater characters in THUG2, but in addition to the usual pro roster, Margera sidekick Wee Man and even one of the long-dead founders of freedom, Ben Franklin, make an appearance.

 

thug 2 review           thug 2 review


THUG2’s visuals play the middle road. While you won’t be exclaiming the virtues of the relatively weak character models (which haven’t shown improvement since THPS4, and that’s two games ago), the huge levels with plenty of hidden areas are again a graphical highlight. Just like in every other game in the THPS series, you’ll be skating in real locales such as New Orleans and Australia along with a few fantasy levels. Plenty of well-designed features give practically every inch of the locations you visit skatability of some sort, whether you’re grinding or pulling air tricks, lip tricks or flips.

As usual, another THPS game brings another great soundtrack. Tracks featured cover the whole spectrum of musical tastes, with a reliance on hard underground rock. But peppered throughout are hip-hop tunes and eclectic choices including Johnny Cash and even the Doors.

The biggest disappointment once again is a lack of Xbox Live support for THUG2. I mean, come on, even Electronic Arts has finally relented and included Xbox Live play in their games, and they were stubborn on that front until Microsoft loosened the control they usually assert over game publishers placing Xbox Live support in their games. Don’t tell me Activision can’t figure out a viable solution to placing Xbox Live gameplay into one of their top-shelf titles for Xbox gamers. There are 1.5 million players on Xbox Live (and growing), so it is a big segment of Xbox owners. Let’s get on the bandwagon, Activision. Plenty of Xbox THUG2 owners (including myself) would love to take the skate action online.

A lack of online support and, more prominently, the cheesy-bad story mode are negatives in THUG2, and represent a stumble for the franchise. But with the usual excellent controls and still-fun classic mode, fans can forgive THUG2’s transgressions and enjoy another virtual skating session.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(December 1, 2004)

 

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