Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2X
Tony Hawk’s first appearance on the Xbox is in the game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2X (Henceforth referred to as Tony Hawk 2X). The game is a compilation of the first two games that appeared on many other systems, including the PlayStation 1 and the Sega Dreamcast. This version also features enhanced graphics, sound and bonus levels specific to the Xbox. But does that necessarily mean that it is the best version?
The gameplay in Tony Hawk 2X is great. It’s all about choosing your skater and leading that skater through over 20 courses of different varieties. The courses each have a different set of parameters to complete the goals. Most have objectives along the lines of ”get the highest score.” There are 10 objectives in the Tony Hawk 2 levels, and 5 in the bonus and Tony Hawk 1 levels. In each level you are given just 2:00 to complete your task before you have to restart it.
Besides getting the high score, you have to grind specific objects, do a certain trick between gaps, and collect the letters ”S-K-A-T-E” and various other challenges. The tasks for the most part aren’t too hard, but they actually do require you to think. You may get stuck on one, as I did a few times, and you have to just skate around and look for the fastest ways to get things. In one level, I could not get to the ”E” in skate, so I skated around to it first and found a ramp that I had been missing. With the remaining time, I practiced getting up to the ramp, and then when the level ended, restarted and got the letters and completed the goal. The game is simple for the most part, but it does have some challenges.
As you progress through the levels, you earn cash that you then use to make upgrades on your skater. You can purchase new decks for the board itself, and you can also purchase new tricks and special moves that you can do. The most important purchase is your statistic upgrades, which includes making your skater faster and be able to jump higher. As you progress through Tony Hawk 2, your career cash also determines which levels you can skate.
The trick system is incredibly easy to use. You can grind pretty much any rail, ledge or curb. You can do massive grab tricks off any ramps in the game, and you can make those grabs and grinds count for more points by using kick flips and such. It may sound a bit confusing at first, but it really isn’t. Once you grab hold of the controller and start playing, it’s very understandable.
The Xbox controller is considered obnoxious and unwieldy. I personally didn’t have any problems with the controller, and I haven’t even had my system for that long. The button configuration is easily understandable, as you can perform complex tricks with very little controller movement. The best part about the controls is that they are so easily manipulated that you can chain together 18 to 19 trick combinations in just a few hours of play. If you don’t like the Xbox controller or you are unfamiliar with it, this is a great game to have as it forces you to quickly know the setup of the controller.
The game also has some slick multiplayer. Provided you have a couple of friends who own the Xbox, each having a TV they can bring and a router/system link cable, you can play 4 players on 4 different televisions and impress your friends with your mad skills. Or you can make a fool of yourself. I personally enjoyed all of the multiplayer challenges in the game. You can also play split-screen, but after system link play, I can never go back to that.
H-O-R-S-E is one of the best multiplayer challenges in the game. You choose a level and a word, and then one person goes and does a trick. The next person goes, and tries to score higher. If they do score higher than you, then the next person has to score better than them. If they can’t top the trick, then they get a letter. The first person to complete the word loses and on goes the game. The last person standing wins. I find it very funny in an immature way when the screen says something like ”Player 1: You suck!”
Tag is another I particularly enjoyed as well. It’s a basic rendition of what we all played as kids (you know, when you went outside to play games). I particularly enjoyed the violent aspect of knocking someone on the ground and watching them squirt blood everywhere. It’s enjoyable in a sadistic way. The coolest thing I ever saw in the game is when one of my friends was grinding on a half pipe, and I went to tag him, did a trick, and sailed right over him in the opposite direction he was going. It looked choreographed but it really wasn’t.
Trick attack is the most basic multiplayer mode; you simply compete for high score. I liked this mode, but it tended that one person was simply a better player than everyone else and the results were lopsided, even with the ”handicap” feature turned on for less than skilled players. And lastly there is ”Free Skate” in which you simply wander around levels with your friends. It’s not a bad thing at all to say the least, but a little boring after a while.
”Free Skate” also extends into the single player mode, and is very valuable in that you can use it to practice tricks and to find special ”gaps” that increase your points. If you are stuck trying to get the points to complete a level, you should go into ”Free Skate” and look for the gaps that will multiply your score. With the gaps, you’ll get the highest points possible.
