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Graphics : 7.5

It's important to realize the role of graphics in a game like Tony Hawk. In this game, their purpose is to enhance the gameplay, and that's all they do. Neversoft has done a superb job with the character models, which react realistically to falls and bumps. The physics and corresponding graphics work well, and the game's graphics allow it to flow reasonably well. Considering that almost anything can be done to character models when it comes to customization, you have to give Neversoft credit: no matter what you do to your virtual self, he looks rather sharp.

While the graphics in the game are crisp, the visuals during the cinematic sequences are a little lacking: they seem almost out of proportion. This seems like it was done on purpose to create further humor and give the cutscenes a unique style, and it works to an extent. The completely outrageous cast of characters is brought to life with over-the-top graphics and expression or emotion.

Having seen this game on a few systems, the PlayStation 2 version holds it own. The X-Box version has slightly better graphics: objects stay in focus much longer and the game has an even more developed look when it comes to the skating arenas. The PC version, of course, is probably the best when played on a solid gaming system, and the GameCube edition isn't lacking either. Nevertheless, PS2 owners won't be jealous of other systems when it comes to this title, especially since it has an easy controller configuration, online play, and more than decent graphics.

The graphics don't amaze the gamer, but should they in a game like this? The visuals, like the plot, do enough to get the job done efficiently and adequately.

Sound : 9.5

The first Tony Hawk game must have had about 8 songs, all of which I heard too many times. Naturally, I'm much more pleased with THUG2, which offers over 50 songs by a cornucopia of artists: Metallica, the Doors, Atmosphere, Violent Femmes, and yes, the Chairman of the Board himself, Frank Sinatra. The game offers extensive options on these matters, allowing you to select what genre or songs you want to hear (or not to hear). The game really outdoes itself in this sense: the music is constantly in the background, truly enhancing the game.

The voice-overs are also well-managed, as each character has a distinctive voice. The voice acting, especially for the main cast, is stellar. It is, for the most part, more like a movie in this sense: the synching is nearly perfect, and the direction must have been extraordinary to achieve such results.

The sounds of crunching bones and crashing skateboards are back as well. The sound effects are always timed correctly and usually represent the appropriate injury. My only complaint in regards to sound effects is that some seem hackneyed and over-used. I was able to recognize the sound effects from earlier versions of Tony Hawk. On the other hand, if the sound effects work, why change them? Considering the gigantic compilation of music and the great voice-overs, my little beef with unoriginal sound effects is miniscule. The sound greatly adds to the overall experience and brings the game to life. (If it is possible, I recommend that you purchase an audio cable that allows you to utilize the 5.1 Surround Sound feature. It is becoming more prevalent in games and really changes how a game sounds sometimes. I've been very pleased with mine.)

This game is undoubtedly a pleasure to play, but for how long? Quite a while. Sure, I would grow quickly tired of Story Mode, but what of it? When I grew tired of one type of game, I switched to another. When that grew tiring, I would design a park (or try to) or perhaps create a new skater. By the time I had exhausted all my options, I was craving more of the story or some classic Tony Hawk action.

As entertaining as all these modes are, however, the game offers very few truly new and innovative features gameplay wise. Veterans will surely love this game, but it's conceivable that one could tire quickly as there is nothing that new about this game. With plenty of gameplay modes but few truly new ideas, this game will entertain for a long time, but not forever.

Overall Score ( not an average ) : 8.0

In some ways, THUG2 is an outstanding success: it has sold quite well for Neversoft, offers fresh material, and gives the gamer plenty to do along with an excellent soundtrack to do it to. On the other hand, it does not introduce many new ideas into the series and has continued the tradition of tweaking gameplay rather than revamping it. Should you buy this game? It's a difficult question with a complex answer.

If you love Tony Hawk more than life (I hope there aren't too many people out there feeling this way) than of course you will want to buy this game. It is the best in the series so far and brings more to the table than any other. Fans of the series will not object to much or any of the material here in THUG2.

If you are somewhat of a Tony Hawk franchise fan, your decision should depend on a few factors. If you are looking to experience Story Mode and try out the new game, I recommend you do just that: try it. Rent it. Chances are that you will beat Story Mode and see enough of the game. The Classic Mode can be found in all the other Tony Hawk games and may not entertain you anymore. However, if you have only played one or two Tony Hawk games and are not a hardcore fan, this is the definitive game of the series: it offers all types of gameplay, new and classic levels, and everything from the games you didn't play or buy.

THUG2 is either a grand compilation of old and new material that delights with great gameplay or another attempt by Neversoft to make more money with very little new concepts. It all depends on how you, the gamer, perceive it. Overall, the game is very entertaining and well-done. Neversoft has hardly outdone themselves, but this expansive game is not shabby by any stretch.



Page 1: Gameplay

- Doom (4 Nov, 2004)


Scores
Gameplay
8.5
Graphics
7.5
Sound
9.5
Replay Value
7.5
Overall Score
8.0



Developer
Neversoft
Publisher
Activision
Origin
U.S.
Genre
Sports
Action
Players
1
Features
Online
Multiplayer
Peripherals
Dual Shock 2
8MB Memory Card
Network Adapter
Release Date
North America
October 5th, 2004
Europe
October 8th, 2004
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More screenshots of Tony Hawk's Underground 2



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