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Tony Hawk's Underground 2
(hx) 08:48 PM EDT - Oct,24 2004

Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (THUG 2) is the sixth in Neversoft's impressive series of skateboarding games in as many years. As you might expect, THUG 2 follows in the footsteps of its predecessors and tries to bring some more goodies to the series. THUG 2's main focus is on story-based gameplay of the first THUG and the old-school Tony Hawk Pro Skater (THPS) crowd.

Perhaps the biggest news for fans of the previous games in the series is the two major modes of play, Story (World Destruction Tour) and Classic modes. You will start off as a fresh, young skater new to the pro experience. Along with a dozen other newbies, you've all been kidnapped by pros, Tony Hawk as well as Bam Margera. They've split everyone up into two separate teams and are having the groups compete in a World Destruction Tour that takes places in six different cities around the world. The cities span the entire globe, and include such locales as Australia, Russia, France, Germany, and Spain. To kick off the World Destruction Tour, your team heads over to Boston. The level will feel familiar yet new to longtime Tony Hawk fans. There are all kinds of places for you to explore, lines for you to discover, and objectives for you to conquer. You will be able to switch between characters in your team, and also to play with some of the hidden characters.

Each city on the tour hosts a number of goals you'll have to accomplish to fulfill your team's quota of points. Complete enough of the missions in Boston and you get to move on to Barcelona. Each level has a couple of secret characters, each of the characters has trademark signatures and moves that once they are unlocked, become part of the whole single-player repertoire of moves. The levels are lively and varied, with plenty of humorous touches and scripted events, including a hidden destruction event for each level.

For those of you who prefer the classic THPS gameplay, Neversoft reinstated the two-minute timed runs of the originals in a separate Classic mode, which is more challenging and arguably more satisfying than Story alternative. In this mode, various levels from throughout the series are taken and given a treatment that's both new and old at the same time.

The online game is pretty much the same as it was in the previous game, with a few additional modes. Up to eight players can participate in the standard game modes like capture the flag, trick attack, score challenge, combo mambo, slap, king of the hill, firefight, and graffiti. The game's new modes are elimiskate and scavenger hunt. In the scavenger mode, the players, including you, hide coins in a level and then everyone runs around trying to find these coins. The person that has the most coins at the end of the time wins. In the elimiskate mode, the player with the lowest amount of points is eliminated until one remains. The game supports eight-players online, but also includes two-player offline multiplayer.

The other modes on Tony Hawks's menu are the create modes where you can make your own park, skater, graffiti, create your own trick and even make your own goals. The PC version of the game allows you to import a custom face into the game, all you need is a 128x128 image of it.

What about controls? You can play THUG 2 via the keyboard and mouse and it is functional, but the game was clearly made for consoles - which mean that using the keyboard is rather frustrating. The most significant control addition is an option called "focus," which runs the game in slow motion. On a practical level, you'll need to use this mode to beat objectives where a perfect landing is required.

All in all, THUG 2 is probably the greatest Tony Hawk's PC game of all. All you really need is a good controller since the keyboard really isn't the best way to play.

related links: Soundtrack info, movie trailer (62MB)

Minimum System Requirements: Pentium III 800 MHz or Athlon 800 MHz or higher processor, 256MB RAM,  3D hardware accelerator 100% DirectX 9.0c-compliant 32 MB (GeForce 2/3/4/FX, ATI Radeon 7500/8500/9000/9600/9800, Parhelia), DirectX 9.0c-compliant true 16-bit sound card and drivers, quad speed CD-ROM drive, 2.5 GB of uncompressed hard disk space

Multiplayer requirements: Internet (TCP/IP) and LAN (TCP/IP) play supported, Internet play requires a 100% Windows 98/ME/2000/XP-compatible 56k modem or broadband connection and latest drivers, LAN play requires network interface card and latest drivers

snd: 4/5 - solid, terrific soundtrack (Frank Sinatra, Metallica, Rancid, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ministry), some sound effects are recycled from the older games
gfx: 3/5 - dated but still much greater than a console version (1280x1024 makes the game seem more impressive), huge new levels are well designed, bullet time effect, ability you to import a custom face into the game, clipping issues, no DirectX 9 or pixel shader effects
playability: 5/5 - addictive, lots of new features (ability to pick up apples or tomatoes and throw them around, etc), story mode is really enormously fun to play, multiplayer up to 8 players
genre: skateboarding sim
platform: PC (also available on Xbox, PS2, GC, GBA)
release: October 2004
developer: Neversoft Entertainment
publisher: Activision
Overall: 85%

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