Tony Hawk's Underground
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8  |  We can be happy (Tony hawk) underground! (Review, PS2)
fishbulb , 11/7/2003 5:33:03 PM
THUG - Tony Hawk's UndergroundBefore I start to review this game I should probably point out that I am a big fan of the Tony Hawk franchise. Up to about a week ago, I could still occasionally be found playing Tony Hawk 4 online (LOL San Francisco Trick Attack, everyone by the pier!!!). So, I don't think there's any way this can be 'unbiased,' whatever that means.

Anywho. As you are probably aware, Tony Hawk's Underground is the fifth "Tony Hawk Pro Skater" game that has been released in what has to be one of the more successful modern franchises. The game play hasn't really changed dramatically from the 4th installment. This is another game which has received a lot of talk in the gaming press about its 'Grand Theft Auto' like 'freedom' and that's a bunch of horse doo doo.  The level layout on THUG isn't any more open or free than it was on THPS4, in fact, one could argue that it's more linear than the previous games, in that you have to complete missions to advance the plot. That's right. There's a plot.

For some reason, I guess they decided that a game about skateboarding needed a plot. I don't know why. People pick up football and baseball games every season without a plot. Is Madden next year going to add a 'story' mode in which your team's quarterback gets removed from the team for murdering his limo driver or something? No. Of course not, because you don't need a plot on a sporting game. For some reason I guess Activision and Neversoft don't consider this franchise in that same light, so they feel it necessary to give a plot to a game which has been perfectly successful without one for 4 outings. I can't really fault them for trying something new to breathe more life into their franchise, but the way they implemented it is pretty stupid. You play a low level street punk skater who wants to 'make it big.' Okay, that's fine, but what are you going to do for THUG2? Do you think people are going to want to be a lowly skate punk who has to work their way up the ranks in every game you release?  And then they give you this 'buddy' character who works his way up with you, and he has to be the most annoying thing on the game.  I seriously think he needs a good old fashioned country anal raping.

Luckily, despite the pointless addition of a plot, the game play hasn't changed dramatically. Once again Neversoft has decided to add another 'move' to your set to allow you to prolong your combos. On previous games they added manuals and reverts, which allowed you to essentially do super long combos going across flat ground when you didn't have something you could grind across, and to link half pipe moves together for more points. Apparently there was someone out there who thought that people just needed more ways to extend their combos because now you can RUN. How exactly getting off your skate board to run counts as part of a skating combo is beyond me. It is useful to be able to climb and jump and run without the board, since the level design includes more buildings and hidden spots, but allowing it to be part of your skating combo just seems like they were reaching for ways to say they added something to the game play.  STOP IT. At this point, your game is an established franchise. There is no need to add more functions to the game play. Give us more levels, more tricks, hidden videos and characters, we will be happy. New functions aren't necessary, and besides, at this point you can't possibly add anything new to the game play in the next game without making things absurdly complicated. There are 10 buttons on the PS2 controller, and we are already using all of them, don't try to shoehorn something else onto the game. Please? For me. Promise? Pinky swear?

Okay, so despite all that, its still really the same Tony Hawk game we've been playing for years, and there is nothing wrong with that. The game play is fun, the new levels are designed well enough and they have included some of the more popular older levels as hidden prizes, which is always good. The addition of a trick editor allows even more customization and individuality in the game, and for the first time ever, you can give your created skater A HAWAIIAN SHIRT! Thank you happy lord Jesus.

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