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Tony Hawk's Underground - A Worthy Return? 47

Posted by simoniker
from the birdman-go-tweet-tweet dept.
Thanks to 1UP for their review of Tony Hawk's Underground, as the extreme sports title heads into stores for its fifth iteration, and the reviewer seems to approve, mentioning that "cinematic story makes single-player fun again", as well as lauding "user-created content options", including level and animation editors, that "have massive potential." Tragically, you can only play online using the PlayStation 2 version, a major blow for Xbox Live fans, contributing to IGN's rating of the title as "a solid, if not a perfect, outing", and the conclusion: "If you're a PS2 owner, go get it. If you're anybody else, you may want to just hold that thought before diving in." Finally, GameSpot basically approve, directly countering that "most of the game's goals don't tie into the story at all", but still praising it as "another great installment."
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Tony Hawk's Underground - A Worthy Return?

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  • My thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The-Bus (138060) on Wednesday October 29, 2003 @07:28AM (#7336468)
    I think the series peaked with THPS3 -- 4 was good but it was incredibly, awfully hard, which made it just a smidgen less exciting than 3. Now this one seems like it's going to be more of the same. I liked THPS because it was a game you could pick up, play for 10 minutes or 60 minutes and have an equal amount of fun. Now, with more "RPG" (and I use that term loosely) elements throw in, you probably need to have a fair amount of time on your hands to really be able to enjoy yourself.

    Now, if SSX3 hadn't come out last week, I probably would be all over this, but I can see myself spending most of my free time on that game (which is brilliant and addictive) as opposed to THUG.
    • Re:My thoughts (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bozzaj (682845)
      I started playing the game last night, and the RPG elements actually just make the level progression fit into a "story" instead of just "A new level has been unlocked!" In fact, you only need to finish a certain number of the objectives in Story Mode before the story continues. You can go back and finish the other objectives if you want. All in all the new story mode works extremely well.

      As for THPS4 being too hard. THUG has a difficulty setting, so it'll actually be much easier for new players to ju
  • And I love it! It takes the ideas of THPS4 and brings it to a level that really works. Best new feature in my opinion is the difficulty level setting. It makes a huge difference in how the game plays.
  • by Inoshiro (71693) on Wednesday October 29, 2003 @10:35AM (#7337279) Homepage
    Activision is essentially telling its Xbox customers to fuck themselves. Yes, they put in some effort on Tony Hawk 2x (new levels, volumetric grass, custom soundtracks), but Tony Hawk 3 was a stop back (the only Xbox-ish feature was 4 player support).

    Then they came out with Tony Hawk 4. At a time when every other game came with online features, Tonk Hawk 4 topped out at 2 players and no other features. Talk about lame! Additionally, despite the fact that the Xbox uses DVD9 discs, the music soundtracks are overly compressed on Tony Hawk 4, making it essentially unlistenable on a good sound setup.

    THUG not having online support is just a reaffirmation that Activision doesn't care about its users. It's only supporting the Xbox because people will buy anything they put out.

    Don't believe me? Read this comment [slashdot.org] that essentially says, " I think the series peaked with THPS3 -- 4 was good but it was incredibly, awfully hard, which made it just a smidgen less exciting than 3. Now this one seems like it's going to be more of the same. ... Now, if SSX3 hadn't come out last week, I probably would be all over this [THUG]" Even the people who say it's bad can't help but buy it. Way to go, Activision -- milk that franchise!
    • Activision is essentially telling its Xbox customers to fuck themselves. [...] At a time when every other game came with online features, Tonk Hawk 4 topped out at 2 players and no other features.

      That's because Microsoft won't let you develop online multiplayer games for Xbox unless you agree to let Microsoft own your customer data and host your online presence on Microsoft software [xboxsolution.com]. Activision and EA won't agree to that, so no online Xbox multiplayer. Don't like it? Blame Microsoft for acting like they

      • Tinfoil hat on (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mike Hawk (687615)
        Dont believe the hype. If that was the reason why THUG is not Live, why did Activision add Live support to SofII, RtCW, and JK:JA and others? Think harder young one, why would a company make a game online for one system and not all systems? Why would any game come out on one system and not others?

        I'm pretty sure there is nothing philosphical going on here. This has little to do with MS. Think hard about what might motivate someone...
        • Dont believe the hype. If that was the reason why THUG is not Live, why did Activision add Live support to SofII, RtCW, and JK:JA and others?

