Before he started wasting our precious time and money with ridiculous skateboard peripherals, Tony Hawk, with the help of publisher Activision and developer Neversoft, was putting out the best skateboarding games around. Originally released on nearly every system back in 2000, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is arguably the best in the series as well as one of the best videogames, period. Now it has arrived with all of its great content intact on a device that is really good, though not the greatest, at presenting it to you.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 comes from a simpler time when skateboarding games were about crazy arcade physics and chaining together huge trick combos, before EA’s subdued Skate series hit the market. Most of the foundations, however, come from the real world.
The four trick buttons are ollie, flip, grab, and grind, but the way you’ll be using those tricks has you performing stunts better suited on the moon. Watching your skater fly into the sky, fall from a ridiculous height at a crazy angle, and land with some blood spraying out only to stand up totally unaffected makes the already fun experience comical to boot.
This will end up either epically awesome or epically painful.
But what good are those tricks without a reason to use them? Sure, you can free skate from the get-go, but the real meat of this game is career mode. After choosing from several real-world skaters, including Bob Burnquist and the Birdman himself, you’re tasked with skating around the world for cash and fame.
Whether it’s France or Philly, the venues all have you completing specific goals in limited time spans to earn cash or medals in order to advance. This could simply mean performing enough fancy tricks to rack up tons of points, or scouring the level for hidden emblems on grind rails and getting high enough on halfpipes to find new trick spots. Coupled with the pure fun of the core skating mechanics, the goals are just varied enough to keep them from becoming a grind.
Money lets you unlock new levels and customize your character. These are more than just mere cosmetic changes. Cash can be used to improve your skater’s stats in various areas. For example, upgrading your hang time lets you earn more points, get more cash, and then get even better hang time. It demonstrates how a sprinkle of RPG elements can improve any kind of game.
Grinding with the bulls.
It’s a great game, but it was also great ten years ago. The vast majority of Tony Hawk 2 still holds up now, but its console roots date it ever so slightly.
Technically the graphics are stunning, with full 3D, a smooth framerate, and lots of visually interesting trick animations. But from an artistic standpoint, the realism that was acceptable in 2000 is a little bland now, without the benefit of being on the cutting edge. Perhaps they should have gone with a more colorful, comic graphical style like Tony Hawk’s American Skateland on the Nintendo DS. Luckily, the licensed soundtrack helps give the game some extra personality.
Also, the game gives you a choice between touch controls, tilt controls, and a blending of the two. The tilt controls give you plenty of sensitivity options, but in general moving around is imprecise in a way that mirrors the difficulty of navigating on a real skateboard a little too much for more casual, couch-based shredders. The touch controls are much better in comparison and perfectly functional in their own right. But compared to the D-pad/analog stick the game was designed for, it’s simply not as good.
Finally, by being a straight port, you miss out on extras like multiplayer or online leaderboards. Even though it’s the same game as before, it’s the best skateboarding game on the App Store. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is a fantastic, incredibly addictive landmark game that remains great to this day, no matter what you play it on.