Reviewed: January 15, 2002
Ever since reading Sniperís stellar review for the PS2 version of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 Iíve been jazzed about getting that game for the Xbox. Meanwhile, I welcomed the chance to review the next best thing; Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2x.
For those of you who have played either of the first two games in the Hawk series, you will instantly recognize this game. At its core, this game is made up of a stunning version of Tony Hawk 2 completely overhauled to take advantage of the power of the Xbox. Then you get the complete original Tony Hawk game, only this time you get to do all the moves from the sequel as well. And if thatís not enough, Treyarch has tossed in five new levels exclusive to the Xbox.
Tony Hawk has been the benchmark of quality gameplay ever since the original game released. It consistently gets better with each new release, and this new version is no exception. The controls are amazingly intuitive and you will be racking up the ďbig pointsĒ after just a few practice levels. There is a certain amount of technique to be mastered, but the game cleverly masks this learning process with great level design and addicting gameplay.
The Xbox controller is well suited for this game assuming you havenít been playing the PS2 version, otherwise you can expect a substantial learning curve. This was my first time playing a Tony Hawk game, so I had no existing controller issues to overcome. Actually, after playing a lot of snowboarding games like Dark Summit, the control scheme and combo system was quite intuitive.
Those of you who have played the previous games will undoubtedly want to jump right into those new levels. Be warned, that the designers have locked these levels down and you will have to complete both of the original games to ultimately unlock all of the bonus levels. If you are new to the series then his wonít be a huge issue, and if you are a veteran of the series, you can probably jump through these hoops in a day or so.
For those of you that follow this sport in real life, you will be pleased with the selection of boarders that include top pros like Steamer, Thomas, Glifberg, Burnquist, Rowley, Campbell, Lasek, Mullen, Koston, Caballero, and of course, Tony Hawk.
The expanded trick library contains all of the tricks from the original games and for the first time you can use the tricks from Tony Hawk 2 on the levels from the original Tony Hawk game.
While Iíve seen screenshots of previous versions of Tony Hawk, and actually saw Tony Hawk 3 in action on the PS2 and GameCube, I can say with almost certainty that this is the best looking Tony Hawk game to date on any system. Of course the upcoming Xbox version of Tony Hawk 3 may make me eat those words, but for now, it doesnít get any better than this.
The level design is identical to the previous versions that this game is compiled from, but the textures, models, and other details have all been tweaked to draw on the power of the Xbox. Characters feature detailed faces with expressions, and simple things like the grass texture has been replaced with individual blades of grass giving the game a 3D depth with unparalleled realism. The levels are large with amazing draw distance and no pop-up. There are also plenty of secrets for you to locate.
The architecture is finished off with detailed textures that are lit with some nice environmental lighting giving everything added realism. The levels are definitely more heavily populated with random objects and obstacles than previous versions of the game. There are flying birds and trash swirls around in the breeze while crowds cheer you on to bigger and better stunts. This makes it seem you are boarding in the real world versus some artificial arena.
The soundtrack features some popular artists and tracks that are sure to please anyone who plays these kinds of games. If you have played Tony Hawk 2 then you will recognize most of the music, as the soundtrack from that game made the trip into this title. Of course the music-ripping capabilities of the Xbox are most appreciated with a game such as this, and there is full support for creating your own music tracks and using them in this game.
Music aside; the sound effects are excellent from the low rumble of wheels on concrete to the harsh grind of your board on a rail, to the ďUmph!Ē when you hit the pavement after a failed trick. The voices and dialog are all excellent quality.
This game is going to keep you busy for a long time, even if you have already played and won the earlier versions. You will admire the new graphics as you make your way through the original levels and enjoy learning the new Xbox levels once they are unlocked.
When you have finished everything the game seems to offer you can crank up the level editor and start making your own levels. The level editor is just as intuitive and fun to play with as the main game. Youíll even find a few cool things that didnít make it into the final game. There are over 100 different construction pieces such as ramps, funboxes, obstacles, and quarter-pipes you can use to create the skate park of your dreams. While it may not be the most advanced level editor on the block, it is more than adequate to extend the life of this game almost indefinitely, and with the storage potential of your Xbox hard disk, the number of levels you can create is limited only by your imagination.
Next to HALO, this is probably one of the best multiplayer games out for the Xbox right now. You can network multiple systems together for a LAN party and have everyone skating simultaneously, or take part in one of the many challenging modes of gameplay such as Trick Attack or Graffiti where you actually mark your turf by pulling off various tricks.
Tag and HORSE are some of the other multiplayer games you can play either on a LAN or using the built-in split-screen mode that supports up to four players on a single system. You might be amazed at how many of your old friends start to visit after you get this game.
Normally, games start to lose their charm after they have gone through a few sequels, not to mention getting ported to an entirely new system. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2x is an amazing game that takes two good games, combines them, and makes them even better. The Xbox delivers some stunning visuals at silky smooth frame rates and features excellent and intuitive controls and challenging gameplay.
The only thing keeping this game from getting a higher score is the simple fact that it is a rehash of existing games. If youíve never played Tony Hawk on another system and simply canít wait for Tony Hawk 3 on the Xbox then you can probably justify getting this game; otherwise, what little Xbox exclusives that are present are simply not reason enough to purchase this game.