Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Review
|Developer: Vicarious Visions||Publisher: Activision|
|Release Date: October 4th, 2004||Also On: GCN, PS2, and Xbox|
While the Tony HawkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Pro Skater and Tony HawkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Underground games have been successful on the Playstation 2, GameCube, and Xbox, the handheld versions of the games have had a lot of trouble drawing in fans of the bigger games. The Game Boy Advance versions have always been plagued with an isometric view that was acceptable back when Tony HawkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Pro Skater 2 came out, but now with the Nintendo DS and its 3D capabilities, I find it to be pure laziness that the handheld iteration of Tony HawkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Underground 2 was ported sloppily to the Game Boy Advance.
While the past games have been solid attempts to recreate the skateboarding experiences from the big-brother console games, Tony HawkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Underground 2 simply goes overboard with the amount of things that can be and need to be done in order to play the game. There are so many different maneuvers in the game that it is almost impossible to map everything to the GBAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s four-button setup. The Natas Spin is almost impossible to do, as youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll basically have to be skating an inch away from an object to hop onto it. The Focus Mode is Ã¢â‚¬Å“convenientlyÃ¢â‚¬? mapped to the L trigger, which happens to be the same button that operates your Flip Tricks. More often than not, I was Focusing when I was simply trying to kickflip. This results in a frustrating, sluggish, and forgettable experience that shames the otherwise impressive series.
In Underground 2 for the GBA, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll still skate around large levels that include Boston, Barcelona, Australia, and SkatopiaÃ¢â‚¬â€all ported and altered for the GBAÃ¢â‚¬â€but basically, any sense of enjoyment that could be found in completing missions has been lost in the translation. While some challenges in the console version seemed repetitious, they canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t compare to the handheld game, where every level contains the same boring chores. Before I reached the gameÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s end, I had already collected SKATE and COMBO letters, played HORSE, and tagged graffiti locations more than I ever cared to do. The experience isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just boringÃ¢â‚¬â€itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s painful.
The cramming doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just end there. While the graphics are colorful and respectably detailed for a handheld game, they are simply too much for the game to handle, as the frame rate often drops when you skate through grass or a vehicle drives across the screen. The trick animations hold up nicely, but most of the animations are actually the same ones that have been in the handheld series since THPS2. Only to add to the jumbled mess is the awful music. While I find it interesting that Vicarious Visions managed to cram actual clips from the console versionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s soundtrack, there are only four or five songsÃ¢â‚¬â€meaning I hated Ã¢â‚¬Å“Rock and Roll High SchoolÃ¢â‚¬? and Ã¢â‚¬Å“Break on LooseÃ¢â‚¬? within the first few hours of gameplay.
My personal opinions as a fan of the series (even the handheld predecessors) are very negative, as I feel this title simply overloads itself. While this plastic-encased junk is available for the Game Boy Advance, the developers are also working on a PlayStation Portable version that is fully-3D and even has parts that the console version didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have. I sit and ask, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Why couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t this have been on the DS?Ã¢â‚¬? Even with the isometric view, the graphics could have been better, the music could have been longer, and the gameplay might not have been so choppy. I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t recommend this game to anyone, and if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re looking for a roadside skateboarding game, wait for the PSP game or buy the GBAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s previous Hawk titlesÃ¢â‚¬â€they are much better than this game.
|Replay Value/Game Length:||6.5|
|Written by Cliff||Review Guide|