January 26, 2001
Activision weren't going to make the same mistake twice. The company handed the rights for the Dreamcast version of Tony Hawks Pro Skater to Crave, and watched that company enjoy the success following the games to excellent reviews from the press. For the second game Activision wisely held onto the publishing rights while Treyarch/Neversoft developed the game. This sequel is better all round. Everything has been improved from the graphics, number of skaters, number of tricks and the size of the levels. If you like the first game, you won't want to miss this.
Potentially the most important, and impressive area in THPS2 is the career mode. Here the game begins with you selecting one skater from a list of 12. From there you can go to the first area where you earn money for pulling off tricks and performing varying tasks. The can range from simply earning x amount of points within a time limit, jumping 3 gaps, finding hidden areas or a variety of other tasks. The money you earn can be used to upgrade your performance stats such as speed, grinding balance, hang time etc. The amount of money earned also determines when the new levels are unlocked. It's definitely not easy to complete all the tasks in each level but doing is very rewarding personally, and also unlocks new items.
Controlling the skater is fairly straightforward. Steering is via the analogue control while performing the tricks is done via a combination of the buttons and analogue stick. The problem is that landing the tricks can be quite difficult, especially if you are trying to rack up a lot of points. Yes, I understand that performing these tricks in real life is damn near impossible (I can hardly stand on a skateboard) but this is a game, and it's meant to be fun. If you've never played the game you will be tempted to mash all the buttons to perform incredible tricks, but landing them will be near impossible making the game quite annoying. The best way is to begin with some basic tricks and slowly build them up to something more spectacular.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about THPS2 is the interactivity of the levels. Everything can be skated on from the rails, to the floors, to the rooftops and even the building walls. The levels are absolutely huge with hidden areas to unlock in each level. At times you will find tasks impossible to complete until you improve your stats. This makes you focus on what your skater needs to improve on. You'd not going to grind 50 meters along the power lines if you have no grind balance.
One of the best features of THPS2 is the addition of a skate park editor. Although it is awkward to use a first it becomes a tremendous amount of fun when you begin to build gigantic ramps and bowls to skate in. These custom built tracks can be used throughout the game, except in the career mode. Expect a lot of fun showing off to your mates in your specifically built ramps. The other major editing area in the game is the Create Skater mode. This allows you to create a skater of your own choice. Unfortunately the game still doesn't include female skaters, but the number of options including skills, body, clothing and even hair style are also available.
Graphically, there is no doubt that the Dreamcast version of THPS2 is vastly improved from the PSOne game. The graphics are more detailed, even better then the PC version, especially with the textures. The biggest improvement over other versions is the frame rate. Although not perfect, THPS2 is far better then the jerky PSOne version. This makes it a lot easier to land with more accuracy and successfully pull off the tricks. The lighting is also very impressive, especially under the streetlights of New York where areas of light and dark are cast from the lampposts. The variety of the levels also deserves a mention with the game including both indoors and outdoors skating parks.
Do you like heavy metal? I don't, but it seems to suit the game pretty well. Tracks are provided by bands such as Rage Against The Machine, Bad Religion, Naughty By Nature, Anthrax & Chuck D, Papa Roach and Fu Manchu among others. The sound effects are also impressive with the wheels making different noises according to the surface being skated on. The ambient noises in the levels, such as trains, taxi drivers and the announcers around the parks are equally impressive.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 is a great game, but it's not the gaming masterpiece that some members of the press would have you believe. The graphics are fairly good and the sound (if you like heavy metal) is great. The gameplay is extremely addictive and pulling off complex tricks is just as difficult as it would be in the real world. Perhaps this is one of the games flaws, as the inexperienced will be temped to mash the buttons but rarely land a trick. It must be said that skaters will get a lot more out of this game then I did, so adjust your scores accordingly. Well done Neversoft, Treyarch and Activision on a brilliant game.