It wasn’t all that long ago when the gaming world was given one of the best extreme sports titles of all time, Tony Hawk Pro Skater for the PlayStation. Since then there have been 3 more installments to the series (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, 3, & 4), all basically have the same gameplay elements with more features and upgrades. Well now Neversoft has decided to mix it up a bit, try some new things, and hopefully establish some new standards for extreme sports games. This is Activision’s latest in the Tony Hawk series, Tony Hawk’s Underground.
The Tony Hawk series has been an impressive one, with all of the games improving on their predecessors, there is always a lot of anticipation gathered up behind new Tony Hawk Titles. All of the last four Tony Hawk titles have been about the same type of games just different upgrades and environments to skate in. Well Neversoft decided to change it up a bit and try some new things (it’s about time), with the addition of a much more customizable skating experience.
One of the big things that really set Tony Hawk’s Underground (THUG) apart from all of the other Tony Hawk titles is that the emphasis not placed on the pros but now on the little guy trying to make it to the top. This has been something missing from the series from the get-go, instead of how you used to already be a great skater and then just try to accomplish goals from there. Now it seems like there is more of a purpose for you skating and completing the objectives.
When you start the Story Mode (no longer career), one of the first tasks you must complete is creating your character. Like in most games this is a fun process that was very nicely created. You are given tons of different options and one of the nicest features is the ability to put your own face in the game. Just send a picture online of yourself and they will transform it and then you just put it on your memory card and you’re ready to play in the game.
The whole point of the Story Mode is to really get the gamer more involved in the game. You play through the story with some cut scenes and dialogue. For the most part the Story is pretty lame; it doesn’t have many twists or turns and doesn’t really have much interesting. With that being said the story is there and it does get the job done, even if it wasn’t all that interesting. Overall I enjoyed the story mode (even with a boring story), it manages to change it up a bit, which was something the THPS series has needed for quite some time.
Like I mentioned earlier in the review, each Tony Hawk game adds something new to the gameplay and in THUG it’s the ability to get of the board and go on foot. This not only allows you to complete some of the goals throughout the story mode, but it also allows you to put a lot of different combos together that haven’t been seen in the series before. When I first saw this feature I really didn’t think much of it, but as I got more and more into the game I found that it was not only a useful gameplay addition but also a fun one at that.
Besides the on-foot aspect of the gameplay, there really hasn’t been a whole lot of gameplay elements changed from THPS4, but there are quite a few differences. One of the most noticeable is the level design, which has now become a lot more widespread, which means much larger environments. Some people may be bigger fans of the skate park atmospheres but personally I enjoyed the bigger environments, which really helped things along in the game.
THUG still includes the multiplayer and the online play, which are both quite fun. I really enjoyed playing the game online, and very rarely experienced much lag, which was always a big plus. Tony Hawk series has always been a fun multiplayer title and this remains true in THUG. With all of the new and still a lot of the old the gameplay in Underground is still top-notch and continues the glory that is the Tony Hawk series.
The Tony Hawk series has never been one with the best graphics, but when you have the gameplay like a Tony Hawk you really don’t need to worry as much about the graphics. In the past few versions there have been some minor upgrades to the system but for the most part it would be nice for the game to get a facelift.
Everything in THUG just looks a bit outdated or maybe the graphics are just too familiar to us. The character models in THUG have some positive sides and that is they are pretty unique, but on the downside they seem pretty poor in quality and there really isn’t much detail placed upon them. The character models themselves are pretty straightforward, a little scratchy but for the most part they get the job done.
The environments are also on the same boat, because they also have their ups and downs. On the downside they could have used some more detail, and the courses themselves start to feel a little generic after time. With that being said they are pretty widespread areas that gives you a lot more freedom to roam around, which is a definite plus in my book. Overall the graphics in THUG are around average, and my hope is for the next version that they try and do some larger upgrades to the games graphics.
The one thing that I must say about all of the Tony Hawk titles, are that they are always a lot of fun to play. I remember sitting down to play THPS for the first time and just being glued to the TV and the same feeling is still there with Underground. The game does a lot of things right and gives you a lot of areas to customize. With the multiplayer and single player both being strong this is a game that you can sit down and play and have fun for quite sometime.
THUG is one of those games that tries some new things and does quite a nice job with them. If you are a fan of the Tony Hawk series then you should definitely think about picking this one up, it’s sure to be a good investment.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.