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by Activision

Screenshot-01.jpg (5207 bytes)Let me address a little bitterness I feel deep inside. I’m really bummed that Xbox owners don’t get THPS3 when it is out for PS2 and Gamecube already. But there’s nothing that can be done about that – Xbox owners must wait until March 2002 to play. That bitterness seems to creep its way into reviews that have already come out for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2x. Most folks have given it the old "nothing new here" and mediocre rating – the game has an average score of 80% at Game Rankings. I realize that I’m aiming above the curve with my rating, but I just can’t help it. Know this now – I love the THPS series, and THPS2x is no exception.

sim-tonyhawksproskater2x-05.jpg (8206 bytes)Primarily, this game is a seriously cleaned up version of THPS2. And when I say seriously, I mean it. The graphics are completely redone. Ramps and pools have vibrant textures, and the graffiti has never looked so good. The grass stands up, each individual blade, and calls to you, "Notice me!" Lighting effects and character models are incredible. You can now see entire skylines and far into the distance. And lest you think all this graphical improvement is negligable, let me underscore the fact that the amazing clarity of the visuals really helps you play the game. It is easier to see your landings as well as identify potential lines.

sim-tonyhawksproskater2x-04.jpg (6348 bytes)All 13 skaters from THPS2 are present, as are all eight courses. The level goals are the same, and the levels themselves are virtually unchanged. In some areas, such as at the top of the hangar, details have been added. The stats system is the same, and you still progress from level to level by earning cash. For a more detailed explanation of this part of the game, I’ll refer you to my review of THPS2 for the PS1.

sim-tonyhawksproskater2x-03.jpg (6890 bytes)If this game were just a revised version of THPS2, it would still be a great game. THPS2 is a great game. I have a hard time fathoming the trouble some gamers have with titles coming out across platforms and in revised versions. Do we want games to become like movies where opening weekend is the determining factor, and movies that don’t succeed instantly are shuttled off into video obscurity? I don’t. I have no problem with games being re-released on multiple platforms, although I do look for a little more in a port. Happily, Neversoft and Activision have made good decisions about who should port THPS titles to other consoles. Treyarch stepped up on THPS2x, and they really succeed. It is obvious that Treyarch loves the THPS series like so many of us do, and rather than a simple port of THPS2, they have given us the only next-gen archive of the entire THPS sequence.

sim-tonyhawksproskater2x-02.jpg (6898 bytes)After completing the THPS2 career with a skater, you move on to the THPS2x career mode. This is a sequence of three levels, a night club, construction site, and the Tampa, Florida skatepark. These levels are not as large as a standard THPS level, but they are still well-done. You must complete goals to progress through the levels. The high score and S-K-A-T-E goals are standard, and there are also level-specific goals such as collecting five "digits" in the night club. The skatepark in Tampa is a contest, and is a classic THPS skatepark – lots of great terrain and amazing lines to explore. The Tampa skatepark is undoubtedly the best of the THPS2x levels, and once you medal in that you get another great treat – the original THPS.

sim-tonyhawksproskater2x-01.jpg (5681 bytes)There are levels in THPS1, such as the School, Burnside, and Chicago skateparks that can’t be topped. These levels have been polished up and made beautiful (check out the animated textures on Roswell), but the best part about the THPS1 levels is playing them with the manual trick. For fans of the THPS series, the manual has been an incredible improvement. The original eight levels of THPS1 come alive all over again when you throw the manual into the mix. Playing with the increased scoring of THPS2 also makes it easy to clear out these levels. You must collect tapes to progress, just as in the original game. It won’t take you long to clear out these levels if you’ve played the game before because everything is just as you remember it. Again, for those of you new to the series, I recommend you check out my review of THPS for any of a number of systems. After completing the original game, you are rewarded with a New York Subway level that is pretty marginal.

sim-tonyhawksproskater2x-07.jpg (8574 bytes)As usual, there are a variety of special characters to unlock by completing each of the different modes entirely. There is also a Create-a-Skater function that lies somewhere between the character creation in THPS2 and THPS3. You can create female skaters, which is a notable improvement, but otherwise it is about the same. The Park Editor is similarly the same as in THPS2, with some minor improvements. You can play up to four players in multiplayer, which is new to THPS, and up to eight players by linking Xbox systems.

sim-tonyhawksproskater2x-06.jpg (8852 bytes)I look at the bright side of THPS2x, mainly because it’s so obvious. This Xbox thing is going to be around for awhile, and THPS2x is the only next-gen archive of the series so far. The THPS games are actually good enough to go back to, and fans of the series don’t want to be without this version of the courses. Add to it online multiplayer available right now by using GameSpy's new Arcade and Tunnel programs, and you've got something to get excited about. If you’ve never played the THPS games before, then THPS2x is an incredible value. And if you think the THPS titles are just OK, then don’t bother; the third is on its way.

Shawn Rider   (11/29/2001)


Ups: Much improved graphics; system link and online multiplayer; all levels from THPS2 and THPS1 plus four exclusive levels; improved create-a-skater; only next-gen archive of THPS games.

Downs: No THPS3 on Xbox until Spring 2002.

Platform: Xbox