Tony Hawk’s Underground XBox Review

This is the fifth Tony Hawk game and its like no other game in the franchise. First what makes it different is rather than picking a professional skater, you literally create your own skater or chose from pre made skateboarders and partake in the story mode (in the PS2 version you can get your face in the game, but not in X-Box). The story mode is similar to an RPG game in the fact that you wander / skateboard around an area, and certain people you can speak with. These people will give you objectives / goals to complete. Goals that range from collecting parts, five letters making up SKATE, to getting a high score and impressing other skaters or onlookers. Each goal has its own time limit and usually completing one goal leads to more. Unfortunately with all of these goals and talking to people (you can only talk to ones that have goals), it takes away from the freedom / skateboarding element. The goals have little to do with the story itself, which is being a New Jersey skate punk that wants to make it big and travel the world. The story involves escape from “dealers,” street gangs, vehicular destruction, cursing, fun mayhem (at least for the X-Box). The second thing that makes this game unique from any other is apart from being able to skateboard, you can now step off your skateboard (black button), run around, jump (A button) and cling to objects to climb them (R button). So now you can climb objects, jump off them to get some major speed on the way down. The game also has some goals where you drive cars, so that is a diversion that adds to the gameplay as well. You improve your skater’s abilities in the story mode by performing greater feats, such as getting speed, and jumping a quarter pipe, you will get a better skill at jumping or going down a pipe causing your skater to speed up you will improve your skill at speed. The X-Box version supports your own soundtracks, but you cannot load all your songs into one playlist, you must play them one playlist at a time. With all of this said there are several modes, unfortunately getting through all of the modes is cumbersome. First is the “create a goal” mode, where you first select a skate area you have been to, and the game lets you create a goal by first placing a person to give you the goal, then select a position where the player starts, then selecting the goal you are to accomplish (collecting SKATE letters, COMBO letters, high scores, tricks, and other goals). Also in this “create a goal” mode, you can select the pro skaters! The game has several of the pros like Tony Hawk, Jamie Thomas, Chad Masek and others or your created skater. Making all of these goals makes the game feel a little more like the old Tony Hawk Pro Skater games. There is a create a skater mode, which seems silly to have being that you need to create a skater to start the story mode. Next there is a create a skatepark editor which is very good when compared to past games. There are buildings, docks, full pipes, water, lava, rails, quarter pipes, pools and everything else to make into your skatepark with five themes to chose from. Finally the newest feature is the “create a trick”. You can create your own specials from grabs, flips, kick moves and other things. The tricks may only be used as specials though and they can last anywhere from a quarter of a second to two seconds. There is advanced online play as well as you can go online and get skate parks created by other players and challenge people to competitions. Overall, the X-Box game is dropping in price and its not that much different than the other versions for the Gamecube and Playstation 2 so you may want to go with this game because of the custom playlists and online play.

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