Game: Tony Hawk's Underground
Release Date:10/27/03 NA
It's been awhile since I've spent time with a Tony Hawk game. While I followed this game to it's release, I thought it was just going to be another Tony Hawk game. An expansion pack more than anything. I've been corrected.
This game stays true to the series. It didn't change the basics, like the beautiful control scheme and camera that existed from the beginning of it all. Rather than changes, they made additions. Finally, a series that doesn't replicate each time. Megaman comes to mind.
Alright, here's how this thing starts. You're working on your board in your room. Your longtime bud Eric tells you to come outside. You pick up your board, and you get to customize. You get a moderate variety of choices for your character. Just don't make my mistake and unknowingly end up with a pony tail.
After that, you're dropped in the middle of your New Jersey neighborhood. Considering the last THPS game I played through was 3, I was startled not seeing a clock at the top of my screen. I could screw around. Glorious.
Instead of going to the missions, I skated around town. What I first took notice of was the immense detail everywhere. Everything in the environment was worthy of a grind, or a makeshift quarterpipe. I was very pleased with this. Fans of old may remember fishing around for decent ramps and rails. That's gone for sure.
Another thing I immediately discovered was the spine transfer. This could very well be the most satisfying move in the game. You can do so much with this single added feature. I also became aware of the revert, and it's usefulness to rack up points effortlessly. The game explains from the beginning how things are to be done, at a nice pace. I needed a recap anyways.
The missions have undergone a major makeover since THPS 3. Now, you don't feel like you're doing completely useless goals, like knocking over cardboard boxes, or knocking a factory foreman into a tank of water. The missions seem to build up the story. Although, the pointless missions we at times love so much are still there if you want them.
Now, on to the stuff you want to read.
The graphics are smooth, detailed all around. Objects don't seem to be neglected at all. It makes me happy that Neversoft took the time to do that. Every motion in the game was fluid and realistic. The kind of thing we don't notice when it's there, but do when it's not.
There was a decent soundtrack on the game, but none of the songs really stood out. Of course, there's not very many songs worth putting on the game, under the circumstances that there's hardly any songs worth listening to anymore. Hate to dock them points, but they could have kept old songs. There's always the option, however, that if you're using an XBox, you could just load songs you saved on your harddrive and slap them into the game. Always a crowd pleaser.
I was pleased with the innovative steps Neversoft took. And they didn't go overboard with it. Driving cars, making your own skate team and video. Another thing worth noting is the cutscenes during the story. Although not as numerous, they were done quite well, comparable to the recent Grand Theft Auto games.
There's something magical going on when a game built on the same principles is still fun. And this game didn't lose any magic. The game is as groundbreaking and entertaining as the first.
The game series has come a very long way, making great advances each time another installment comes out. Underground made many advances, and left room for more to come. Neversoft knows how to keep people happy.
The game is worth it's weight in gold. If you buy the Gamecube version...well, it's worth twice it's weight in gold. Those discs are real small when you think about it. Buy this game, you won't be ashamed.