          It's not Activision that didn't put online support in THUG, it was Activistion O2, their sports games subsidiary.
          Activision and Activision O2 are two wholly different entities when it comes down to final decisions. Just as EA and EA Sports, Blizzard and Blizzard North, and (to get out of the gaming world) Sony (the makers of consumer electronics like MP3 players)
          • Maybe my copy is different than your's smart guy. Mine doesn't say Activision O2 on it anywhere. Neither does their website. [activision.com] In fact, good luck finding a current reference to O2 anywhere. Have fun!

            And since you really don't know what you are talking about, O2 was never a seperate entity, it was a brand, just like EA Big. Im sorry, your answer is incorrect, please try again later.
      • That's because Microsoft won't let you develop online multiplayer games for Xbox unless you agree to let Microsoft own your customer data and host your online presence on Microsoft software [xboxsolution.com]. Activision and EA won't agree to that, so no online Xbox multiplayer. Don't like it? Blame Microsoft for acting like they have a console monopoly and can make developers agree to anything.

        I'm not sure why Activision doesn't support online play in one game and not another (though I'd imagine cash has
  • by JimR (101182) on Wednesday October 29, 2003 @12:53PM (#7338717) Homepage

    ...Tony Hawks [tony-hawks.com].

    And so it seems do a lot of other people.

    • From the site:

      "Tony Hawk is an American whizz kid skateboarding champion, whilst I am a startlingly good-looking British male model. So why the confusion?"

      "Yet, each week I receive e mail from young people from all over the world congratulating me on my skateboarding prowess and asking advice on how to do various manoeuvres."

      Hmm... Apparently this guy doesn't realize that Tony Hawk is over 35 years old...

      \Tant
  • Seriously Activision, the joke's not funny anymore. Lack of Xbox Live support was the reason I never bought THPS4. Until then, I'll just have to make do with Xbox Connect and System Link, but you guys have got to straighten out your differences with Microsoft before THUG 2 comes out.

    Actually, maybe they were throwing System Link as a bone...honestly, how many people do you know have their own copy of THUG for XBox? Or THPS4? Or hell, even THPS3 or THPS2x? Enough for a LAN party? Or do you get sidetr

  • Personally I am not upset at the xBox getting screwed. while Microsoft might have made a nice system, its licensing practices blow, and unlike PC companies who dont mind bending over and getting Bill's little Bill, the game manufacturers, knowing that they have two other perfectly viable systems out there have no problem saying, screw you.

    It's kinda nice to see people feel what its like to be a mac user too :-).

    • Give me a break, and return to your linux.slashdot.org section. The main reason why companies are not supporting XBL is that they don't have complete control over the cost. At some point in the very near future, EA, Activision, and [insert game company here] will start charging $5 a month to play their games. They can't do that as easily if someone is already paying $6 a month for XBL.

      I'm sorry. Dislike Microsoft PC all you want or make fun of their crappy first party games and you'll hear nothing from
      • not exactly, XBL is actually a huge copy of Sony's PlayOnline in Japan, which is what the PS3's online structure is...

        And guess what, PlayOnline has been around much longer than the XBox

        • It's really not cool to correct someone with wrong information. PlayOnline is NOT a Sony product and is instead a Square [Enix] creation created initially for Final Fantasy XI and will cover future Square online-enabled projects.

          "And guess what," PlayOnline has been around since 2002 - before Xbox Live (not by that much) but not "much longer than the Xbox."

        • Can you provide me with a link backing that up? The way I understood PlayOnline, it was initially a hintbook attachment system. I can find plenty of Japanese links, but I'd like to read something about that in English.
      • But if you dislike XBL, it's only because you haven't seen it in action.

        I have seen it in action. Many times. I won't say I dislike it, per say, but I will say I grow bored of it rather quickly. Supposedly Crimson Skies is real good on Live, though, so I'll try and rent it next week and see.

        It's heads and tails above anything the PS2 can do, and in many ways is revolutionary for what it has accomplished.

        Revolutionary? Stat tracking and VOIP is revolutionary? Hardly, been done for a good long wh

    • Personally I am not upset at the xBox getting screwed. while Microsoft might have made a nice system, its licensing practices blow, and unlike PC companies who dont mind bending over and getting...

      It's so easy to say when you dont have one. :(

  • Tony Hawk's Underground?

