Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 Review
By - Richard J.
In recent years, the Tony Hawk video games have seen a slow decline. Unfortunately, it seems like the games are getting worse each year. Last year's peripheral based Tony Hawk: Ride was no exception; being one of the worst reviewed games of the year. There was however, better days for the Tony Hawk series. One of the best of those good days was Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. This game took the great arcade action that made the first Tony Hawk Pro Skater such a success, and made it better in every possible way.
Back in 2000 when Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 was first released, one of its big draws was the amount of different professional skateboarders you were able to play as. In the iPhone version, all of the characters are still there for a total of 13, not including unlockables. The characters are:
- Tony Hawk
- Jamie Thomas
- Elissa Steamer
- Geoff Rowley
- Andrew Reynolds
- Chad Muska
- Rodney Mullen
- Bucky Lasek
- Eric Koston
- Rune Glifberg
- Kareem Campbell
- Steve Caballero
- Bob Burnquist
Thirteen characters will still a great roster for a mobile game and it really shows how well THPS2 stands the test of time. However if the developers had added a create-a-character feature for the iPhone release, it would have added a lot to the game.
There isn't any story in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, but what it lacks in story, it makes up in great gameplay. The main objective in the career mode of the game is to go from level-to-level, completing the set goals in each level in order to get enough cash to open up the next level. The goals have become staples of the Tony Hawk series. You have to get a certain number of points by doing tricks, collecting SKATE, grinding a special rail etc. The only exception to this is the few levels where you have to compete in a competition, opposed to completing goals. Those types of levels are well placed, as they break up the gameplay at perfect times to prevent it from getting boring.
THPS2 also includes a "Single Session" and "Free Skate " modes. The Single Session mode has you trying to get the highest score possible within 2 minutes. After each run, your score is placed in the highscores standings. The Free Skate mode is very similar to the Single Session mode, except it has no time limit or highscores.
All of these game modes are great, but I really would have like to seen an online aspect to the game. Whether its skating with others in real-time over wifi, or simply having leaderboards. The iPhone is a great online platform, and its a bit disappointing that the developers chose to ignore that.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 on the iPhone keeps the same great graphics as the PS1 and N64 original. It has full 3D environments and character models that shine on the iPhone. Playing on an iPod Touch 2G, I faced no frame rate slow-down during gameplay. Only when I got a "20% Battery Remaining Warning" did the frame rate slow down. There is minimal collision issues, and also some pop-in, but its fine if you keep in mind that it is a Ps1/N64 game.
The developers of the iPhone version of Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 decided to go with a virtual d-pad control option. I am usually not a fan of the virtual d-pad, but for this specific game, its done correctly. It feels just as smooth and intuitive as using physical d-pad and buttons. Sometimes while getting ready to hit a ramp my finger would slide off the "ollie" button and I'd jump to early, but other than that the virtual buttons are great. The developers also added the use of the accelerometer to control your skater. Its very easy to use as you just turn left or right to steer and up and down. This seems like a good idea on paper, but it doesn't really work when you try it. To me it seems like a gateway for those who are completely new to these types of games to steer easily. If you want to even attempt a highscore, I highly recommend you stick with the virtual d-pad and buttons.
Listening to the sound track to this game is like a trip back to the '90s. Its a mix of rock, punk, and hip-hop that is just oozing with '90s vibe. The soundtrack is quite catchy and is perfect for skateboarding. The only problem is that there are only about 5 songs that play over-and-over. After a while it can get annoying. I would have liked if the developers had added a feature for custom sound-tracks, or at least give you the ability to play your music in the background. The sound effects in the game are also quite good. I still squirm every time I hear my characters scream when he falls right on his head after a bad bail. The worst part about the sound effects is this terrible buzzing sound you get when you play without the music. Hopefully an update to the game in the future will remove the terrible, ear-splitting sound.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 is brimming with replay value. After you finish the career mode, you can still do the Single Session and Fee Skate modes to get higher scores. As I mentioned before, the game would have been much better with some form of online, and it would especially add to the already great replay value. With Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 being on the iPhone, much of its replay value is attributed to pulling it for 10 minutes to play while on the bus, and trying to beat your highscore. Portability really does this game justice.
If you enjoyed any other skateboarding game on the iPhone, you owe it to yourself to play this game. If you are a fan of any of the "good" Tony Hawk games, then you owe yourself to play this. There is really nothing wrong with the game, but it would have been nice if they had added such things as online modes and custom sound-tracks. For $9.99 and a ton of replay value, this game is well worth your money. After you're done reading this review, go to iTunes and take a trip to the "good 'ole days".
- Outstanding Gameplay
- Great Graphics
- Vast Amount of Characters
- Great Controls
- Nostalgic Sound-Track
- Multiple Gameplay Modes
- Online and Custom Sound-Tracks Would Have Been Nice
- Accelerometer Controls Are Bad
- Terrible Buzzing Sound When Sound-Track Isn't Playing