Tony Hawk's Underground Impressions

Details are hard to come by, but Activision is showing brief snippets of the next Tony Hawk game.

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Activision hasn't made any official announcements about the next game in Neversoft's Tony Hawk series, but the company is showing a brief video showing off a few of the new game's features at E3.

For starters, Tony Hawk's Underground (THUG, for short) has an intensely expanded creation aspect to it, one that reaches far beyond simple shirt and hairstyle selection. You'll be able to download your own face textures and put them directly onto your skater's head. It's currently unknown if those textures come from the Internet or from an Eye Toy-like camera device. You'll also be able to create and name your own trick animations. The interface for this appears to use keyframing, and it looks a bit like the animation creation found in games like Fighter Maker.

In the "new gameplay feature" department, you'll be able to actually get off your skateboard. This means you can get running starts, jump, and hop on your board. You can also climb ladders and hang from ledges and wires. You can even make like Lara Croft and shimmy sideways while hanging. In another really crazy addition, you'll also be able to drive cars in the game. That was exhibited by showing a car following a skater off a ramp, launching itself toward a building. A handful of different urban locations were shown, but beyond seeing a nuclear power plant in the background of one section, it was difficult to pick out any specific locations. Time will pass in some fashion, meaning you should be able to skate spots during the day or at night.

Tony Hawk's Underground will also feature some sort of story mode. Again, there aren't many details available, but we did see an in-game model of Chad Muska making hand gestures and then driving away in a white SUV. It also showed your skater holding a screwdriver from a first-person perspective in what appeared to be a cutscene of some kind.

The create-a-park mode has been expanded quite a bit. You'll be able to create goals of your own, and it appears that you'll have a much larger area to work with. You'll also be able to place full-size buildings in your levels.

The entire video was set to a song from Jurassic 5's most recent album, but like almost everything else about THUG, details on the soundtrack are currently nonexistent. Likewise, no platform or availability details are available at this time, but given Activision's penchant for bringing its games to as many platforms as possible, we expect to see Tony Hawk's Underground on at least the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube.

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