Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was easily one of the best console skating titles to come out since skatepunk teens conquered mall parking lots, its frenetic action captivating kids, teens, and adults alike. A sequel was inevitable, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 duly made its debut on the Sony PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo Game Boy Color, and, yes, even on the PC.
Yes, the said gaming platform that has given us action-packed fare such as Myst, The Sims, and untold soccer management simulations now boasts a port of a console skater. Furthermore, it’s really good. Unlike the bandwagon-jumping MTV Sports: Skateboarding Featuring Some Guy Who Isn’t Tony Hawk, this is an inspired title that emphasizes all the good points of the console-bred original. It boasts easy-to-learn, difficult to master controls, all the high-flying stunts this side of the Venice Beach skateparks and a raft of great gameplay modes.
First, however, a word of caution: Tony Hawk 2 is one of the more demanding arcade games available for any platform. So unless you’re accustomed to doing more with your gamepad than letting it gather dust while you click your way through Baldur’s Gate, you’ll be in for a wild ride (at least for a while). All of the modes of playâ€”single-player Career Mode, Single Session, Free Skate, and multiplayer Graffiti, Trick Attack, and Tagâ€”require unequaled accuracy in the art of D-pad pushing and button mashing. If your timing isn’t nearly perfect, you’ll fall down and get bruised. Lots.
Once you get some practice in, you’ll be leaping over obstacles and grinding rails like the 13 pros included in the game. You may lack the status of Chad Muska and Rune Glifberg in real life, but step into their shoes here and you can pull off their every Indy Stiffy and Ollie North. Or create your own skater, complete with customized skills and appearance, right down to tattoos. Your stunts take place on and over eight huge levels that look great and encompass all sorts of neat terrain. Over the course of the game you’ll tour a semi-abandoned airplane hangar, the streets of the Big Apple, and a sunny Venice Beach.
Still, there are problems to consider before plunking down that plastic. The biggest beef is that Tony Hawk 2 is geared too much toward long-term play. Only one park is available at the beginning of the game; you have to unlock the remaining seven. While it’s great that a skateboard title has such outstanding depth, this shouldn’t come at the expense of instantaneous fun. The game is so challenging that many players, especially those older PC veterans, will likely give up in a haze of frustration (“I fell again?!”) and boredom (“man, this hangar’s starting to look awfully familiar”). Forcing you to endure the grueling Career Mode just to unlock material that you have already paid for is just counter-intuitive. Fortunately, there’s a cheat to unlock every location if you’re in a hurry.
Despite this aggravation, there’s something about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. The attitude, the pulse-accelerating soundtrack, and the compulsion to pull off just one more high-scoring trick make it a winner. As pure arcade titles go, this is one of the better sports ports to be seen on the PC.
System Requirements: Pentium 233 Mhz, 32 MB RAM, >Win 95/98, 320 MB Free Space
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