|Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 is incredible. Not only is it just a
blast to play, complex, detailed, and immense, but it's really hard. The way I see it,
there are two types of THPS2 players. The first group are skaters. They and their friends
skate all the time, spend their lives looking at their environment as if it were a level
in THPS2, and see THPS2 mainly as a distraction when it's too dark, too cold, too wet, or
otherwise not conducive to skating. The other group, the one I fit into, used to skate
and/or sucks at skating, but likes the sport and the game enough to enjoy it, sometimes
obsessively. These folks, especially if they're like me, watch some skating on ESPN2,
check out the occasional skate flick for old time's sake, and live vicariously through
their custom skater. We do not see the world as a skate park, although maybe we used to,
and we can use a little help.
Richie Plantain is there to give you that help. In the BradyGames THPS2 Official Strategy Guide, Plantain lists all the ins and outs of the game, and it can be extremely useful to newbies and gamers who are having a little trouble. And given the huge number of tasks to complete in THPS2, it's likely even the most seasoned THPS veteran will need a little help.
The guide runs down the basics of each skater and each mode, mostly reiterating the Activision manual and on-screen info, but also supplying a little more detail that might be appreciated by gamers who aren't familiar with the sport. The real useful sections cover each level fairly exhaustively. The level maps, complete with markings showing the locations of letters, money, special items, and gaps, are really helpful, regardless of THPS2 prowess. There are dozens of gaps on each level, and while the game gives you a list of gap names, the guide tells you exactly what you need to do to score each gap. Also, collecting money can be tough, and some of those dollars are in wacky places that are really tough to get to. With the emphasis that THPS2 puts on completing every little detail of the game, from collecting all of the money and goals to pulling off each gap with each skater, all the technical information Plantain packs in is really essential to fully beat the game.
In addition, Plantain runs down the gory details of making a custom skater and editing skateparks. His advice concerning both tasks is very solid, and, again, especially good for folks who may not have an intuitive sense of how to set up such things. For many THPS2 fans, Plantains advice will just reiterate what they already know. However, every THPS2 player will be interested in the list of Cheats and Secrets included at the back of the guide. There are lots of these, and unlocking each one is a fairly complex task. Unfortunately, the list is not entirely complete. There are some real cheats, not just those available in the menu when you beat the game, that can be found on the Internet, but not in the OSG. Still, the most interesting tidbits are covered well.
Overall, the guide was fairly helpful in completing the game, and would be more helpful for somebody who hasn't spent hundreds of hours playing THPS like I have. There are some bits of strategy that I don't really agree with. For example, I have never been able to reach the Balcony on the Philly level using either of the two methods in the guide, but I have reached it by grinding up and then back down the rail that lines up with the World's Most Obvious Gap. I also wished Plantain had included more detailed instructions on some other tasks. If you're having a tough time beating THPS2, this is just the thing to pick up. I have browsed through Internet walkthroughs, and they are not as helpful as the OSG. The screenshots and (mostly) more detailed explanations are really necessary to give an accurate description of how to complete a game like this. And the list of extras is invaluable, though not noticeably better than what you can find on most codes sites.