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July 2, 2001

GW Xbox > Xbox Previews > Preview Page



previews

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x

Developer
Treyarch

Publisher
Activision

Genre
Sports

Release
Fall 2001

Anticipation
High

X marks the spot. Tony Hawk plans to go the extreme on Microsoft's revolutionary console in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x.

Controllers, cables, and games - oh my! Ah, the ever so common feeling that all gamers get as we stroll into a videogame store on the launch day of a new console. And recently, as of the Sega Dreamcast debut, there have been plenty of games to choose from to go along with your next-generation machine. One problem: the majority of the games available at launch have, um, bit the digital dust…hard.


When will developers realize that it's quality over quantity? Yes, while some of you register this into those greedy little minds of yours (I want MORE!), my aforementioned statement will slowly begin to make quite a lot of sense. With that said, it finally seems that one console will pack more quality over quantity at its launch. What console would that be? None other than Microsoft's Xbox. And one of its quality products will feature our favorite skateboarder, Tony Hawk, as the reigning skateboarding champion plans to reign again in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x. I hope you brought an umbrella, because he's going to "reign" all over you.

TH2X comes to Xbox not as a sequel, but as a compilation of the two previous versions that were released on the PlayStation and Dreamcast, as it will feature all levels - both from THPS and THPS2 - as well as three new levels. At this year's recent E3 show, I got the chance to play the game hands-on. The demo that was playable at E3, while only showing off two of the three new levels, which were a disco level and a France competition level, was wonderfully put together. The major difference between the Xbox version and its DC and PSX counterparts lies in, of course, the graphical department. Detail to the environment and the skaters is unparalleled and trick animations seem to be a lot smoother. Character reaction to the environment, as well as the controller (the size and awkward parallel button position of Xbox controller takes away from the game somewhat) are much more fluid and response is lightning fast.


Animation has also been completely revamped for the game. Trick transitions and bails (with bails probably being the most significant enhancement) are the game's strongest points and make it shine all the more. Bails are much more harsh (as expected with a newer version of the game), and unlike its lower grade counterparts, crashing in the game is much more realistic as players need not worry about goofy looking bails or the ever-so-popular "floating through the ground" bail. The game actually seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to the bails, as the skaters in the game seem to be in touch with the ground they grind on, feeling every groove and crack. And when they crash, they crash for a reason…and hard. Framerate isn't a problem with this game, and the designers have even added in a sweet looking blur effect that gives off the impression of ultimate speed. (Editor's note: drool…)

The main problem that I, as well as several other gamers that were on the show floor, found was the difficult control. While the button configuration is exactly the same as its counterparts, the aforementioned size and awkward button placement on the official Xbox controller kills it. The buttons have a sort of parallel position to each other instead of a diamond like facing, and the face of the controller (especially towards its sides) slope outward, which makes it even harder to press the parallel buttons. Top it off with the fact that the buttons seem to be too small for their awkward position and the immense size of the controller (the controller is actually almost the size of a Dreamcast console), and not only do you get a bad controller, but one that also can kill a sweet game. I actually got annoyed with the controller several times because it was hard to play the game. Since I couldn't press the right buttons and I often had to look at the controller instead of at the monitor (Editor's Note: a controller should NEVER force you to have to take your eyes away from the screen to use it while playing a game), I became very frustrated and found myself walking away from one of my favorite games (yes, the controller is THAT bad.) Be prepared to see a lot of third party controllers for this system and possibly even seeing Microsoft itself bring in another controller for the machine.


Features of a game are what it's all about folks. And with TH2X not being a sequel, features are definitely what it's all about. Activision is certainly the company to come to when it comes down to quality features, as TH2X is expected to come with plenty of them. From a more robust park editor to the ability to create female skaters (this ought to please our female gaming population or male, um, "female enthusiasts"), the game will have it all. The Xbox's hard drive will also come into play, as when you first pop in the disk it will be saved on the hard drive, allowing for cartridge-like loading times. You'll even be able to download your favorite music tracks to it to listen to while you play the game. While the tracks in this game are far from being bad, no one can object to being able to play your own music in place of a game track. Imagine the hilarious and violent tunes of Eminem or D-12 with this game.

The droolification (or drool factor for those that can't read my word) of this game is insane. Enhancement is THE word for TH2X. On top of everything else that I mentioned above, Activision also intends to make TH2X the ultimate multiplayer game, coming fully equipped with LAN support for up to 8 players, several multiplayer options, 4-player split screen support, and much more. Can you say "schwing"? Or how about "we're not worthy"?


As an ordinary fan of the series you'll be amazed with this game. But as a die-hard fan of the THPS series, you'll be in love once again. After playing this game at E3 I couldn't help but fall in love all over again. The only thing I can see hurting this game is, believe it or not, Microsoft's controller. It's obvious they didn't spend too much time with the design of the controller, as it directly resembles the likes of several of their PC controllers. Once a good third party controller is available (probably by Interact, Mad Catz, or Pelican Accessories), I'll probably end of buying one of those. Other than the controller, it's a match made in heaven. Definitely pick this title up at the launch of Microsoft's first console, the Xbox, on November 8, 2001.

Dameon White
Forgot to include a strapline.





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