PlayStation 2


Tony Hawk?s Underground Published by: Activision Developed by: Neversoft For: Gamecube, PS2, Xbox, and GBA Version reviewed: Gamecube ESRB Rating: T for Blood, Mild Violence, Strong Language, and Suggestive Themes

Tony Hawk?s Pro Skater had a reputation of excellence. It defied all logic, it showed up the naysayers, it even showed that, yes, new games could be made that had excellent control and believable physics, while having mind-blowing stunts that, somehow, defied physics in a realistic world and realistic locations. Tony Hawk?s Underground (T.H.U.G.) threw that out the window. It took away all of the stuff that made the original games so compelling, while melding it in a sort of blend that made for an even better game. And then Neversoft did something completely unexpected: they added a story. By taking the combined stories of different pro skaters, and then combining them into something completely unique, Neversoft managed the unimaginable; they created a pretty believable story, and then, somehow, threw the pros away. Neversoft, why would you do that? I?m here to tell you it works.


Amazing. Absolutely amazing. While the actual character models look pretty mediocre up close, the cut-scene graphics are great, and the locations are awesome. Combine that with some excellent character models from a distance, and you get some of the best graphics in an extreme sports video game yet, managing, simultaneously, mind you, to have the same great effects from previous incarnations, with new and better animations, crashes, and movements. Heck, you can even take your skater off his deck for a time, and then use that as a trick. Pretty cool.

Game play

The meat of THUG comes into play here. Levels don?t have the same amount of goals as in THPS4, because, plain and simply, levels have a story to follow, and while some of those goals have no relation to the story, it seems that they just lead up to a conclusion that sort of is like the grand finale for the level, and it progresses the story to the next ?chapter,? which is how the different segments of THUG are presented. As always, the game wouldn?t be the same without it?s excellent goals, which are always inventive, or just plain different. One goal finds you showing off to skaters who might buy Vans shoes in order to get a sponsorship from Vans, while another has you gapping between rooftops while pulling a McTwist over a helicopter. Pretty insane stuff. All of this is linked into an intelligent and cohesive story, so as to make you want to proceed with the game, and find out what happens next to your skater. Above I mentioned that there are no pros in this game. Not completely true. See, you don?t actually play as a pro?you play as yourself, which is gratifying, in an odd sort of way. After creating your skater, you quickly rise to the top ranks of pros, first impressing L.A.-based Chad Muska, and then moving up to pro sponsor Stacy Peralta, who sponsored Tony Hawk when he was a young skater in the 1980s. Soon, Tony Hawk notices you, you even win a comp, and then its all uphill, and downhill, from there. All the while, you will be competing with your former buddy Eric Sparrow, whose grating voice, which is quite obviously a put-on New Jersey accent, gets on the nerves very, very quickly. All of this builds up to a greatly crafted game, one that defies what the expectations of those who might doubt that this series is ever going anywhere besides just a romp through different locations to achieve a false sense of pro stardom.


The sounds in THUG are some of the best for a game of this caliber. Footsteps echo, or tap, on different surfaces, voices are well done and expertly voiced, even those of the pros?perhaps with the exception of Bam Margera, who doesn?t seem to be very confident with his role in Tony?s series just yet, an oddity, since other, newer additions to the roster of THUG, such as Paul Rodriguez, or Mike Vallely, all voice their characters well and convincingly. Music is, once again, very well done, with the exception of a few odd choices for an in-game soundtrack. Who, in their right mind, will want to listen to KISS while skating? Not I. But that?s really okay, because there are three genres to choose from: Rock/Other, Punk, and Hip-Hop. From this list, you can then pick and choose what the music in the game is, whether or not you actually want to have Hip-Hop and rap in your game, and whether or not Bad Religion or Good Charlotte are your thing. Other than that, the game?s sound is pretty good, and it is worth playing to listen to the good sounds that Activision has managed to pull out of its hat this time.


As always, the Tony Hawk games have great controls. Refer to my THPS3 and THPS4 reviews for more detail.


The main problem with this game is the language, with there is a modest amount of. It really doesn?t surpass Aggressive Inline, but it is still offensive. The Lord?s Name is not used, so that, of course, isn?t a problem. In the first level, New Jersey, there are drug dealers on the corners, and they try and kidnap your friend, Eric Sparrow, as well as taking some poor schmuck?s board and throwing pieces of it across rooftops. In a later level, Tampa, in which your first real contest takes place, there is a private investigator. He wants you to grind a cheating couples? car five times. The car is rocking, and whenever you grind it, a woman?s voice groans. Not exactly?subtle. Then he wants you to do a kickflip over two quarter pipes built into the walls of a strip club. You can even get into the club via the roof, where there?s a bowl that is good for tricks, and has a stripper in the middle, dancing around a pole. They don?t show anything, all it is is girls in black bikinis dancing around poles. But still. This is not a game that you?d let a little kid play. There are also a couple of instances of avoiding the local authorities to access new areas, or even bribing them. Once, you do a McTwist over an insane gap?with a police helicopter hovering below you. Generally, you get the idea that cops are not meant to be liked in THUG. This is a game that, while much less appropriate than, say THPS3 or 4, is still a quality skating title. It follows a young man?s rise to the top, and the struggles he has to go through to get there. Almost all of the goals are completely optional, so the who P.I. thing doesn?t need to be done to move on. I would recommend this game to anyone who really does like the THPS series?it is the natural evolution for a series that had almost run its due course, and now may have new life because of a story. It is a game full of innovation and fun, yet the bad cannot be avoided. Weigh the pros and cons carefully before committing to this game. Better yet, rent it. That?s what rentals are for, you know.

Final Ratings

Graphics A- Gameplay A+ Sound A Control A Appropriateness D

Overall 85%

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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