Tony Hawk's Underground (PS2)
Genre: Sports - Skateboarding - Publisher: Activision - Developer(s): Neversoft - Age Rating: 16+
24 reviews from the community
Review of "Tony Hawk's Underground (PS2)"
The series of Tony Hawk endorsed games is a phenomenon. Even the least extreme sport orientated game players usually own a copy of at least one of them. They really took off when they transferred to the PS2 with the third in the series.I don’t think I was the only person, however, to wonder where they could possibly go from here. Every time they brought out a new game, they added a new facet, but it was basically the same game, just new challenges, slightly different Pro Skaters, and a limited lifespan.
When they announced that the fifth Tony Hawk game wouldn’t be called Pro Skater, and would include the ability to get off your board and run, I started to take notice again. I wasn’t happy about the comparisons it was getting with Grand Theft Auto, what with me hating that game with a vengeance, but I’d heard Bam Margera was back again, and that more than made up for it.I can’t think for the life of me why I bought this game in the release week. I wasn’t that excited and there were games I wanted to play much more. I can only assume it was because I had asked (or rather, forced) Ian to buy me SSX3 and Ratchet and Clank 2 for my birthday and Christmas respectively. Whatever, I had the game in my sticky mitts, and was itching to get to see what the fuss was about.
WHO THE FIG IS TONY HAWK?Have you been living under a rock? Tony Hawk is the most well known Pro Skater (that’s professional skateboarder in case you’re confused) ever to have graced the circuit. I don’t want any arguments on the comments page about how you think Bucky Lasek is better, or Bam Margera is cooler, it’s a simple fact that mention skateboarding, and people will usually have heard of Tony Hawk.
WHAT’S THE IDEA OF THE GAME?Unlike the other Pro Skater games, the idea is not to simply complete the challenges to unlock new areas and new challenges. This game has a story line. You start as a rookie skater, and work your way through competitions to become a pro. You are helped (and then hindered) along the way by Eric, a snotty gobsh*te skater, as well as the usual pros which star in these games.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE PLAYED THE OTHER GAMES IN THE SERIES?The only reason why it might be an advantage to have played the other 4 games is that you will probably be better at the tricks faster if you’re used to the trick system. There is no storyline following on from the other games, and no prior knowledge you will need.
WHAT’S THE SAME ABOUT THIS GAME?The trick system is identical, with the addition of ‘running’. You still have to string together tricks using manuals/reverts and so on to get high scores. Special tricks are still available, including special grinds and rails. There are also challenges very similar to other Tony Hawk games (more later).
You also get to create your own skater, with whichever skater you create ‘starring’ in the story videos.WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS GAME?
There are a few major differences made to the series for this game1. You can now get off your board and run along with it (more later) and do wallplants. These are the only new tricks.
2. You no longer have to collect ‘skate’ or ‘combo’ as a mission in every area – this is great, I used to hate those missions, they seemed such a waste of time.
3. Some areas only have one challenge to complete, others have a few challenges and you just complete a number of them.
4. In some areas you need to make decisions. It doesn’t have any bearing on the ending, but you get to see different videos.
5. There are three levels of difficulty instead of two; beginner, normal and 'sick'. This is great for someone like me who wants to play the game as an experience rather than proving how good she is at something, and the people on the THPS forums seem to like it cause they can all boast about how they've complete it in 'sick' mode.
6. You can upload your face online and paste it onto the character’s face in the game – I haven’t managed to do this, as it requires a network adapter. I think they’ve made the provision to paste on your face very difficult, and I haven’t found it explained properly anywhere. It would have been a lot easier if they could have just let us use the EyeToy.
7. It’s a more realistic skateboarding experience.
8. You can still skitch cars, but now you also get to drive them!
9. You can now play online if you have a network adapter – I’m sorry I can’t comment more on this, but I don’t have an adapter. From what I’ve read, it sounds like people mostly compete in competitions, and often just show off the lines they’ve managed to find.
