By Bryn Williams | Nov. 5, 2003
Neversoft continues to dominate the popular extreme sports genre with a new take on skating. In THUG, you are the star -- bruises, cuts, scrapes and all. Grab your deck and go pro.
Refreshing spin genre; great for newbies; huge longevity; tons of extras.
No face-mapping; no online play; you either love it or hate it.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater continues to be a video-game phenomenon. With four monster hits already under its belt, developer Neversoft has released the latest game in the series -- Tony Hawk's Underground. And it's another winner. This time, the skate-mad Neversoft takes extreme fantasy boarding in a different direction. The mantra of THUG is that
you are the star. Even though GameCube owners still get the majority of the excellent gameplay -- including the awesome single-player story mode -- the most notable disappointment is the lack of any online content. Yep, only PS2 THUGers have the ability to map their own face into the game and play multiplayer sessions online. But still, THUG for the 'Cube remains one of the best games you'll play this year.
Let's kick off with the excellent single-player game. You assume the role of either a guy or girl who resides in a sketchy 'burb of New Jersey. You and your pal, Eric Sparrow, are just two skater kids who dream of hitting the pro circuit. A series of events begin in Jersey that'll take you on a global journey up through the ranks of amateur and professional urban skating until finally... well, no spoilers here... Along the way, you'll need to travel to Tampa, New York, and even Moscow where you'll be given a myriad of cool skating challenges and tasks to complete.
Unlike previous games in the series, you'll get to drive cars and even cruise around the levels on-foot. Your skater can jump and climb up ladders and even scale buildings in order to find those truly insane drops and lines. As the story unfolds, your character's skills will gradually increase until you're more than able to pull off the most unbelievable runs. All of the THPS4 trappings are here, including spine transfers, pressure flips, and flatland moves. New moves include the caveman (used to transition from on-foot to board), wall-pushes, and the cool wall-plant jump. THUG plays almost identically to THPS4 in this respect, but Neversoft has made sure that the game is accessible to newbies and old-school fans alike -- achieved through the four different difficulty level settings available from the get-go.
Do It Yourself
Part of the brilliance of this game is the multitude of user-defined options and modes that exist. There are full create-a-skater, create-a-park, and create-a-trick modes; all three of which are equally sweet in their own right. When it boils down to the create-a-skater mode there's a huge amount of customization available in terms of appearance, skin color, clothing, and extras. From here, you can go into the extremely well-designed park-building editor -- complete with create-your-own-goals -- and then onto the make-your-own-trick editor. 'Cube THUGers won't be able to trade parks, goals, and tricks online, but this, however, can be achieved by some simple memory card swappage.