This is it! Click now to find out why THPS 2 is the best game in the series, and why you should not even read this review and just play it already!
Played on: Playstation, Xbox
Also on: N64, Dreamcast, PC, GBA, GBC, iOS
Four words- LIGHTS OUT, GUERRILLA RADIO!
Date posted: February 2, 2018
It had to start somewhere. It had to start sometime. What better place then here? What better time then now?
Following the success of the first THPS, a sequel was inevitable- only one year after it’s release, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 would be in the grasp of hungry gamers, who were already begging for more by the time it came out. But did they now that they were in the presence of yet another masterpiece?
THPS 2 improves pretty much everything, somehow. In fact, the Tony Hawk series is a rare anomaly, as it was a series that just kept getting better and better… until another skateboarding game and finally dethroned it (see my Proving Ground review later this week to find out the tragic ending of the THPS franchise) It’s amazing really- most people just wanted some new levels, new skaters and what not. I don’t think they expected a game of this magnitude! Hell, I’m just going to dive head first in it!
Out in the old, in with the new!
All of the movement that made the first game is back, but now refined to a degree- it somehow controls even better then before! The biggest addition to the Tony Hawk mythos is the addition of the manual, which made busting out combos a bit easier, and at the same time insane- which meant that, once again, your required to get a whole lot of points if you want to get anywhere. This gave the game more challenge then before, but made also made the game easy to pick up and play, but difficult to master, but once you did, it stayed with you- almost like learning to ride a bike. You never forget!
The career mode is back, and bigger and badder then ever! You still have two minutes to do your usual things- collect SKATE letters, find the secret tape, etc. There are still high score challenges, with one added- the Sick score- something that would become a staple of the THPS franchise. Sick from this game forward usually meant “F@#king hard”- when starting out, you’ll know why! Other goals are extremely varied now- you now have object based goals, where you have to find certain gaps, and there’s all around more interaction with the environment then the last game. An improvement overall!
You still have compositions, and yes, they can get hard! That brings me to another point- the levels actually get a bit difficult as you progress! Yes, you have “score inflation”, where you need more and more points each passing level, but each passing level itself seems to get more and more tricky. Skatestreet, for example, is mostly made up of pipes, verts and such- meaning you can’t grind your way out of this one! The game really challenges you to use all of your skills to your fullest potential!
I want to talk about the levels, and how fantastic the variety is here! You start off in a military hangar in Texas, but soon find yourself in locations all over the world. You got a new school level, that actually somewhat resembles a school! You then go to France, which has a cool skatepark set against a nice sunset. Yes, you have big open-ended city levels- New York, and Philly- both well designed levels! My favorite overall has to be Venice beach- theres just something about it that feels like home… It all ends in an epic showdown at a Mexican bullring. No, I’m not kidding! Ole!
You also got some new modes and features that would become THPS standards, like a character creator, and a park editor. The latter adds so much replayability to the game it’s not even funny- while the park editor got better and better as games went on, you’d be surprise how much you can do with THPS2’s admittedly humble editor. So many hours spent making crazy mazes with pungee pits….
Finally, I must talk about the best thing about this game, thus far. All the unlockable s@#t! Not only is the game a blast to play, but every time you beat the game with a skater, or even 100% the game, you always get something! Not only is there a small library of videos to unlock, but there’s even secret levels! You can even unlock cheat codes- cheat codes being one of the main things missing from video games today…The one thing I absolutely have to mention is the unlockable characters. You got officer Dick, and that one lady, but you also have mother f@#king spiderman. That’s right- you can unlock Spiderman- that Spiderman. I feel like I don’t have to say anything.
I can’t believe I almost failed to mention the soundtrack! To me, this is it- the most recognizable STs in video game history. I think I know the words to every single song in the game, and even find my self singing along. Every time “You” by Bad Religion comes on I can’t help myself- I sing it, without fail. It’s almost magical really- the soundtrack is perfect, and represents the game perfectly. It really is perfection!
Just listen! (songs are uncensored, just to let you know)
I mean, f@#k- I had to resist to pop the game in while listening this. It’s just that good!
Like I mentioned in my THPS1 review, the levels can feel a bit barren. Thankfully, its not bad as the first outing- there seems to be a lot going on in the levels now- a few examples being a helicopter flying off in Hangar, some asshole riding around in a golfcart in School II, etc. Still, it’s still a bit noticeable, especially in levels like Philly. The levels are still ghost towns….
One thing I forgot to mention is the physics- sometimes they can be a bit wonky- multiple times, you’ll swear your safe to land a trick, only for you to bail. To be fair, this is a problem that actually persists throughout the entire series. I guess no one knew how to fix it. Not a big deal, but it is noticeable.
I know this is going to be a weird criticism, but I never liked the “Find all the gaps to unlock a secret character”, as some of the gaps are just ridiculous. I can go into details, but I think the fact that I had to look up a FAQ to find all of them enough proof that of it’s annoyance. Just a personal preference, really.
As expected, THPS 2 had a lot of ports! Let me try to explain what I think is the best versions- Warning: my choices my surprise you!
As per usual- the first version was on the PS1. This is the version I am most familiar with, and the version a lot of people played. Like THPS 1, this version is solid.
Finally, THPS lands on the PC! Not sure if this version is bad, but it does come with 3 extra levels from THPS1, so that’s a nice bonus!
The game is also on the Dreamcast. Do I have to say anything? It seems that everything ported to the DC was pretty much f@#king perfect, and THPS2 is no exception. How did they keep doing it?
Once again, the game was ported to the N64- and it’s actually a better port job then last time…. even though it came out a month before the Xbox. Yep, the N64 was at death’s door when this came out. Once again, hardly no load times, but no FMV’s, and only 6 of the 15 songs! Not too bad, but the N64 was clearly not up to snuff, sadly. An extra level helps, but not too much…
A special shout out to the GBA version, which actually plays better then it looks. I think I might give this version it’s own review in the future.
There was also a version for iOS devices, but its been delisted, and sounded butchered- a lot of cut content like levels and the soundtrack. Yeah, probably best to find a PS1 emulator for you mobile device….
Finally, I have to talk about the Xbox version, called 2X. Not only does this version boast improved visuals, the soundtrack intact, and all of the content, it also has some great features, like 5 new levels, and, wait for it- the entirety of THPS1’s campaign. That’s right- every single level and goal from the first THPS is featured as a nice unlockable bonus! I know people will disagree with me, but I think 2X might be the best version of both THPS AND THPS2. There- I said it! Sue me! It just sucks that this version was stuck on the OG Xbox….
Here’s a rollcall!
Clear Winner(s): Xbox, Dreamcast
Alright: PC, N64, GBA
I have nothing further to say. THPS 2 improved on the formula greatly, and is one those games that I play at least once every year, and have yet to have a bad time playing it. It is truly the pinnacle of extreme sports/ skateboarding games, and I don’t see this juggernaut being taken down anytime soon! Pin the tail on the donkey. (DUH DEH DEH DUH DEH DEH DUH DUH DEH!)
Agree? Disagree? Good! Leave a comment about how terrible my taste is in the comments below!