[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/thug/cover.jpg[/floatleft]It seems that with any series that lasts more than about 2 games, the game concepts get stale and the developer has to put a tremendous amount of effort into the next release just so that the reaction to a game is positive. How does that principle work considering the Tony Hawk series is now on its 5th or 6th (depending on if you count 2X or not) game in the series? Quite well actually. Aside from casual playing, I was introduced to the series with THPS4 on the Xbox. I felt that 4 was a very solid release and I was very weary of what Neversoft and Activision could add to Underground to make it worthy of my time and money.
The big addition to THPS2 was the use of the manual and its ability to help you link together long strings of tricks into insane combos. TH3 added the revert so you could make combos while on a half or quarter pipe. The new “revelation” in Underground is the ability to jump off your board, run for a moment, then remount your board and still continue the same combo. While I can see the advantage to this addition, it won’t be as revolutionary as the manual was to the overall game experience. The reason for this is because it’s extraordinarily difficult to control your character while not on board. This feature has its time and place, but don’t expect to use it all the time.
The rest of THUG feels and plays just like 4 did with the exception of a few changes in gameplay. Career mode from 4 was replaced by a story mode in THUG, which is actually a lot nicer. Instead of just selecting random tasks to complete, there is a nice little story that goes along with what you are doing and it made the game more enjoyable.
[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/thug/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatright]Still present is the ability to create your own skater with a wide variety of appearances and accessories that help make your skater “unique”. Unlockable secrets and cheats made the cut as well. Most of those features have become standard fare for the Tony Hawk series.
A few new things you will notice are the ability to create your own tricks as well as to put your face in the game (only in the PS2 version of the game). You can find instructions about how to put your face in the game on the THUG [url=www.thugonline.com]website[/url]. The “create a trick” portion of the game was super easy and made for some interesting fun trying to create the wackiest looking tricks on the planet. I think this is the part of the game that I mentioned in the beginning of the review about having to put a lot of effort into new concepts to keep the game fresh.
It was sad that THUG was not live enabled as THUG would have been a nice addition to the Xbox Live family, but PS2 owners do have the option of playing online where Xbox and GC owners are not as fortunate.
[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/thug/ss13_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]All in all THUG is THPS4 with new levels, more options, and the same great soundtrack. While I certainly haven’t played THUG as much as I did THPS4, I would say THUG certainly delivered as the next game in the Tony Hawk series. If you are still enjoying TH4, there is no need to rush out and pick up THUG as the games are so similar, but if you are dying for some new content and the Tony Hawk games are your thing, then THUG is for you.