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Tony Hawk’s Underground Review

Developer: Neversoft Publisher: Activision
Release Date: October 27, 2003 Also On: GCN, PC, PS2 and Xbox

Most people believe the Tony Hawk franchise is truly dead. Yet year after year, they have delivered quality gaming, up there with many other yearly gaming franchise’s, like Madden and Final Fantasy. Now that the Tony Hawk series is in its 5th edition, can it deliver the same experience with new ideals or will it start to die out?

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Visually, this is the best Tony Hawk game around. THUG has huge, immersive levels that each have their own unique look. Board detail is very good, seeing as now the boards will wear and tear like in real life. The paint on the board scratches away when the board is sliding a lot as well. Character models are the most life like that they have ever been. Now the faces are detailed and they have animation in all points of it, but with all these enhancements, there are a few drawbacks. There are some collision detection problems with the skaters as well as some clipping that occurs. Player’s arms go through walls , other people, and cars. Also, the arms on the characters go through the shirt when they bend. Overall, it isn’t really bad.

Sound has actually improved somewhat here. All the normal sounds from the first Tony’s are here, only they are improved to sound even more lifelike when landing or grinding. Music is where all of the Hawk games have failed in ever since THPS2. Well this time around, it’s different. There are over 75 songs in Underground to skate to. There is a big mix of Punk, Rock, and Hip-Hop songs on the original track list. Plus, the thing that is really cool about it is that you can just turn off certain genres of music like in Amped. Xbox users can also use their custom soundtracks here, although it’s not really necessary.

Ever since the original, the Tony series has been very tight on the control. THUG doesn’t change anything here. Some new features are added to keep you skating even more. Things like pressure flips, walking, driving, and the return of the boneless from THPS2 fits in perfectly for the control layout. Even though the control of skating feels good, driving is completely different. It feels very weird and is kind of hard to control. Other than that, this game has perfect control. (Except for the fact you have to drive a lot during missions)

Creativity is where this game shines best. Now, instead of a career mode, you have a story mode that takes you from a poor kid that lives in New Jersey, to a total pro at the end. Now, you can also create your own tricks and boards for your skater in story mode. The park editor has been improved to include building, wires, homes, mailboxes, everything a normal level has, even goals. You get to make your own goals for the parks and even the real levels. You can make all different types of goals that you can really play in the levels. You can always take your goals and save them to your memory card and give it to your friend to try and beat it. Even though the PS2 version has the best features in downloading your face into the game and online play, the Xbox and cube version are still fantastic.

With all these added features, THUG has improved a lot because of it. The length of the game has changed compared to Tony 4 however. THPS4 took me a lot longer than THUG has which took me 4-5 hours to complete the game for the first time with all goals. There are four different skill levels that the game sports and it challenges you a different way every time. Sick mode is the hardest difficulty level in which only the best Tony players should venture. However, even though I consider myself a great player, I am still having a hard time completing all the goals on sick mode. There are only a certain amount of goals that you need to complete in each level in order to move on. This is a good thing since you can weed out the ones that are giving you trouble till the end of the game. You need to do those goals eventually to unlock all of the hidden skaters, cheats, movies, etc. Plus, add the fact that you can make your own goals only extends the game forever. You can keep finding new and different ways to challenge yourself and your friends all the time. With all this, Tony Hawk’s Underground is truly worth your time and money!

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9.4
Written by Shawn Review Guide