Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 Hands-On

We've got a newer version of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 that features a complete skater list, more levels, the create-a-skater function, and a larger track editor. So how is the Hawk-man coming along?

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And you thought the demo was fun.... Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, while still a few months away from its September release, is shaping up very nicely. While the levels weren't really too appealing at first, after playing through levels like Philadelphia, School II, and New York for a few hours, we've really warmed up to the new level designs. The new levels are large, and most of them seem to contain at least one secret area. For instance, the Marseilles level that appeared in the demo, which is now the first competition level, has a hidden underground room that is accessible if you knock down a certain section of fence. In the demo, this hidden area merely contained a small area with some bonus-point items. Now, it contains a large hole that leads to an underground fountain. The School II level seems to be designed for the manual junkie, as it has lots of places to grind, but these places are too far apart to merely jump from one to the next. Some sections of the New York level are set up in a similar fashion.

The design concept for the Tony Hawk sequel is a real no-brainer - Neversoft is clearly shooting for the same style of game, only with bigger levels and more to do in each area. Each level now has numerous goals, like collecting items such as hall passes, liberty bells, or subway tokens, as well as several points-based goals and trick-based objectives, which include rooftop-to-rooftop jumps and the like. Each objective has a dollar value assigned to it, and the money you collect is used to purchase new decks and more attribute points for your skater. Your skater is rated in tons of different areas, such as landing (the lower this rating is, the harder it is to land huge jumps or falls), switch-skating, air, hang time, ollie, and two types of balance. The boards are also rated in multiple areas, such as hardness and speed.

The different skaters now have lots of different special tricks. Tony Hawk has a McTwist special as well as a special grind. Of course, the special tricks seem to jump from skater to skater as development progresses, so we'll have to wait for the final version to see exactly which special tricks end up with which skaters. Consider it a safe bet that Tony will still do the 900, though.

The version of the game that we have seems to need a bit of play balancing, as most of the goals are pretty tough to attain, yet the competition levels are extremely easy to win. Also, some of the original game's levels aren't in this version, like Mexico and Ventura. It's still unknown as to which, if any, of the original Tony Hawk levels will appear in the sequel, but it's something that Activision has hinted at in the past.

Overall, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 is shaping up rather nicely. Let's hope it continues on the same path as development continues.

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