Finally! Let me just say it is an extreme pleasure to have you request personally fulfilled by Neversoft: the ability to frikken get off your board! One of the biggest gripes I had with Tony Hawk was the fact that the skater was a big freaking toy that can never get off his board. Now you can.
When it comes to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, there are some standards that have remained constant throughout the entire series. In the game’s career mode, you picked a skater and went from level to level, completing goals that really didn’t have much to do with being a professional skater. Year after year, the career mode got bigger with more goals and slowly tying them into the pro skater’s real-life career. Sure, starting with the second game in the series, you could create your own skater, but that was decent more than anything else, and the focus from year to year was on a series of new moves that kept the gameplay fresh and made the next installment in the series as great as the previous one.
This year, rather than focus on replacing the levels and adding new layers of depth to the gameplay, Activision and Neversoft have tried to turn the entire series upside down, taking the focus off of the skaters who are already professionals and instead putting the spotlight on an unknown skater and his quest for fame, which takes him from the mean streets of New Jersey to the heights of skateboarding stardom. While the classic Tony Hawk gameplay is present, and still fantastic after all this time, the new story mode does not make as dramatic of a change as it probably could have really done.
The level design is quite different in Tony Hawk’s Underground. Not only are the levels bigger, but they’re also designed in a slightly more realistic fashion. Many levels aren’t filled with ramps, and other such items tend to be very grind-friendly, and the rails are designed to carry you from one skate spot to the next. The urban environments also contain a lot of hidden spots to skate on. Many rooftops will contain bowls, and you can even go inside some of the buildings to find even more skate-worthy material.
Like the last two Tony Hawk games, Underground has support for online games on every console (Xbox and PS2). The modes found in Tony Hawk 4 all return here, including score competitions, graffiti, HORSE, goal attack, and so many more fun and exciting features. The online option in Underground has been expanded, a bit, extending the profile option found in Tony Hawk 4 to include stat tracking. The game also tracks high scores for all of the game’s levels, which is a good way to see how you stack up against other players.
Buy this game! Now. Go!
*Not Awarded Editor’s Choice due to limited level variety