Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 Review
P233, 32MB RAM, 350MB HDD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Oct 31, 00 (released)
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Ta-da-da-a... (Canned applause) Finally... On a PC near you ... it's Mr. skateboarding himself... Mr. Tony Hawk!!!! (Canned applause x3). Well, it was high time someone realized that PC players hunger for extreme-sports simulations. Or did they intentionally torture us whilst giving all the pleasure to those dirty little console players?
One day before I started writing this review I was a bit confused. Something's bound to be wrong if a professional game reviewer gets hooked on a game without actually realizing what he likes about it. I played the game for almost a week and I still couldn't tell what the heck was so good about it... I immediately forgot all the prejudice I had about the final product and ever since I wrote the THPS2 preview I wasn't that sure of what to expect from the game once it finally appeared, considering the fact it was a PSX port. Even the demo I got to play this summer arose negative feelings with its low-quality textures. I tried convincing myself that it still was just a downloadable demo with, probably highly compressed textures. Now, I can freely say that the game got rid of all the usual PSX bugs...
It is a bit stupid to start off the review with these tech-aspects of the game, since as I already started... The typical PSX conversions usually have very poor textures and a weird interface. Now, as for the interface, this game isn't that bad, though I do hate playing games in which I have to type in my name by moving the cursor over the letters, or which have a very bad mouse support. The graphics are decent. THPS2 3D engine is just right - you cannot say it brings anything new or spectacular, but it also has no major flaws. The texture quality, number of objects, and level of detail are quite 'normal' for modern games. You will get to see some special effects like reflections in the wind tunnel on the first level, sparks, and similar trifles... My biggest remark concerning graphics would be that they sometimes left holes in level design, through which you can see the monochrome background, which makes you feel you're skating on a stage set rather than streets of New York... And the shadows tend to act weird, they can sometimes completely disappear, or more frequently change color, sometimes becoming lighter than the terrain they are cast upon.
Character animation is great. The game contains a great number of tricks performed in fluid motion. Only the falling animations look like they are missing some frames. If we take MTV Sports Skateboarding for example, falling in this game seems much more spontaneous (including some spontaneous blood) and after that, the driver slowly picks the skate up and continues the ride.
So much for the tech-mumbo-jumbo (I couldn't help nagging about PSX)... And now for the aspect of this game that makes it one of the most praised games, the aspect that will wreck many a relationship and make many guys sit all night in front of their screen and stumble around school the day after. Gameplay (with a capital G). The game controls are hard to get used to, but once you do get the hang of them, you'll become a cyber-sk8 virtuoso after just a couple of tracks played. This game will solve all your frustrations you got if you tried to do anything like this in real life with just a couple of keys (cursor keys, flip keys, grind, grab, jump/accelerate and switching on board). The feeling is fantastic. Most tricks are just two keys away. You'll learn how to easily perform insane maneuvers on literally any object. You can perform Ollie whenever you want; and you can grind against almost all objects: stairs, boxes, pipes, and walls. You can drive on a wall or jump on moving cars (and even a raging bull during the bull-fight) and it all looks good and natural. And when you start linking one trick to another... perfect! Of course you can always fall, but that somehow never made me mad. The game leaves you the possibility to make a mistake, and if you do, you can be sure it was your fault. The game is defiantly far better balanced than MTV SS where you could jump up to ten meters high with not much trouble, only to find yourself on the ground for the slightest mistake (grinding, not-sufficiently-perfect-jump, etc.).
Amazingly playable and contagious, a great number of moves, interesting levels and did I mention the music?
Smaller flaws concerning graphics and interface, mostly as a result of the game's PSX origin.