Tony Hawk’s Underground 2

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
November 12, 2004

Activision; Rated T for teen; PlayStation 2

When it’s all said and done, you’ve got to give your props to Tony Hawk. Though the extreme athlete is getting a little long in the tooth (dude, he’s in his 30s!), he’s got a nice little franchise going with his eponymous skateboarding videogames.

Never mind that there’s a repetitive factor. Once you’ve played one — any one — you can’ “Underground,” but there are just enough new elements to induce gamers to plop down another $50 for the new version.

Here, your character is less the center of the skateboarding universe than in the last game. It’s assumed you made your mark in “Underground.” Now it’s your turn to cause some chaos and destruction against your opponents, who will pull the same dirty moves to beat you. There’s a reason this game is referred to as “THUG 2.”

Your level of enjoyment will depend on how you feel about all the “creative” options available to this game. As in last year’s version, you can scan your own face into the PS2 format. Unique to this version, you have the ability to tag buildings. It seemed a fitting tribute to tag the old Sun-Times building, since the site is being demolished to make way for Donald Trump’s super tower. It also is inarguable that all these bells and whistles have nothing to do with skateboarding. Hawk purists want more of a focus on the tricks, especially since the boarding aspects of this game aren’t that much of an improvement from say, two years ago. But that said, the additions enhanced game play for me, giving the game a sense of immediacy. I liked that skateboarding is used to enrich the storyline.

A nice bonus for any music fan is the eclectic array of songs available in this game. You’ve got your Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the Sugarhill Gang and X. But my favorite is Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” which holds up remarkably well even in this era. Also available on Xbox, GameCube, Gameboy Advance and PC.

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