Page Contents Tony Hawk's Underground

Tony Hawk's Underground

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This is the latest installment in Tony Hawk's line of skateboarding simulators from Activision. I played the GameCube version to see just what we're getting with this game that we didn't with the last one. ;-) Well just about everything you could think of has been added to or improved. Create your own tricks with the intuitive timeline editor, previewing all the way. Create and customise your own skatepark too.

The skater creation part is a lot more flexible, and while it will undoubtedly be improved in the next game, this allows for a much wider variety of characters to model. As well as the normal looks, there are a few bizarre novelty items that you can use to create some skateboarding freaks. ;-) Change the face, the hair, the upper body clothes, the lower body clothes, the shoes, etc., then add accessories. Customise to perfection! Well not quite, but it's a lot better than we've ever had before from a Tony Hawk skateboarding simulator.

New game features include pedestrianism - at any time you can now get off your skateboard and walk, run or climb to new places. And for single players, you now have a storyline mode! This sees you start off as an ordinary guy who just skateboards around your local neighbourhood, and you can carry on just like that if you want. But hey, storylines are there for a reason! Talk to other people (clearly marked) to get them to teach you new tricks, or other people who will give you tasks to perform, usually involving your skating skills. Sounds familiar maybe, but now you can actually progress by doing them - I'm not going to give away any of the story (play it yourself!), but imagine GTA3 with skateboarding instead of shooting.

The gameplay itself has also been diversified. Play storyline mode properly and you won't just be skateboarding - you will drive cars around the roads and retrieve objects stealthily on foot. All this will open up new areas with new people and new missions. Skate around Manhattan with cars driving around the roads and ordinary people walking the streets. Characters you will meet include Bam Margera (from Jackass), Tony Hawk himself, and of course, you, via the create-a-skater feature!

Two player mode is fun too, and features your choice of horizontal or vertical split screen. All the old favourite game modes are there, and also the FireFight game mode, which sees you shooting your opponent with fireballs from your skateboard! A little far-fetched perhaps, but hey, it is a game after all. The challenge of playing against other people is great motivation to practice and hone your skills until you are really good and getting some really good scores.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5

If you liked the previous Tony Hawk games, you will love this - it's better than any of them. Arguably it's not terribly original for the price - if you have TH3 (better than TH4 IMO) then the pricetag on this might be a tad expensive for the upgraded features. But you will still want to see this if you're a boarding sim fan.