Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 Review

By: John Doe

When the first Tony Hawk Pro Skater was released last year, everyone thought it would be a great skateboarding game and that's where it would pretty much end. However, THPS appealed to all walks of life: young and old, skaters and non-skaters, females and males, dogs and cats, you name it. The reason it was so well received, was because all of the elements of the game contributed into an amazingly fun gaming experience. THPS2 is no different, and with the added elements of a create-a-park and create-a-skater feature, 12 pro skaters, new tricks, all new environments and incredible level design, the sequel is set to overtake the original. This is a fantastic game, but I bet you already knew that.


After playing THPS2, it's evident that Neversoft simply took the wish lists of what would have made the first game even better and added it into the sequel. There is nothing in this game that is weak. Everything from the intro that kicks in with RATM's "Guerilla Radio", to the aforementioned Create modes, to the 10 level objectives per area, even to all of the delicious secrets, this game is just plain over-the-top entertainment.

The team at Neversoft even managed to increase the polygon count of the skaters, improving the overall look and animation of the game. Considering the game looked great last year on the aging PSX, it's cool to see that more can be wrung out of the machine if the proper time is taken. There is still some heavy duty pop-in on the outdoor levels, but that's overlooked because 1) the environments are huge and 2) the pop-in doesn't interfere at all with the gameplay.

What you will notice about the environments in THPS 2 is that they are entirely more realistic than last years game. Whereas in THPS all of the walls seems to have curves on them, virtually turning all walls into semi-halfpipes, the structures in the sequel abide by the rules of the real world, most of the time. In doing so, the game is far more strategic than the first game. You'll really have to use your noggin if you want to get speed and air to make that jump; you won't just be able to go zipping up any wall in the nearby vicinity.

Another excellent improvement is the 10 objectives per level which are now cash based and not tape based. Every objective you complete will net you prize money which not only is used to open up subsequent levels (Example: you'll need $1500 to open the school level) but added to your file which can then be used to go shopping at the skate shop. You might have to locate the letters S-K-A-T-E like in the last game, or pull off a couple of special moves, find some gaps to jump etc. Very cool and makes the game that more challenging.

The two-player is largely the same as last year, but it still plays like a million bucks. The Tag Mode is new, which has the player that is "It" trying to bust moves to cripple the other players stats. The two-player games in THPS and THPS2 are excellent and I'm really thankful Neversoft kept it at two players and didn't try to involve 4. The two-player spilt screen I can handle.

Of course, there are 3 new skaters, Rodney Mullen, Eric Kosten, and Steve Caballero and hundreds of new tricks to pull off, including lip tricks. So if you thought you pulled off everything in THPS, better pony up to the bar and try your hand at the new kid. The control and camera is as tight as ever, so getting some air will never put you in a visual disadvantage. The inertia of the skaters seems to be more realistic as well, and I noticed that getting air on a half-pipe, will cause the skaters to be pulled in either direction when they reach the pinnacle of their jump.

Musically the game features hip hop and punk tunes by Papa Roach, Rage, Naughty by Nature, Lagwagon, Consumed, Millencollin, Powerman 5000 and more. If you are into Britney Spears than you may detest the tunes, but for the most part, the soundtrack fits very nicely into the style and atmosphere of the game.

Although I rarely comment on this kind of thing, the cheats in THPS2 are great. Not only does Officer Dick and Private Carrerra return, but you can also play as the Neversoft team members, an 80's version of Tony Hawk and your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The special characters even have their own ending FMV's and special moves. Spidey can pull off his "Does whatever a Spider can" which flips the skateboard away from him in mid-air, which he then shoots webbing at. Nice touch. The videos are excellent and as usual, the bails are hilarious and look to be quite painful.

The Coup de grace has got to be the Create-A-Park mode which will give this game lasting replayability limited only by your imagination and creative fervor. What could be better than modding a game so that you can play your own creations? This is a great tool that will allow you to not only challenge yourself, but your friends, or even those on the Internet if you own an InterAct Dex Drive. Since everyone will eventually own this game, expect to play some really cool parks.

What can I say? THPS2 is a must own game that will eventually be available for all systems, except the N64. Don't ask me why they decided to cancel the N64 version, but I really do feel for you Nintendo owners out there. This is a must have, must play game. But once again, I doubt you needed me to tell you that.






Back To PlayStation Index