Video Game Review

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Platform: PS2, GameCube, Xbox, PC
  • ESRB: Teen
  • Players: 1-8
  • Online: PS2, PC
  • Developer: Neversoft
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Suggested Retail: $49.99
  • Graphics: B
  • Sound: A-
  • Gameplay: A-
  • Replay: A-
  • Fun Factor: A-
  • Reviewer’s Wild Card: A


By James Stevenson     October 08, 2004

© Activision

It's pretty amazing how each of the games in the TONY HAWK series has been consistently solid, added innovations, and even shook up the traditional gameplay with the first UNDERGROUND. The newest game not only builds on the UNDERGROUND formula, but also tosses in a classic mode for those who prefer the two-minute runs with hidden tapes, S-K-A-T-E, and C-O-M-B-O.

The tour mode of the game is similar to the original UNDERGROUND, except that now instead of talking to people for objectives, every objective is always active. The entire objective set in the game pretty much revolves around destroying things and wreaking havoc on the cities you'll visit.

Each city also has a couple of hidden characters, one of which will give you a new secret move. In Boston, you can find Ben Franklin who has the special "Franklin Grind," including a kite and lightning. Other characters show up as well with special vehicles that have the same controls as the skateboards, but also their own goals.

The tour mode has some awesome cut scenes that will have you laughing out loud. Whereas in the first UNDERGROUND the game looked gritty and realistic, this time Neversoft has taken a more comical approach to the world and brightened it up with colors and outrageous moments. As Bam and Tony's teams compete across the world to destroy things, the game doesn't fail to provide a few laughs.

The new gameplay elements add to the game as well. There


is the Natas spin that allows you to spin in place on a fire hydrant or other objects. The sticker slap allows you to stop on a wall, and reverse direction really quickly and even gain some height. This is very useful, and the number stickers leave a nice marking of your combo run. The focus mode allows you to slow things down when you are special and you can balance yourself more easily, performing more tricks, and keeping the special meter filled. When you bail, you can now jam on a button to ensure that you freak out bashing your skateboard and starting a new combo immediately. In addition to all of that, you can jump off the board as in the first game and tag graffiti the size of the tag is based on your current combo score. There is a very in-depth create-a-tag system with multiple layers and getting tags into high places will be another fun challenge for the guys who play HAWK religiously.

All in all, there are plenty of gameplay tweaks, the classic mode returns, and the story is over the top and fun. The PlayStation 2 (as well as the PC version) both feature online gameplay. I'd recommend one of those versions if you want to play online, the PS2 version for controller issues and if you don't care about online/controller, Xbox for visuals.

The game is colorful and looks good enough. The PS2 game can be a bit blurry, but it's not a major issue. The character animation in the cut scenes is over the top and outrageous and the game is incredibly colorful which each level has its very own unique look and feel.

The soundtrack is the wildest in the series yet. Johnny Cash and Frank Sinatra are in the game as well as other artists that you might expect like Metallica and Less Than Jake. The skateboarding sound effects are recycled from the older games, but do the job.

All in all, for fans of the series, this may be the best game yet. It combines a Classic and UNDERGROUND mode into the same game, adds new gameplay elements, and really captures the feel of a bunch of skaters goofing around. If you like any of the HAWK games, UNDERGROUND 2 is for you.

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