Sunday, April 2, 2017

Now Playing: Tony Hawk's Underground 2

 Now this, THIS is MY Tony Hawk.
 Now, I've played my fair share of Tony Hawk games(3, 4, Underground 2, Project 8 and Proving Ground) but this one is easily my favorite. While my knowledge about 1 and 2 is pretty limited to a few vids and 2's demo disc, I'm pretty sure that Neversoft hit their stride, when it came to developing levels, with 4. But Underground 2's levels are just so goddamn good, it houses most of my favorite levels in the entire franchise.

 But I'm getting ahead of myself, there's so much more that makes Underground 2 oh so good. I could mention how this was, at its time, the most advanced, in depth and varied entry yet, but that hold true for every single entry, since each game just fine tuned what worked and piled up even more mechanics. So I might as well mention the fantastic structure that lets the player fulfill goals at their leisure, and man, are these goals fun! They are varied, ridiculous and marred in that immature punk-skater sense of humor, probably some of the best goals in the series yet. But maybe, maybe you don't like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4's goal system, that's just as fine, since Underground 2 also has a Classic Mode, with a few unique levels to itself! There's absolutely no going wrong with THUG2, whether you like classic Tony Hawk or... erm, post-3 Tony Hawk.

 There's a lot more I could mention as to why I love the game, but I'm saving it for the review, needless to say, this game is the perfect example of how Tony Hawk fell when it jumped into the PS3/X360 era. They tried too hard to be more realistic, sacrificing the franchise's  sense of humor. This also seeped into the missions, which became more grounded in reality, more boring and more repetitive. And realistic isn't necessarily bad per se, but when one of your biggest strengths is your over the top ridiculousness... letting go of it was a bad move. Another issue was how lame the new mechanics were, like Nail the Trick, Nail the Grab and Nail the Manual, but they were probably grasping at straws since the games were already loaded with so many mechanics

 But what really killed the games for me... were the new level designs. While, as I mentioned, I feel like Tony Hawk's games' levels hit their sweetspot with 4, even the previous games followed the same school of thought: Theming. Each level had its own theme, which made it fun to skate through. Project 8 and Proving Ground went with realism, and in doing so, skate parks lost their personality and became dull, lifeless and boring... everything a Tony Hawk game isn't.

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