Review by StephenYap3

Reviewed: 02/22/11

This title ultimately changes the essence of the series, all for the best reasons

I said what I meant and I meant what I said: “The ultimate Tony Hawk game is here!” Neversoft was giving us a ton of Tony Hawk titles to buy and cherish and so far, only a couple new features are introduced per title. For instance, who could ever forget the innovating Park Builder feature in Pro Skater 2 or more beautiful graphics in Pro Skater 3? Even though Pro Skater 4 was a little shabby in its career mode, you had an unlimited amount of time to brush your skating skills for a mission that can be attended in any order. Underground 1 does not follow much after the Pro Skater series, but it did make up for it with the ability to move around on foot and have more customization options like making your own Tricks. So basically, the titles kept introducing features little-by-little, just like how Nintendo is with their games like the Zelda and Metroid series.

In Underground 2, the whole game itself takes these entire predecessors’ features, crumples them in a bunch, and kicks the whole thing past 88 mph. And the result is? Five Tony Hawk titles combined into a whole new game, plus a new Story mode and a bunch of other new features that seriously turns a simple skating game into a huge blast. If this isn’t the best Tony Hawk title yet, I will say it’s my most favorite title in the franchise, personally because I enjoyed a bunch of packed in features that kept reeling me back to the Game Cube to play some more. After I munch down breakfast, back to the game! After lunch? Back again! After dinner? Guess! I honestly enjoyed this game much more than any other title in the series. Can I blame the game for being this addicting? Not even close.

Unlike other titles in the series, Underground 2 exchanges the predecessor’s traditional skating career mode for a world tour scheme. Surprisingly enough that the plot continues directly from the first Underground, with the exception of you being able to create your own skater and somehow mess up the ending of Underground 1. Anyways, shortly after you keep dishing out tricks for the neighborhood around you, you hit a van that gets in your way and become unconscious. Long after, you wake up tied to a chair before getting some crazed chainsaw guy frightening the pants off of you. And shortly after that, you’ll be introduced to the skater king Tony Hawk and join him on a quest against Bam’s team to dishing out the sickest and destructive global stunts, so Underground 2’s Story Mode is pretty much like the popular reality show Jackass. You’re forced to join Hawk’s team, but just remember what he told you about Bam’s team whenever life gets you down in this game: “Those guys suck!”

And if you haven’t played the original Underground before, Underground 2 won’t leave anybody in the dark. The whole game has no important mystery or reason for you to play the original one first, even if that reason is to find out how the Underground series began. No, Underground 2 ignores Underground’s main props and becomes a whole new beginning for new players, veterans, and even you. What else can I say? Anyways, when you get to the main menu, you have an assortment of options you can choose. Story Mode is where you’ll go to compete against Bam’s team while Classic Mode is the original Career Mode from the Pro Skaters’ 1-3. There are options you can select, but I’ll get to them later. For now, we’ll concentrate on Story Mode.

Before you go onto Story Mode, you’re forced to put yourself into the game. Just customize your skater and you’re ready to go! Afterwards, you’ll watch the cut scenes of the intro that I’ve mentioned in the third paragraph of this review and finally you’re taken to the Warehouse level, the very first level introduced in the first Pro Skater, where you’ll brush up your skills before dishing out serious damage around the globe. There really isn’t much new to the arsenal of moves your skater will have since only a couple new moves are added into THUG2. However, you’re still able to do the same moves you can do in the original Underground. For instance, you can get off your board and run around or even spine transfer to the other side of the half pipe. And since THUG2 is based on destruction, you can do new stuff. You can spray paint on walls that help you on certain missions or even wall kick off walls while slapping tag stickers on there. And there are even other skaters that you can control for the time being, each with their own moves and missions. From skaters to bikers to wheel chairs to scooters. Who will you find?

The objective of each level in Story Mode is simple: Complete enough “humorous-building” objectives to move onto the next level, after watching hilarious cut scenes that will leave your jaw on the floor, hopping and hopping with laughter. And sometimes in the later levels, you’ll have to do a bonus mission to finally move on. For instance, you’ll infuriate some construction workers, pulling off the sickest stunts by a helicopter, and much more, all for a reason being vengeance. THUG2’s Story Mode is not as long as the other carrier modes from the previous titles, yet THUG2 introduces three difficulty levels. The higher the difficulty level you play on, the sicker the stunts you’ll have to pull off and the more objectives you’ll have to finish before moving on. THUG2’s Story Mode is by far the best feature that the titles have to offer. And can you increase your skater’s stats? Yes. By doing certain tricks and tasks during Story Mode, you’ll increase your stats for balancing on board or improving your speed. There’s no need to do anything ridiculous like get 500,000,000,000,000,000 Experience Points or so since all Tony Hawk titles do not follow an Experience Point system.

Of course if you disliked Story Mode and favor more over the classical Carrier Mode, then you can always go to THUG2’s Classic Mode. You’ll find the usual 10-goal and 2-minute levels in there, only with some levels from Story Mode are in there. A few levels are competition levels, which you’ll have to compete for the best tricks and combos to earn a Bronze, Silver, or Gold. Get neither and you’re not qualified to move on. It is simple as such as long as you don’t fail in your tricks. You’ll also increase your skater’s stats, but instead of doing certain tasks to do so, you collect Stat Points scattered around in each level. This is the best Tony Hawk yet, really.

As for customization options, a highlight of the series since Pro Skater 2, THUG2 is loaded with it as now, you can change your skater’s voice between four voices, two for each gender. One is the lower voice while the other is the high-pitched. You choose. If a high customization for your skater isn’t enough, you can also edit your own tricks and even your graffiti tag when you’re on foot and spray on a wall. Be it, make two known tricks into one and tag walls with your dream design. THUG2 has it all.

And finally, saving the best for last, you can even make your own goals! Yes, goals! You know those goals that you encounter in Classic Mode like getting all S-K-A-T-E letters? You can do that. Did you want to create your own race around the level? You can do that too. And what about making a goal that requires you to reach a total score of 1,000,000 points or dish out a 10,000 point combo without bailing? Knock yourself out! To make things better, you can even make your goals in any level unlocked! Not just your own skate park! Do you want to start your goals in the warehouse? What about Australia? Let yourself go and dream! However, you can only set up to 10 goals for each level, but that’s more than enough since you can even save your list of goals as separate data on the memory card! And since you can do that, you can even share with your friends by going to each others’ houses! If you combine this feature with the other customization options, chances are that you can make your own game! Funny enough that the load screens sometimes mention the customization features and ends it with “Create your own game! Who needs Microsoft?”

--Final Words--
After enjoying this game as many times as I could, it is safe to say that Tony Hawk’s Underground 2: World Destruction Tour remains as the apex of the series for its addicting content, a hilarious Story Mode, tons of secrets, and far much more. It’s a pity that this game became the last we’ll see Hawk at his best, but give him credit. He’s still the best there is.

Score: 11 out of 10

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (US, 10/04/04)

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