    I didn't even know he was dead.
  • by TheSwink (720021)
    So, I'm a designer at Neversoft. A couple thoughts: "Activision is essentially telling its Xbox customers to fuck themselves" Well, not really. As observed above, it's Microsoft's stringent Live guidelines that are preventing you from having your THUG online. Basically, we (Neversoft) refused to compromise on two points: 1. People should have to pay extra to play Tony Hawk online (players pay Microsoft for the privilege of accessing our online vault!?) and 2. Microsoft's Live 'guidelines' mandate certai
  • by TheSwink (720021) <sswink@flashbangstudios.com> on Wednesday October 29, 2003 @03:30PM (#7340239) Homepage
    So, I'm a designer at Neversoft. A couple thoughts:

    "Activision is essentially telling its Xbox customers to fuck themselves"

    Well, not really. As observed above, it's Microsoft's stringent Live guidelines that are preventing you from having your THUG online. Basically, we (Neversoft) refused to compromise on two points: 1. People should have to pay extra to play Tony Hawk online (players pay Microsoft for the privilege of accessing our online vault!?) and 2. Microsoft's Live 'guidelines' mandate certain things, some of which overlap with our online features. And, from a pragmatic standpoint, having our game be Live compatible means an entirely separate submission process for us, meaning the Xbox version would probably ship later than the other two.

    On reviews:

    The problem we're having with reviews, from my perspective, is the same across the board. THUG is larger and deeper than any console game has ever been. Now, I don't mean that as a blaring note on my own trumpet; THUG's size is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, anyone who invests in the game could probably play it for a month without running out of things to discover. The downside: effectively reviewing the game in a short time is nigh impossible. Some reviewers see the good (1up); some see the bad (Gamespot). This is not a problem particular to THUG; it's a problem with game criticism as a whole.

    A single player can only ever offer his or her own experience with a particular game. As a designer you accept that, and you accept responsibility for every player's experience when playing your game. The frustrating part is that a game like THUG is that it must be designed with the assumption that people will invest a lot of time in it. This is not an unreasonable assumption considering the history of the series but it's frustrating as a designer because it means that people can't just pick up your game and have fun with it (see also: game critics). They have to be in it for the long haul.

    I believe it was Jonathan Baron who observed that playing a game is like reading a novel; you invest much more time and effort than in something like a film or television program and are consequently rewarded with a richer, deeper, and more fulfilling experience (pardon my lazy paraphrasing.) That said, I also think that it's unreasonable to ask an underpaid hobbyist to spend more than a few hours with your game before giving his or her impressions of it. What I don't think is unreasonable is asking said critic to update that review at some point.

    Now, I agree that playing a game is much more like reading a novel than watching a movie but I think where the analogy falls short is in the relationship between time invested and mastery, specifically in how predicable that relationship is. When you buy a novel you know that regardless of how quickly you read, reading the contents of each page means that you've finished that book. Not so with games (I'm assuming we're talking about reasonably designed games here, not the dregs.) They offer a different experience each time you sit down to play and they're self-canonizing: the more you play, the more learn about the game and the more skilled you become. The better you are at a game, the more fun it is to play. I usually avoid making generalizations but that one is universally true. You must master a game to unlock its full enjoyment potential and must therefore master it to effectively understand and critique it.

    For example, I've seen quite a few reviews mention the runout/walking addition in passing, as though it really has no effect on gameplay. Forsooth! When mastered it redefines the gameplay. It's an entirely new verb. On the roadmap of Tony Hawk gameplay innovations it lies somewhere between manual and spine transfer, meaning it radically redefines the way in which you play the game. If you've only played the game for a short while this is not readily apparent, especially if you're playing the game the same way you played Ton
    • As a designer, is this game fun for people with human reflexes?

      I liked the other Tony Hawk games, don't get me wrong. They were fun, but frustrating. Doing more than say two tricks in the air seemed to require coordination and reflexes that nobody I knew had. And if you wanted to get anywhere in the game, you had to be able to do more than 2 tricks in a row.

