Review by Dbzmaniax
"An excellent installment in the series that created the Skating genre!"
Tony Hawks line of skateboarding games began on the Nintendo 64 and Playstation with Tony Hawks Pro Skater. Since then quite a few Tony Hawks were released. After the fourth installment (THPS4) of the series, it was time for a big change and came out with Tony Hawks Underground. This took the series in a new direction with the addition of a new mode, a story mode. This mode worked out great and to me at least made the series a whole lot sweeter.
I've been a Tony Hawks faithful since the day I played Tony Hawks Proskater 2 on a PS1. It was then that I fell in love with the series and made a commitment to get THPS3, which I did. Since then I have owned every installment in the Tony Hawks series, which more than qualifies me as a die-hard fan of the series.
I got THUG2 when the newest game in the series was looming around the corner (and looked like taking the series in a new direction again), Tony Hawks American Wasteland. I was expecting a lot from this game seeing as each game in the series has been tweaked and added with new features. This game wasn't any different. Read on to find out what I think.
Gameplay is what every Tony Hawks game is about, and this game offering better gameplay than any before, and what would you expect? With so much installments to the series the engine can only go forward.
Underground 2 has a more Create-A-Modes than the previous game with *DEEP BREATH* Create-A-Skater, Create-A-Graphic, Create-A-Park and Create-A-Goal. Create-A-Skater has been updated, once more, from the previous games and this time allows for even more of character customization, from changing the voice to the character's sticker. This is getting to be a really good system and easily the best customization system I have seen in a game. Create-A-Graphic is a new mode to the Tony Hawks series that allows you to create a tag that you can spray paint of objects while playing. Create-A-Goal and Create-A-Park are pretty much the same as THUG with a few new additions.
The creators have taken a different step with this game offering both a Story Mode (from THUG) and a Classic Mode (from THPS1-4). This is a real bonus and even made even more so from the ability to skate in revamped levels from previous Tony Hawks games such as Downhill Jam and Airport.
Both these modes in one game goes to show how much improvement the games have seen from the addition of Story Mode, which in my opinion has a lot more to offer than Classic Mode, although there is no doubting that both modes are very good.
Story Mode follows a story obviously, and after completing a certain amount of goals in each level with a total of 4 characters (per level; you, a pro teammate, a guest and a secret character) you will be given the opportunity to move on. Each secret character rides on a different vehicle, from a mechanical bull to a chainsaw.
Classic Mode is similar to the modes from THPS1-3, basically completing goals in each level (High, Pro and Sick Score make a comeback, along with Combo, Skate and the Secret Tape), once you unlock a certain amount you will unlock the next level bracket, which may be either one level or a choice of two levels.
Collecting stat points are different in both modes of play and both methods have their ups and downs. In Story Mode to improve your stats you are required to perform different things such as grinding for a set amount of seconds or pulling off a large combo. Classic Mode requires you to go around searching the level for visible stat points so that you can improve your skater. I believe that the method in Story Mode is a better method as it rewards your skills however it is quite possible to max out many of the skill categories in Training. Classic Mode's method pays off both skill and your ability to skate around looking for these, however these skills are not as important as those in Story Mode and usually require you to know the level quite well.
Underground 2 offers a few more tricks and things to do while skating such as the ability to tag objects with your own graphic while off your board. There is also the ability to slap stickers on walls and perform the new Natas Spin trick. The biggest addition is something called Focus Mode. You can activate this by filling up you Special Meter and pressing R, putting you in slow motion. This can make some goals a lot easier and may seem cheap but if you're going for all goals completed then you're going to rejoice at this addition (*cough*Skatopia grind, manual*cough*).
Overall the game has the same fun feel as all the Tony Hawks and it is obvious to see the effort that has gone into this system over the years, especially with the decreasing of glitches over the series, from a lot of glitches in the earlier parts to now, after all this playing, I have only found two glitches, only in Classic Mode, however.
The story of this game takes part in Story Mode (no duh Einstein!). It's story is quite simple, yet good with (hilarious) cutscences happening after you win each level. Underground 2's story has changed from the previous. Instead of starting of as a nobody like before and having to working your way up, you know get chosen by Tony Hawks and Bam Magera. You will then get put on Tony Hawks team and duke it out against Bam's team in a skating competition.
Not any skating competition though. You will be part of The World Destruction Tour traveling around to certain cities in the world, many carrying certain stereotypes (Australia, anyone?), created chaos and mayhem and basically trashing the place. Completing goals gets you points for your team. How to win? Simple, team that creates the most mayhem wins.
Pretty basic but perfect for a Tony Hawks as it opens a whole new list of possible goals that you can do, imagine a Tony Hawks game where one of the goals requires you to put birds on fire!
The graphics were pretty ordinary but they get the job done. Nothing over the though. The framerate was quite good and steady in Story Mode however take the plunge into Classic Mode and for some strange reason you will probably notice a lot of framerate drops, especially in the first few levels (maybe I got used to them?).
The sound, I cannot complain about, simply because of the large array of songs found in this game, Rock, Punk, Hip-hop and even a few classics. You will soon end up with a few favorite songs and end up having fun skating to the different tunes.
The actual sound effects are the same as the other modes, you know, the grinding sound, the sound you wheels make while skating on around, etc. Pretty good and do the job well. When you go into Focus Mode (cheap slow motion mode, if you forgot) the sound effects slow and the music pauses. It adds to the effects and helps slow down your tempo.
Well so far I've only played the game on Normal in both Story and Classic Mode. One thing is for sure, Story Mode is a helluva lot easier than that killer Classic Mode. Getting 100% percent goals on Story shouldn't be too hard (at least on Normal, it'll probably be a no-brainer on Easy) for the most part, however some goals are real killers, none as hard as two quite similar goals in Skatopia. You'll know them when you try them, don't worry. I would probably still be trying to get a certain one of those two if it was for the secret character and the Z button ;).
Classic Mode on the other hand is a killer, you'll have trouble winning it (at least I do), making it to the last level is a challenge but nothing big, however the last level is by far the hardest level I've ever played in a Tony Hawks game. Too bad it's a revamped version of my favorite level from the numbered Tony Hawks. I still haven't gotten around to winning, however I'm sure I can do it if I sit down and try and try again, like I did for many goals in Story Mode, mind you.
Overall the difficulty will challenge you depending on your skill level. If you're a beginner I recommend you play Story Mode on Easy first just to get used to it. Fans of the series should play in on Normal and the die-hard players should have a shot at Sick. For Classic Mode beginners will have a challenge so I recommend taking on Story before tackling this. Most intermediate players should take on Normal and, again those die-hards might actually be challenged on Sick (or then again, might not).
This game will take you a while to win if you are going to win it on all the modes in Story and Classic, especially if you are aiming to get all the characters and complete all the goals. You're looking at the very least a good 30 hours with this game. If you are going for gaps then get comfy, because you're going to have a lot of hours in front of you.
Even when you get everything out of Story and Classic Modes there is room to lounge about playing Free Skate or taking on your friends in intense multiplayer tournaments. Maybe you'll like to show of your newest character or level and whoop the competition, or get whooped yourself.
This game has certainly improved over the series, even if it is quite a slight improvement you can see that the series are always aiming for improvement and it was really a bonus to have two modes in the one game. If you are a fan of the Tony Hawks video game series then there is no doubt about it, go out and get this game, especially if you're like me and need if for your collection.
If you a newbie to the Tony Hawks scene then you might want to rent this game and give this game a whirl first, although I'm sure if you might it, mostly you'll come out with a positive experience with this fun addition to the Tony Hawks series.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/03/05
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