Game Review - by James Allen
Whenever there is a successful game on the PC, it is usually ported to several consoles (see Unreal Tournament), or a popular console game is adapted to the PC (see Metal Gear Solid). In the case of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, the PlayStation 1 version of the game was converted to PC. Ideally, the game would use the capabilities of the PC to enhance the graphics, gameplay, and other aspects of the game. Will one of the most successful PlayStation games ever be able to compete with the PC et?
If you're not familiar with Tony Hawk 1, as PC gamers shouldn't be, the premise is that you skate around several levels, performing insane tricks to gain points and get cash. The depth at which Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 portrays skateboarding is unparallel on any other "extreme" game and some normal sporting titles as well.
There are several modes of play to encounter in Tony Hawk 2. Single Sessions give you two minutes to sharpen your skills in a level, and try to get that high score. Free Skates give you an unlimited amount of time to practice, but your score does not accumulate, or is it eligible for a high score. The Career mode is the main beef of the game, where you control one of 13 professional skaters, or a custom skater of your liking. After completing several goals in a level, the next level is opened, with harder goals and bigger cash rewards. The cash can be used to purchase better decks (skateboards), add more tricks to your repertoire, and give your skater better stats to pull over those bigger tricks with more ease. There is well over 100 tricks you can perform, and some of which are specific to certain skaters: the 900 is only Tony Hawk's trick, for instance. With all of these variations and options, the single player modes are enjoyable.
To enhance the game even further, and park editor is included, so you can make the skating facility of your dreams. The placement of almost anything included in the single player levels is available in the editor. There are limitations, though. Because this is a direct port from the PlayStation, we PC users are limited by the PSX memory card. Our parks can only be a certain size, and can only contain a limited number of objects. Since parks in Tony Hawk 2 take up less than 10 KB, I can see why the limitation was put on: it would strain our 20 GB hard drives. They can make the minimum install 300 MB, but can't let us make parks larger than 10 KB? This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The least they can do is have an open-ended limit to park construction on the PC.
A staple of any game published since Quake is multiplayer. On the PlayStation, multiplayer is accommodated with two players on a split screen. With the availability of the Internet, multiplayer for Tony Hawk 2 could involve 20 player grind sessions, and experience that could be unparalleled. Sadly, this is not the case. The only Internet multiplayer is over a LAN, and only between two players! You also cannot manually enter an IP address to play. For the 99% of people who are not on a LAN, the only other multiplayer game is HORSE, with two players using the same controller on the same computer. You can't even have two players on the same computer skating at the same time. With these limitations, multiplayer is not an aspect of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 that many people will experience.
The sound in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 is amazing. The skateboarding sounds are exact: grinds are accurate, and the sound changes while moving across different surfaces. The bone-crushing sound of an aerial gone wrong makes you wince. In addition to the superb environment sound, a top-notch soundtrack blares while you rip off that varial kickflip. Rage Against the Machine (RIP), Millencolin, Lagwagon, Powerman 5000, and some hip-hop bands I've only vaguely heard of highlight a diverse music selection, a departure from the all punk offering in Tony Hawk 1: whether that is a good thing is up to you (not for me). The sound in Tony Hawk 2 is one of the high highlights in the game.
The gameplay in Tony Hawk 2 is insanely fun. A simple control method permits the furious combination of several tricks while in the air, a feat that is physically impossible by real-life skaters, but is still fun as anything. There are three main keys to high scores in Tony Hawk 2. You can perform tricks over or through certain areas and receive bonus points, as well as receive credit for performing an additional trick. For each trick you perform, your total score for the session is multiplied; so stringing four tricks together will earn you more points than performing each trick individually. Add into this manuals. Manuals are wheelies on the skateboard, and you can transition from a grind to a manual to another trick, so you can effectively make a full two-minute run of one large trick would receive an unbelievable amount of points. Perfecting the controls is key in scoring big points and unlocking the next level. The gameplay is impressively fun and enjoyable, and is easily the best aspect of the game. No worrying about poor porting of the gameplay!
The graphics are better than those on the PlayStation, but slightly smoothed out versions of Quake graphics. The player models are blocky, and certainly not on par with many PC games published today (see NHL 2001). Although the environments are immersing, a concentration on more lifelike graphics could help. Fortunately, the representation of skating in graphical form is top notch. The transition between different moves is smooth, and lifelike, assuming that Tony Hawk could rattle off five tricks while in the air. Although the graphics are obviously just 3D accelerated PlayStation models, you'll get used to the "ancient" PC graphics.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 is an incredible game…for the PlayStation. The PC version is only a port of the PlayStation game, and nothing more. The addition of features to take advantage of the PC is limited at best, and the game really could have been special with the addition of PC-like graphics, enhanced (existent?) multiplayer, and the ability to create larger and more complex parks. Trust me, Tony Hawk 2 should not be missed, but it is not the PC game that everyone wanted it to be.