      I suppose I probably could have learned to do these types of tricks if I played the game for months on end, but what's the fun in that? It wa

      • That was one of our cheif concerns in designing THUG: how to cater to the largest possible audience. As a designer that's a bit sucky because you run the risk of having the game feel watered down, but on a retail game it's more or less a necessity. Our solution this time was to add four difficulty levels that even go so far as to modify the physics of the game, hopefully making it fun for almost anyone. On the lowest difficulty setting my Mom was able to get through the first couple levels so I think it'
    • by BenSnyder (253224)
      Swink,

      A few thoughts from a long time fan of the series, owner of the game (picked it up last night) and current frustrated customer with the Activision server that's currently tanking and breaking the "your face in the game" feature.

      First, I picked it up for the ps2 but I own all 3 next-gen systems. I hear ya on your reasoning not to be Live compatible but as a gamer, I have just one response: I'm already paying for Live. If the choice is between no online play or subscribing to Live, consider myself s
      • I didn't know the server was tanked, last I'd heard it was up. Hopefully the usage will level out a bit after the inital push, though it's likely we'll add servers to meet demand.

        As far as the Live subscription goes, the concern was primarily for the users who aren't subscribed to Live but who want to play Tony Hawk online. That said, it could be argued (and I did) that anyone who'd want to play THUG online would probably already be a subscriber. So, you're not really in that demographic, being a subsc
        • Just for the hell of it, I wanna tell you that the most fun I've ever had with the series was with the demo for the first game on the Dreamcast. Me and a friend took turns competiting to see how high we could score after we got all 5 tapes before time ran out.

          The particular way we played the demo forced you to be a good trickster but also efficient in which lines you ran to hit the boxes, get S-K-A-T-E, etc. The benefit the demo had over the real game was the ability to redo that level from the beginni
    • Xbox Live Response:

      1. If you mean people are paying for Xbox Live, so what? Anyone who is playing Xbox Live-enabled games has already paid for it anyway. If you mean paying extra for access to something extra, that's easy: Just allow people to connect and play online. If we can't put our own face in the game, most of us won't consider that a crisis of epic proportions.

      2. You really need to elaborate on point 2. If you're complaining about the fact that Xbox Live has an online framework in place wi

      • Eh, that's a bit trollish. Point 1: as I said, not a huge factor in the decision, just a contributing factor. Mostly, management objects to players having to pay Microsoft to play Tony Hawk. Also, note that Microsoft does not allow any online Xbox play that doesn't use Live. Point 2: Live does not work with our code. It's easy to say things like "Live has an online framework in place with which you would have to comply, that's an odd thing to complain about..." if you're not the one that has to make it
        • You're right. I shouldn't be so critical. I mean it's not like Tony Hawk games are huge money-makers like Midnight Club 2 (networking on both PS2 and Xbox Live), Phantasy Star Online (networking on both Gamecube and Xbox Live) or Castle Wolfenstein (networking on both PS2 and Xbox Live), and thus are able to support multiple networking schemes. I don't know what I was thinking!

          Now THAT is a troll. :-)

          • Hahah...indeed.

            The one thing I would point out is that the core tech for those those were all more recently developed, had way longer development cycles, and in (in the case of PSO) had their online component as a major selling point.

            But, as you said, you're not interested in playing THUG online anyway ;).
            • But, as you said, you're not interested in playing THUG online anyway ;).

              Exactly. It was my hope that by mentioning that I would make it clear that I was offering an academic argument as opposed to complaining about your game in particular (though my "lazy and uncaring" comment was over the line by that measure).

              I'm simply an advocate of the idea that console games (especially beyond FPS games) should be placed online whenever possible, especially when their competitive elements are compelling. Tetris

    • Is this game coming out for PC? I sure hope so!

      I don't want to have to buy a xbox.
    • I think another thing people are missing in their arguments about not supporting Xbox Live is the fact that Neversoft and GameSpy have been working on getting the THPS netcode working better and better with each version.

      There were some hiccups in THPS3's networking that could affect gameplay, but many of those were ironed out for THPS4. It's probably safe to assume THUG has ironed out some of the bugs from THPS4's netcode as well (I haven't taken it online yet, going through story mode first).

      Also, as

  • THUG is a stupid name. Like I'ld ever tell anyone I'm buying the game "THUG". Shortening names is good and all but not if they're stupid.
  • ...and in no way constitute the views of Neversoft, Activision, or anyone but myself. All my information is hearsay and is in no way verifiable or documented and should not be construed as any sort of offical word from Neversoft, Activision, or Microsoft. Sorry for any confusion.

The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist "Jack." -- H.L. Mencken

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