Tony Hawk's Underground 2

Tony Hawk's Underground 2 - PS2 Review

Tony Hawk's Underground 2 - PS2 Review

Tony Hawk games have been around for around six years now, the first game in the series revolutionised the extreme sports game genre overnight. Since then new revisions and inclusions have been made to the number one skate game on the market, no one has been able to keep pace with Neversoft's ever increasing development in the Tony Hawk series. If you haven't heard of the Tony Hawk games you could be fooled into thinking this is only his second game to be release. In fact this is the sixth game in the series which consisted of Tony Hawk's 1-4 and then the release of the first underground title which added more freedom and extracurricular activities in the story mode which offered more than just skating. This, the second Tony Hawk Underground title aims high and attempts to lift the bar of perfection even higher than ever before and bring together the best of old and new in the world of Tony Hawk.

The story mode this time round has changed a little since the first Underground title. Rather than having to talk to people to find out what you goal is, this time you will get a list of goals to accomplish at the beginning of each level. As you don't have any on screen indicators to tell you where your next goal should be completed from or people to chat to and point you in the right direction, you will be skating blind to start with. If you happen to pull a trick on a piece of scenery that is part of a goal the whole, the rest of the scenery needed to pull off a particular goal will light up, enabling you to see what you have to do. Unfortunately this is a very haphazard way of finding where goals take place, and it can also be confusing what you are actually meant to do when certain objects light up.

  Tony Hawk's Underground 2 - PS2 Review
Tony Hawk's Underground 2 - PS2 Review

As a solution you will be able to hit pause in the game and go to the view goals screen to get a little more info on what you should be doing. Once you have completed enough goals, you will then be able to move on and complete some more goals after seeing a quick cut scene that will fill in the story.

Fortunately, Tony Hawk's Underground 2 features the classic mode which has been brought back from the older versions of the Tony Hawk's series, most notably the first three games. The classic mode sets you against the clock in various locations. The aim of the game is to pull off as many goals as possible with in the set time. One thing to note here, if you haven't played Tony Hawks for a couple of years the anti has been drastically increased, the scores which have to be obtained are huge compared to the scores needed in the first Tony Hawk game.

New to Tony Hawk Underground 2 is the freak out. The freak out offers you the option to get very mad and destroy your board after you have fallen off a few time. Should you fall off your deck quite a few times the freak out meter will appear on the screen. At this point you can start hitting the grind button as fast as you can to fill up the freak out meter. Once the meter is full your skater will take the board freak out and smash it to pieces, at which point a new board will roll onto the screen. For your trouble you will be rewarded a few thousand points bonus. This however is flawed, as the freak out takes up time, you could probably do better scoring more points on you board in the same time rather than getting the freak out bonus.

Tony Hawk Underground also has some new moves, last time Tony Hawk Underground gave you the ability to get off your board and walk around. This time you get some quality new moves that will be useful when you're trying to pull off those incredibly long combos. The most useful of these new moves is the sticker slap. The sticker slap enables you to use walls to almost bounce off. You can ollie out of a grind, pull off a sticker slap against a wall, which will launch you straight back to the rail where you came from. This is a great addition for building those combos. Another handy move (but not as useful as the sticker slap) is the wall plant which can be used on ramps to gain some extra height should you need it. This can make those hard to reach areas a little easier to get to. There is also the focus mode which will slow down the action matrix style. This can be helpful to the novice player as it can make balancing grinds and landing a little easier. Anyone who has played Tony Hawk before will not need to use the focus mode to aide their play though. Another new move is the natas spin, not sure is it is named after the skater Natas though. The natas spin allows you to spin on any pointed objects like fire hydrants and bins. Like the other moves with the exception of the sticker slap the natas spin doesn't really contribute much to the game play. All in all the gameplay in Tony Hawk's Underground is very solid, and you expect it to be solid after six whole years of messing around and experimenting with the formula.

The online mode features a few different game modes in which 8 different people can compete at one time in games like capture the flag, graffiti and score challenge etc. New to Underground 2 are the two online modes Elimiskate and scavenger hunt. Elimiskate is very similar to arcade driving games where the last person at a certain point will be eliminated then another player will be eliminated after the next point and so on until one player is left. Scavenger hunt is a split game, firstly each player has to skate around and scatter five coins around the level. Then after each player has done this the second part takes place. Each player must skate around and find as many coins as possible the player with the most coins wins the game.

Graphically Tony Hawk's Underground 2 is very similar to the other Tony Hawk games. The frame rate however can be unstable at times, especially in the wide screen mode, which isn't recommended as the picture can appear blurry. Thankfully though all the levels are well coloured and look very good without exception.

The audio is THUG2 is pretty impressive. There obviously is the obligatory Tony Hawk sound track that is Metallica, Ween, Less Than Jake to name a couple of the 50 or so tunes in the game. The skaters do most of the voice acting which is quite convincing, but they can be forgiven for the odd wobble as they aren't actors. The sound effects are generally the same and unchanged from before.

THUG 2 is a very good skateboarding game; in fact it is the best skateboarding game out there. The game play is always fluid, fast and challenging but anyone who is a fan of the series might feel a little bit robbed as there isn't really anything new here, just more of the same. On the whole if you are a fan of the series you will enjoy it as will new comers alike, although you could find the challenge a little steep if you haven't played any of the previous games. Tony Hawk always has been and still is the only name in skate games bar none.

8 out of 10

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