Stop wasting my time and go buy this game.
Having already reviewed this game for the PSX, as well as having played and raved extensively about the original Tony Hawk for the PSX, N64 and Dreamcast, I have to admit that I'm running out of things to say about it. Simply put, I grow weary. And if you're getting a little weary having to read review after review of this game, let me state right here, for the record, that Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 for the Dreamcast is a terrific game. It's a must-have. It rocks. Go buy it.
What? You're still here? I told you to go buy it! Click on that 'Shop' button and spend some goddamn money! Ugh... still need convincing? Fine. But it's really just a waste of our time...and since this game is identical to its PSX brother, most of this review is the same as well. Welcome to cop out city!
Tony Hawk's name carries a lot of weight, and this is apparent by the A-list of pro skaters who lend their likeness to the game. You can skate as the Birdman himself or one of 12 other pros, ranging from old-school Bones Brigade legends like Steve Caballero to upstarts like Andrew Reynolds.
You'll find all the same gameplay modes in the Dreamcast version as the PSX version - Free Skate, Single Session, and an all-new Career mode round out the single player hijinks. This time around, Career mode allows you to earn money by completing level objectives, which is then used to buy better gear, new moves, or to increase your skater's various skills. This is a great addition and gives the game more depth.
THPS 2 has 8 enormous levels, each easily double the size of the levels in the original. You'll grind subway rails in New York, go ramp crazy at Ventura Beach, tear up liberty bells in Philly, and even test the patience of a bull in Mexico. And where the first game only had 5 objectives per level, this one has 10...and some are REALLY hard. Scoring over 200,000 points in one run is not easily accomplished by beginners. Trust me on this.
The environments are also chock full of objects, and nearly every surface can be skated and tricked off. You'll even find secret areas that are only accessed by accomplishing certain unnamed tasks, giving each level its own replay value.
The original introduced a control scheme that has been imitated by just about every extreme game since (Grind Session and Dave Mirra BMX, to name a few). Thankfully, they haven't really changed anything, aside from adding on some new moves. Perhaps the most useful is the manual, which you can use in between grinds and jumps to link up some insane combos. This can lead to level scores way up in the millions.
The excellent control is really what pushes this game from great to fantastic. Skating around the immense levels while linking up chains of moves really captures the essence and flow of real skating. Sure, it's over-the-top, but that's part of what makes it so fun. This is simply one of the best game engines ever built, and the Neversoft guys deserve yet another round of drinks.
The amazing depth is furthered when you take into account the all new Level Editor. You can design your own skate park from scratch, including themes, scenery, and every ramp, step, kicker and pool. The interface is intuitive and easy to learn, and adds replay to a game that doesn't even really need it. You can spend hours on the single player Career mode alone. I just can't imagine getting bored with this game.
More customization can also be found in the Skater Creator. You can build your own little thrasher, complete with his own outfit, skill set and moves list. While not nearly as impressive as the yet to be matched player creator from WWF Attitude, this is still a step up from the original.
The Creator is made even better in the DC version due to the improved graphics. I was actually able to create my dream skater - J.J. from Good Times. Now if only I could design my own moves...I'm dying to pull off the "Dy-no-mite Kickflip!"
The graphics, by the way, are brilliant. The textures are realistic, the framerate hauls, the characters look great and there's very little pop-up. Shadows accompany the sakter wherever he goes, lending an impressive 3D feel. They're just a huge improvement ove the original...check here to see a side-by-side comparison (the left is PSX, the right is DC).
I'll readily admit not being the biggest fan of contemporary punk rock, which made the soundtrack from the first game sort of tough to swallow after the thirtieth time. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 features a wider assortment of music, from punk to rap to metal. Plus, it's got the Anthrax/Public Enemy classic Bring the Noise, which is so cool that trying to explain how cool it is will do Chuck D. a disservice. Yeeeeeahhhhh boooyyyyyeeeee!
As if all this wasn't enough (it is, by the way), you can still play against friends in Graffiti, Trick Attack, HORSE, or the new Tag mode. Again, the improved graphics in this version makes for an even smoother two-player game.
I should note that there isn't actually anything new in the DC version. This was a problem in the Dreamcast version of the original, mainly because the game came out nearly a year after the PSX version and they had plenty of time to come up with some new stuff. Since the DC version of Tony Hawk 2 came out right after the PSX version, however, I'm not taking off any points for the lack of new stuff in this one.
So is there anything wrong here? Yeah, if you squint your eyes and look REALLY hard.
The replay feature is a bit archaic and still won't let you manually control playback. This can get irritating, particularly when the CPU playback totally misses the kick-ass moves you wanted to see again.
The camera is fixed, meaning there is but one option. It's pretty solid, but THPS 2 could really use a 'free look' feature like the one in Grind Session, or at least a few different angles to choose from. You can't look up or down, which can lead to frustration when trying to locate a certain ledge or object.
Also, the sound in the DC version is a bit weak. Not sure why, but effects sound thin and tinny compared to the PSX version.
But these are niggling faults, and once again we have a winner. This is a better game than the PSX version, which itself is a better game than the first Tony Hawk, which itself is one of the best games ever. The result is a no-brainer.