Review by EmP
"Sagacious Skating Shenanigans -- Minus The Fun"
I own every last Hawks game made in one form or another aside from American Wasteland. Its omission will be made clear soon.
Each and every title sits on my shelf collecting dust. Like all yearly franchises, they retain value like Nintendo retains sanity, so getting rid of them seems pointless. THPS 1-4 and the first Underground collect dust because I've gutted them: every level completed in every way, multi-player victims abandoned as soon as I started thrashing them by million point deficits rather than by the skin of my teeth. I dominate, and now I don't play. There's no reason to.
Tony Hawks' Underground 2 collects dust because playing it makes me weep.... In a manly way, of course.
Every now and then I forget this and foolishly revist the game, but in playing, I remember why I abandoned it. THUG2 is less about skating and more about a basic and ludicrous toilet humour that even rugby players wouldn't find amusing.
While putting together a combo that would make Killer Instinct look like Britney's Dance Beat, my special bar fills up, allowing me to pull off a trademark stunt guaranteed to draw gasps, points and glory. Trained fingers input the simple button combination as I soar from a half-pipe, launching this crowd-pleaser into action -- will it grant me a 540 Backflip? A McTwist? A Stalefish Somersault?
No. Instead, my custom-built skater sticks out his arse, farts loudly, and lights the noxious fumes that exit noisily from his anus.
Other 'hilarious' tricks include grinds that see your skater launch a kite to help pull him along, don bullfighter gear and squashbuckle imaginary foes to the distant cry of "Ole!" or violently puke on the move. It's obvious that Neversoft decided to try and cash in on the Jackass craze that the world was suffering from at the time, so much so that Tony Hawks takes a backseat in his own game to Bam Margera. A talented skater in his own right who owes his fame and popularity to repeatedly beating up his tubby, bearded father.
Sure, I love watching rotund gentlemen get hurt, as I will now demonstrate....
Empleh16: *pokes in the eye with pointy stick*
almightyfatness: Ouch! ;_;
... but I'm sure that the blurb on the back of the game's box said something about skateboarding being the focus. Valued reader, the back of the box is a dirty stinkin' liar!!
When the skating does get underway, the simple pleasure that once existed is buried beneath a slew of counterproductive enhancements. Falling off your board is no longer the failure it used to be; simply pummel your pad's buttons to active the special 'RAGE' feature in which your skater throws an angsty hissy-fit and boots his 'board from the screen. This feature seems designed to try and cheapen the 'HORSE' multi-player game, as punting your ride earns you points, therefore making even a bail worthwhile if done properly. The second feature is 'FOCUS', which is basically Bullet-Time on a board. It's as bad as it sounds, yet the game forces you to use it to achieve some of the lamer set pieces. When you're not forced to use moronic additions that subtract from the experience, the other goals do their best to lame things up. THUG2 will make you:
* Grab up items such as rotten tomatoes and reeking shrimp, then hurl them at passers by to the hilarity and amusement of none.
* Get off your board and partake in a little slice of spray-painting, often to cover up rival gang signs and such, yo. You can even uncover a secret character whose existence hinges on this dull and irrelevant 'feature'.
* Steal an injured skater still strapped to a gurney from the hospital's gates and then run him through traffic and a swarm of doctors that magically appear to bar your way. Getting him to his hero, Tony Hawks, is deemed more important than healing him of his internal bleeding.
* Race a loudmouthed handicapped kid around a city. Later on, you can play as him, performing grinds and air tricks on his souped-up wheelchair. Timmy would be proud.
* Free a bull in the streets of Barcelona and startle it so it craps all over the place. Then, use its steaming dung to trick off.
There's more, so much more, but I feel all the dumber for having listed as much as I have. It drives home the fact I was stupid enough to purchase this game -- with money! But even away from the flaccid and poorly thought-out gameplay and goals, Neversoft's unceasing desire to try to wreck a profitable series continues. The in-game graphics are much changed, making everything look a shrunk-down version of what the original THUG presented. If Chibi-skaters with a colour palette about two shades too bright sounds like a fine addition, than THUG 2 is the graphical disasterpiece for you! Even the semicircular bars that present themselves as a ways to keep you balance when you attempt a lip of grind look like those cheap plastic toys that are made to amuse toddlers. Not the slightest detail is spared in this overhaul -- the music is randomly selected, and XBox owners will be bloody thankful to have the custom soundtrack option to drown out the jarring collection of tunes on disk. Johnny Cash is the epitome of awesome, but 'Ring of Fire' does everything but set an acceptable ambiance to thrashing up streets with mad skating skills.
Then there are the host of secret characters to discover and "enjoy". Angry barmen zip around on lawnmowers while Aborigines drive by on stolen go-carts. Bam's Jackass colleague, Steve-O, even races about on a mechanical bull whilst Benjamin Franklin grabs up his own skateboard to wow history buffs. The inclusion of a classic mode tries to hearken back to a more simplistic time when Hawks was a series of worth, but the same problems carry over. Too many juvenile shenanigans, not enough skating.
It's like Neversoft decided to see how much crap the average Hawks fan would swallow before declaring the series buried under the weight of its broken evolution. For me, THUG 2 was the last straw.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 07/31/06
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