10. As well as creating your own skater and park as in other THPS games, you can now also create your own tricks, decks and even create your own goals (such as ‘collect skate’).
11. Stats are no longer increased by finding stat points, but instead are earned by fulfilling certain criteria (more later).
DOES THAT MEAN I DON’T GET TO SKATE AS A PRO ANY MORE?You can skate as a pro in the ‘freeskate’ mode, but the pros appear in the ‘story’ mode, and besides, if you played as a pro in ‘story’ mode it wouldn’t make any sense.
WHY WOULD I WANT TO GET OFF MY SKATEBOARD?I wondered this too at first. It seemed a gimmick that I probably wouldn’t bother with. However, once I got playing it, I discovered that not only could it be used as part of a trick combo, therefore making tricks more interesting, but it means your skater can climb ladders and pipes to find new areas to trick off. It’s also vital for some challenges where you have to sneak past people, or hang off wires. It’s a useful thing to be able to do, and well executed.
WHAT MODES ARE THERE AVAILABLE?The main menu screen is pretty big! There’s a lot of different ways to play
1. Story mode – the basic mission based storyline.
2. Highscore/freeskate – try and beat your own high scores, or just skate around the various areas.
3. Multiplayer modes – this includes network (online) play, as well as the usual split screen 2 player, and multiplayer games (using the multitap).
4. Create/play goals – this is where you can create your own goals, and try and complete them. Didn’t really interest me, but I had a go, and found it pretty boring just setting up letters and then trying to pick them up again.
5. Create-a-park/-trick/-skater/-deck – these are all separate entries, but I lumped them together as they’re basically the same thing. These sort of things don’t really interest me, but in the nature of trying to whole game, I just played the create-a-trick/-park and -deck (I use create-a-skater all the time) and they were fairly easy to do, but just a bit dull.
Like most extreme sports games, it’s pretty easy to pick up, and nearly impossible to master. The main problem I always have is balancing, so it’s a blooming good job you can still turn on perfect manual, grind and balance cheats, or I’d be nowhere near the end of the game. This is considered cheating in most serious THUG gamers, so don’t admit to it if you play the online mode.WHAT DOES IT LOOK AND SOUND LIKE?
As usual, they’ve opted for a soundtrack of the usual skater tunes, which seems to be a mixture of punky stuff, like The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers, rocky stuff, like Kiss and Jane’s Addiction, and some hip-hop, like Dan the Automator and Jurassic 5. There isn’t an abundance of realistic sounds in the background in any of the areas, only really people talking, and the skateboard landing again, but you can’t hear them anyway because of the music.The graphics are pretty much the same as the others in the series. This isn’t to say they aren’t any good, but Neversoft seemed to master the graphics with THPS3, so there wasn’t really anywhere to take it. I personally think the skaters still don’t feel realistic when you skate with them; it always feels like you’re manoeuvring a flat piece of cardboard on wheels rather than a person standing on wheels. It’s a lot more realistic in the running mode, as it feels like you’re controlling someone running. Just a pity they couldn’t make the skateboarding as realistic.
WHAT SORT OF CHALLENGES DO I HAVE TO DO TO PROGRESS?The missions can be lumped into ten categories, but within each category, there is a lot of variation, so the game isn’t as repetitive as the other Tony Hawk ones.
1.Collecting/breaking/delivering items – I lumped these together as they mainly involve finding areas within a time limit; whether it’s to put up flyers, break bottles, or collect hot nuts, it’s all the same thing really.
2. Skitching cars – skitching is hanging onto the back of a car, which is a balancing challenge. You have to sometimes keep up with other cars by skitching, or use skitching to build up speed to launch yourself somewhere else.
3. Driving cars – not the most realistic car driving sim, but who wants it to be. Makes a nice change now and again to drive through a course or knock stuff over within a time limit.