I have only one gripe. When doing a trick on a half-pipe, I frequently flew off the edge. Sometimes I was able to balance myself and land upright on the ground; sadly most of the time I could not land the trick properly. I used to just ignore this problem, and then I played Aggressive Inline. They had a button that you pushed in that case that would assist you in landing. I loved it because even though it hurt the score of the move, you still landed and got credit. It’s a minor complaint, but it’s a feature that should be implemented into future versions of the game.
A smaller, separate complaint is that some of the bonus levels feel a bit rushed. The “construction level is awkwardly set up, and the “Dance” level design doesn’t really do much for the gameplay. I think that they may have rushed those levels a little and didn’t spend enough time testing them. They are by no means bad, but they just don’t have that same polished feeling that the other levels in the game have.
The graphics are all Xbox enhanced, but they certainly don’t take full advantage of the systems overwhelming graphical capabilities. The graphics are by no means bad or anything. The graphics are much more advanced than the primitive graphics of the PlayStation 1 versions of Tony Hawk 1 and 2 and the character models look much better than they did, even in the Dreamcast version.
One thing I liked was the distance drawing. It is much better than in previous ports of the game, even on the Dreamcast. The San Francisco level always annoyed me because of all the fog, I found it difficult to see what I was trying to find, and all because of a lack of good distance drawing. Well, the Xbox can do much better distance drawing, and the fog has been lifted and everything is fully visible, as it should be.
The skater models rock. The faces are detailed, as are the limb motions while skating. The animations are a bit lacking, if you continue to do the same grind, you will notice that the skater continues the same wobbly motion through the entire grind. The tricks all look great, the skaters all grab the board as they should, if you’ve ever watched skateboarders do tricks, you can see that they are essentially the same.
A few nagging problems persist however. You often can’t see objects that are above you, and if you are in a low place and you do a trick, you will hit the ceiling or go flying in odd directions. This problem persists more on the ”Construction” level (a bonus level). The camera also sometimes tends to tweak out and not follow the action, though this happens more in the ”Construction” level as well.
The sound is spectacular in Tony Hawk. The in game sound track is a mix of fifteen hard rock, punk, and even a few rap songs. The thing I liked a lot was that I could play my own soundtracks in the game. That has to be one of my favorite features with the Xbox itself. None of the soundtracks seemed to have any problems running, and there was no slowdown or anything like that from the loading of a new song. It’s really nice not to be stuck with the same 15 songs through 24 levels. The only thing I disliked was that when you kept retrying the same level, the song playing repeats, and you actually have to physically change the track or hear the same one all over again.
The sound effects themselves are pretty decent. The board makes different sounds as it rides along different terrain and such. The board also makes a ”slap” sound when you jump over and object or off something. The boarders themselves also make strange noises when they fall 50 feet or crash into stuff.
With the game, you’re getting more than 20 levels of gaming goodness, oodles of skaters and options on upgrading their skills. You can even create your own skater and lead them through their career, and then you will be able to unlock a secret hidden skater! Oh yeah, and did I mention that your progress unlocks cheats like wire frame mode and moon physics? Good gosh! Seriously though, the game has tons of options to explore and it’s probably got the best replay value of any game I have ever owned.
You also get a built in park editor which allows you to build your own custom skate parks that you can skate on and use in multiplayer. The editor is essentially a simplified version of the editor that the creators used, and you can create some pretty interesting parks with it. I never really got creative enough with it, but I have seen the works of some of my friends and their parks rock. I wish I were good at that stuff.
You must be crazy if you don’t buy this game. The game is cheap, cheaper than most games with such large amounts of content. The multiplayer is great, the editor adds so much to the replay value, and even the worst levels are still awesome to skate on. I recommend that anyone who does decide to try out Tony Hawk for the first time to buy this game, as it is the best version available. And for those who have played it, I still recommend it, the bonus levels are well worth the trip through the older ones. Overwhelming amounts of gameplay goodness, killer soundtrack, great multiplayer features…oh I’m drooling…I think I’m going to go play Tony Hawk 2X.