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Tony Hawk | Pro Skater 2 | review | game | Lollipop

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

(Activision for the Playstation)
by Eric Johnson

Once upon a time, I was a poser. Back when skateboards only had one tail, a boy of fourteen began his second freshman year of high school at a private institution in Waltham, Massachusetts. That school had an eight-foot plywood halfpipe where kids I thought were cool could grind away their free time. By the end of that year, I'd decided that I too wanted to skate. The plan of action involved reading Thrasher, watching videos, and hoarding cash to attain essential equipment for grinding in the crisp Fall air. The cruel and arbitrary destruction of that plywood temple late that August killed my skateboarding dream faster than a goldfish in stomach acid. Yes, I was a clinically-diagnosed poser, but it was for only one summer oh so very long ago.

This remote chapter in my past makes the vicarious thrill of playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 all the more intense. Tony Hawk has been around for a long time - one of the fellas that starred in those videos I used to rent - and he's managed to keep enough cartlidge in his knees to remain competitive. Tony Hawk 2 is a great sequel to a great game and is virtually identical to its predecessor in look and spirit. Played from a third-person perspective, the original was the first successful attempt to recreate the fresh, improvisational spirit of pulling tricks in empty pools, halfpipes, and on public benches. There are some nice additions (larger levels, more skaters, and a park editor) to tempt owners of the original to part with their cash. Intact is the deliciously fluid ease of control that strikes a balance between memorization and improvisation. Each button controls a different movement, such as kicking your leg out or grabbing the board's tail, and while airborne, you can spin your character in any suicidal gesticulating trick you want as long as you land well. Grinding in abandoned airplane hangers, school yards, and public parks is a blast. There are an obscene number of single and multi-player modes to keep things interesting. Opening up new areas does require playing the game in career mode, where you perform a laundry list of tasks in each environment. With thirteen professionals to play as, including the immortal Steve Caballero, career mode is hardly a chore. There is enough fun and pure variety present to make this a prized title for a very, very long time. My highest recommendations go out to this game. It's the kind of title that will suck in people who're not generally impressed by video games, and is a healthy way for ex-posers to vicariously live out what they and their easily-twisted ankles never had the guts to try.

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