4. Following someone else’s line – a line is a group of objects to trick off in a combo. Following someone else’s line in this instance means to trick off all the same objects they did. Sometimes it includes getting a better score than they did.
5. Beating high scores/impressing people – this is basically getting the score set for you by the game for whatever reason.
6. Winning competitions – to become a pro, you’re going to have to win competitions. In these, you are given a score out of 99 by each of 5 judges, and your three best scores are averaged. You do each run three times, and the best two scores are added.
7. Stealth – this is a very new concept in Tony Hawk and is only used twice. Both times, you need to sneak past people to your goal, both times at night. Again, like the driving, it’s not sophisticated, but it makes a nice break.
8. Running errands – I put this separately to mission type one, as these are errands which involve you following specific tricks to achieve your goal, such as a boneless or a wallplant.
9. Performing tricks called out to you – people familiar with THPS4 will be familiar with this sort of mission. People crowd around you and you have to complete the tricks shown on screen within a time limit.
10. Special Trick slot missions – on each level there are people with trick icons above their heads. If you fulfil their challenge, you unlock your next trick slot.
IS THERE ANY INCENTIVE TO KEEP PLAYING IT AFTER YOU FINISH IT, OR TO PLAY IT AGAIN?Sort of. Like with all THPS games, there are gaps to find. If you don’t know what I mean, gaps are just as they sound; gaps between two trick objects, which if you trick or jump over them count as another part of your combo. Each time you find a gap, it is coloured in on the gap list in the menu.
A new addition is the use of the list of career highlights. Each time you do one of these, for example manual for a certain distance, or hold onto a lip trick for a certain length of time, your stats for that ability go up. So if you held a manual for the required distance, your manual stats would increase. These highlights are also found in the menu.However, there isn’t really a lot of incentive to play the game all the way through once you finish once. There’s no different ending (as far as I’m aware) and your stats and gaps list isn’t carried over into another game.
I have been informed by another Ciao member, that if you finish the game, you unlock new characters and exciting things. So I finished the game in easy mode, and I did indeed unlock Iron Man, the marvel character, and a secret area called 'Hotter Than Hell' where you can start a Kiss concert! I found this hilarious. If anyone knows what the final secret area is that I can't manage to unlock, can you leave me a message in my guestbook? Thanks.SO IS IT GOOD OR NOT?
It’s certainly an interesting game to play, but it has a limited lifespan. Once you finish the final (nearly impossible) challenge, then why bother doing it again?The best thing about the game is the way they’ve successfully managed to keep the essence of the other 4 games, whilst still making a completely new game. Some of the elements may not be the most original, but the way they’re put together certainly is. I don’t really like stealth games, but I liked the occasional stealth aspect, I hate driving games, but I enjoyed knocking over nut carts in Manhattan.
At the end of the day, it’s a fun game to play, but I wouldn’t say it will be a classic game in years to come. On the other hand, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, in my opinion, will still be up there in people’s top games of all time charts.IS IT TRUE YOU MANAGED TO BREAK YOUR CONTROLLER BY GETTING IN SUCH A HISSY FIT OVER THIS GAME THAT YOU THREW IT AT THE CAT?
Sort of…………………. well, okay, yes totally true. It’s that Eric character, he’s such an idiot!
*Title especially for Carmen
……………………………………………………………………………………….PRICE - £29.99 from Amazon.co.uk – but have seen it much cheaper on eBay
……………………………………………………………………..THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ MY REVIEW. IT’D BE GREAT IF YOU COULD RATE IT AND PERHAPS COMMENT ON IT FOR ME TOO!!
Product Information : Tony Hawk's Underground (PS2)
Manufacturer's product descriptionGenre: Sports - Skateboarding - Publisher: Activision - Developer(s): Neversoft - Age Rating: 16+
Release Date: 21st November 2003
Sub Genre: Skateboarding
Max Number of Players: 8 Player
Platform: PlayStation 2
Listed on Ciao since: 30/03/2004