Tony Hawk's Underground 2

Overview

We can all remember when Tony Hawk first landed onto the PlayStation so many years ago. The game was a perfect example of how one idea can spark so many more games to come. The Tony Hawk series was on a roll in the first two editions, but suffered an unfortunate drop for the next two. Having said that, the franchise bounced back in a big way last year with Tony Hawk Underground. Now the duo of Activision and Neversoft has teamed up again to give us the sequel to the great Tony Hawk Underground. Does the game land the amazing 900? Read our review to find out!

Gameplay

The Tony Hawk series up until last year had always been a very linear game, which put out a list of objectives in each level and it was your job to complete them. Collect tapes, write out skate, and get a certain amount of points seemed to be the common road for Tony Hawk. Last year was the end of that and a start of a much more open-ended game with a lot less linearity. Well, as THUG (Tony Hawk Underground) took us by surprise, how does THUG2 do with all of the hype?

One of the main upgrades to last year’s Tony Hawk game was found in the story mode, which instead of riding around as a pro trying to complete missions, now you rode around as you (created player). This feature really got people excited about customization in the game, and really opened up a lot of new avenues for the game. This time around the story mode is a whole lot more interesting, with quite a bit more depth, and quite a bit more to do. The developers kind of drew away from asking fellow skaters in the environments for objectives, and now the game offers you a list at the very beginning that you will have to complete.

The Story Mode in this year’s edition of this game is solid, really mixing up the objectives and giving you plenty to do throughout. If you enjoyed the story mode in THUG then you will like this one. There are some minor downsides though which include the length of only about five hours. All of you diehard Tony Hawk fans out there will have no problem riding your way right through this story mode.

One of my most welcome surprises in this year’s edition is the Classic Mode, something which I really enjoyed. Call it a walk down memory lane. Similar to the first four games, you are back to the two-minute time frames, where you will try and complete as many of the goals as possible. Although the majority of the parks in which you ride in are the same as the Story Mode, many of the classic courses from previous Tony Hawk games were brought fourth to this title. I had flashbacks when playing the School and the Downhill Jam from all the fun I had with the original Tony Hawk Pro Skater game.

Last year proved to be one of the biggest advancements in the Tony Hawk series with the ability to get off your board. This is something that really sparked a whole new sense of strategy among gamers and really helped give this game some newfound life. This year there wasn’t really any sort of spark like that. There are some new features like the Graffiti, which allows you to put your mark all around skate parks, which is required in a few objectives. Also when you get Special you can enter "focus mode", which is a fancy name for slow motion. Although this feature is really interesting at the start of the game when you get down to it, its just really not that useful. To be quite plain about it THUG 2 doesn’t really offer any new exciting ideas. What it does do though is improve upon a lot of last year’s ideas and made them better. You can see the developers took a lot of time tweaking the gameplay to make it more user friendly and making the landing system a little bit more forgiving. You can really start to see the fine tuning that the developers did the more and more you play the game, which in the long run really helped THUG 2.

Luckily the PS2 version has online play, which improves upon last year’s excellent feature. Although for the most part the modes in the online play are largely the same, there are some new modes to speak of, which are Elimiskate and Scavenger Hunt. The Elimiskate is where skaters with the lowest score at a set interval are eliminated, until only one remains and declared the winner. The Scavenger Hunt is basically like it sounds. At first you drop five coins around the level and then the person with the most coins collected wins. The Online mode of THUG 2 is still as solid as ever and will still appeal to all Tony Hawk Fans.

Overall THUG 2 doesn’t many any huge changes to their winning formula but does enough tweaks to make an extremely solid experience that improves upon last year’s great ideas.

Graphics

The only downside to last year’s game was the graphics, which were not all that great. This is something the Tony Hawk series has really never got down and is still trying to figure it out to this day. So how does THUG 2 turn out?

I must say that Neversoft has put a lot of work into trying to make THUG 2 a much more presentable game and have done a pretty good job of it. One of the most noticeable differences in this year’s game is the upgraded character models, which really look a great deal better then before. In years past the character models always looked quite scratchy but now you can see the great amount of detail that has been put into them. The character models have a much more cartoonish look this year that works well for the game. The environments aren’t much different then in last year’s game where everything seems to be at the same amount of detail level.

Overall THUG 2 is a much more detailed game that improves upon last year’s graphical system with much better character models. Hopefully by next year we can see some better-looking environments to skate around in.

Fun Factor

This has to be the easiest part of the review of THUG 2, because this is just an overly fun game. If you have been addicted to the Tony Hawk formula in the past you will find this one to be just as fun as before. I thought the addition of the Classic Mode made this game even more fun, bringing back some great memories from the original games. Combine that with a good story mode and great online support and you really have a fun game.

Overall

Tony Hawk Underground 2 is a worthy sequel to last year’s game that improves a lot of the downsides to last year and makes a solid entry. If you are a fan of THUG then you will once again enjoy THUG 2.

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.