SONY PSP REVIEW: TONY HAWK'S UNDERGROUND 2 REMIX
When it came to high-profile celebrity parties in the 70s and 80s, it was said that hardcore party animal, Ringo Starr, would attend the opening of an envelope. He may have been the least talented of the Beatles but he was still a Beatle nonetheless. Although Tony Hawk is certainly not a Beatle he's made appearances on all recent gaming systems including the NES and the N-Gage not to mention all of the next-gen systems as well as the GBA. Now here he is again to coincide with the launch of the PSP. He may not be Ringo and he may not be Mario but Tony still has drawing power.

As I see it, the most unsettling aspect of Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix is that it's so similar to the PS2 version that was released last year. It's impressive on that ground. From the graphics to the tight controls and the 50-plus song titles, Underground 2 Remix is hands down the most powerful game ever displayed on a handheld. The fact that it so closely resembles the PS2 version is not just impressive but disappointing. Most of us have already played this game to death. We don't need a clone on a portable even if it does have a few new modes and four new levels. Are we to expect a glut of PS2 clones being re-released for the PSP? Of course, so get used to it.

I don't really know how to rate a game like this since we've already reviewed it on the PS2. It's a great game for beginners and those that have only dabbled in the Tony Hawk skateboard universe but for many of us hardcores it's a short-lived novelty of a great game on a small screen.

Freestyle skateboarding may be old news but it's still fun, especially if you haven't played it for a year or two. The object is to score points by performing goals which include finding items and pulling off various tricks and combos. There are a few new moves included here such as the ability to leave your board which comes in handy for some wall plants and continuing combos by turning around and heading back in the direction you came from. You'll also need to get off your board in order to tag your territory by spraying graffiti. The natas spin lets you pivot around on items such as poles and hydrants much like a Globetrotter's basketball. It's a fun move but not entirely useful for accumulating points.

Vegas, Kyoto, Atlanta and Santa Cruz are the four new locations. They are fun to explore and seem to better fit the design of the PSP but it's not enough to recommend buying the game if you already own the PS2 version. You can notice that some graphics have been changed to conform to the PSP. There are some flat surfaces and blurry textures. This would have been a better game if it were created specifically for the PSP as is evidenced by the four new levels.

Tony teams up with that annoying MTV dork, Bam Margera, the kind of kid we used to send to boarding school, juvenile detention or the psyche ward. In any case you split up into two teams and set out on a worldwide tour of destruction, wreaking havoc and destroying everything in your path. The more things you destroy the more points you'll earn.

Skaters can be personalized by using a face map technique. Take an image of your face with a digital camera and then transfer it to the memory stick on the PSP. It looks decent but it doesn't make me want to wet my pants with excitement. I do kind of like the freak out move which lets you throw a temper tantrum when you bail.

The old, two-minute freestyle runs are back. They feature all of the locations in the story mode in addition to some of the old areas from the very first game. With 11 modes there is no shortage of gameplay variations. With the use of a wireless adapter the game can accommodate up to four players - it's the closest thing to online that you're going to get. Thankfully the screen is relatively free of icons and indicators. You do have to access another menu to get more details on your missions which is a pain but it's a tradeoff. To make things a little easier on you certain objects and areas will light up if you do a move on them and they turn out to be part of your objective.

Now that they've proven that the PSP is a worthy contender in the handheld market, let's see some more original games instead of this kind of rehash.

PReview by Vaughn

The more I see of the PSP the more I like it. Handheld gaming should be in full 3D and controlled by an analog stick in the year 2005 and it looks like I'm getting my wish. I make no apologies for my pledged allegiance to Sony's foray into the handheld gaming market over Nintendo's gimmicky DS. I've played a DS and wasn't particulary crazy about the control or the size of the screen. I'm not really all that wild about handheld gaming in general to be honest, but if I'm going to play on the go, I want to play something that I think is cool.

Speaking of cool, THUG 2 is making its way to the PSP in March, just in time for launch. Promising PSP exclusive levels, face mapping, wireless multiplayer and all of other features that made the console version a bonafied hit, PSP owners will proudly be able to take THUG 2 anywhere, and it will look as good as it's console brethren.

If you haven't played a Tony Hawk game recently, you're in for a surprise. The level structure is story driven and you'll find yourself playing as you, instead of a tricked out sk8tr superstar. Eventually you'll make your way up the ranks and have the opportunity to join either Tony Hawk or Bam Margera's team on the World Destruction Tour where insanity is not only welcome, but expected.

Press:

Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix takes players on an all new skating blitzkrieg where they embark on the ultimate road trip from Tony Hawk's Underground 2 in addition to wreaking havoc in four never-before-seen city-levels - Las Vegas, Atlanta, Kyoto and Santa Cruz -- that feature original goals, level changing events and unlockable characters. For the first time, players can live the Tony Hawk console gaming experience on a handheld device as they join either Tony Hawk or Bam Margera on a World Destruction Tour where they nail insane tricks with lightning speed or slow motion focus control, pull off mischievous pranks, and conquer sick terrain through 13 single-player levels, or face off against up to three friends in 10 wireless multiplayer games.

Features:

  • World Destruction Tour - Take off on an all-new skating blitzkrieg where two teams led by Tony Hawk and Bam Margera conquer sick terrain, pull off mischievous pranks, and make a host of international cities their personal stomping ground.
  • All-new levels, goals and level-changing events - Tear it up in all-new PSP-exclusive levels including Las Vegas, Atlanta, Kyoto and Santa Cruz, each filled with crazy new goals, secret and unlockable characters, and line-changing level events.
  • New multiplayer features - Play over 10, four-player mini-games wirelessly such as "Combo Mambo," "SLAP!" or "Scavenger Hunt" via the PSP's wireless network capabilities.
  • All new team play - Team Hawk versus Team Bam. Play as yourself or switch to play as a pro teammate or special guest skater, such as Ben Franklin or Jesse James - over 25 unique skaters in all.
  • Unparalleled customization - Create your own logo for use in graffiti tags with the all new Create-a-Graphic feature in addition to creating your own skaters, skate parks, decks, tricks, goals and levels of difficulty.
  • New player controls - Get huge air by performing a sticker slap off any wall or surface, go into slow-motion focus control and watch and learn how to perfect a certain trick or throw a hilarious tantrum mid-combo and get massive points.
  • Go beyond the board - Maneuver a variety of ride-able objects such as motorized scooters, hot dog stands and hospital gurneys, pelt bystanders with tomatoes and other objects and tag the turf with signature graffiti.
  • Two games in one - Wreak havoc in Story Mode or switch to play all of the new THUG 2 Remix levels in Classic Mode, and go up against a two-minute timer to complete all-time favorite goals like "C-O-M-B-O," "secret tape," and "high score."
  • Put your face in the game - Players can import their picture onto the PSP via any memory stick and map their face to create their own personalized game character in an instant.
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System: PSP
Dev: Shaba Games
Pub: Activision
Released: Mar 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by StewXX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
5.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
3.5