Friday 12 June 2015

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (PS1 review)

Developer: Neversoft
Publisher: Activision
Released: 2000

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 was released a year after the original and brought with it a number of gameplay additions.

This time the levels have been increased from six to ten and include locations such as New York City, Venice Beach and a Bullring in Mexico. You're encouraged to explore each one in depth as there are many hidden sections to be found. The objectives have been raised to ten per level with much more variety and trick-specific goals. It's immediately obvious that the frame-rate has been dramatically improved from the original and pulling off tricks is a lot easier. The main control innovation is the introduction of manuals; these are performed by quickly pressing Up then Down on the d-pad and they allow you to link tricks together for much bigger scores. This seemingly minor addition opens up gameplay possibilities as it connects the levels and trick objects together in a way that felt much more isolated in the first game. Instead of automatically levelling up you gain cash for each completed objective which you can spend in the shop to increase your stats. If you want to beat the later levels it's crucial you do this as otherwise you won't get much lift or hang time when jumping up a half-pipe. The competitions return where you have one minute to get the highest possible score; these are a great place to work on tricks and it's fun scouting around in an attempt to find the best area to suit your street skate or vert style. There's also a Park Editor which allows you create your own skating arenas. Once again, the music really shines and the variety of hip hop, rock and punk tracks really compliment the action.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 takes the template provided by the fantastic original and improves it with new features, more objectives, better controls and smoother gameplay. It's one of the greatest sports games ever released and I'd definitely recommend it as a starting point for people looking to get into the series.

Random trivia: The game was re-released in 2001 as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x for the original Xbox. Among the additions were LAN multiplayer and five new levels. 

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