Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review #402: Tony Hawk's Underground

 It's been quite the ride, filled with bails and nails.
 It's interesting how everyone's got their own favorite Tony Hawk game, huh? Starting with 2 up to Underground 2, each game and those in-between have their own collective of people that consider it the best in the series, heck, even American Wasteland's got a few! Underground 1 marked quite a change for the series, now a story mode surrounding your created skater would become the norm, and it introduced the ability to get off your board, a godsend!

 The game features the usual assortment of modes: Story, in which you follow your created skater's story as he deals with Eric Sparrow's antagonizing shenanigans over and over and over again. The story is surprisingly fun, and Eric is a character you'll learn to despise, making for an engaging villain of sorts. Free Skate is back, of course, and so is the usual gamut of multiplayer modes. Besides creating a character, there's a new 'create a trick' menu, but it's not too in-depth and I didn't really care about it.
 For as amusing as the story is, the mode itself is a bit lacking in polish. There're a bunch of car driving missions, which while not annoyingly hard, certainly are a bit of a bore. The controls are sluggish, the driving feels awful, the stages were not meant for cars and the missions are uninteresting, luckily they did away with these in future installments. There were a few too many 'Find X amount of Y' missions for my liking, it even seeped into other missions like 'Find X and perform Y trick next to them', you don't even get a compass, so they are timed scavenger hunts, kinda like the older Tony Hawk games.... of which I'm not that much of a fan and it's worse since these stages are quite large. The challenge is finding the stuff, not performing it, it's not fun, it's not challenging.

 What it does get right are the new additions and how stats work. Stats are gated behind challenges that you must perform, like grinding for 8 seconds in order to enhance your grind, and these challenges are gated behind story progression. This makes sure that you won't be too overleveled for current tasks, which is fine, while also having, in my opinion, the most fun way to increase your stats. As for the ever growing pool of moves, tricks and techniques, we've got getting off your board, which lets you easily reposition yourself as well as wallplanting, by pressing X and down when going towards a wall, which serves not only as a way to extend your combos but to avoid losing one if you would've hit the wall.
 I think Underground deserves to get praised for all that it brought to the series. Whether you like it or not, having an actual story became a focus point on the series, which I liked, and the new mechanics, getting of your board and bouncing off walls would become some of the best tools to get around levels or extend combos, with creativity and ingenuity. That said, for as much as the game meant for the future of the franchise, I do think that Underground 1 is a bit lackluster, but entirely enjoyable.
 7.5 out of 10

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