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Last weekend I bought Tony Hawk’s Underground [reviews | screenshots ] for my PS2. It’s the 5th game in the series. This one is slightly different. New this time is “story mode” because you start out as an aspiring pro and work your way up the ladder earning sponsorships. There’s also some new stuff where you can get off your board and walk around (kinda cool to combine with tricks), climb up buildings, etc. And you can drive a car at some points. They should have just left this out. If you’re going to put in cars, do it right. After playing a game like Grand Theft Auto for hours, you’d expect a car game to have some features. This was the worst I’ve ever seen car driving…it’s like they took a step back 10 years and pulled the code out of Super Mario Cart, but worse. A big box with wheels and handles about the same. This doesn’t distract from the game too much though.
One really cool feature is new to creating a skater. You can put your own face on the character. You take a photo of yourself, email it in and then with network access for your PS2, you can download your face and map it onto your character. Not great results, but a great concept. Look for this in other games in the future.
The Tony Hawk franchise is really pushing things forward in the online gaming community. Now you can upload moves, characters, skateparks to a central server and download other peoples creations. Before, after finishing the game you’d get tired of skating the same locations over and over. You could make your own parks, but who had the time? Young kids, that’s who? Now you can take advantage of their excessive free time and download their creations. I haven’t played too much with the online stuff yet…I’d rather stick to finishing the game first.