Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. The mere concept of a sequel to last year's surprise hit is enough to send chills down the spines of the game's die-hard fans. Luckily, those chills are not in vain - Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 is the perfect example of how to make a sequel to an already amazing game. The levels are bigger, the trick catalog is more plentiful, the number of goals per level has been doubled, and the already stunning gameplay has been honed even further.
All of the professional skaters from the first game have returned, and new skaters like Rodney Mullen, Eric Koston, and Steve Caballero have been added to the roster. Also, you can create your own skater, choosing from different skin and model types. All of the first game's modes are back. You can opt to skate a two-minute single session, freely skate around a level with no time limit, or enter the career mode. The career mode here is much more than the first game's. Completing level goals in career mode earns cash, and you spend that cash on higher attribute points, new boards, and new tricks. This makes the game pretty customizable - if you don't like your skaters tricks, a little money and some time on the trick screen and you can set any trick to almost any button combination you want.
With the exception of the three competition levels, each level in the game has ten different goals, each with a different dollar value assigned to it. Three of the goals are score-based, and you still have to spell skate and collect a hidden tape as well. Four of the goals are fairly level specific. In New York, you'll do things like collect subway tokens, 50-50 grind on a sculpture, and grind on a set of subway rails. In Philly, you'll have to drain a fountain, find four lips and do lip tricks on them, and collect small liberty bells. In Venice, you'll ollie over five "magic" bums, tailslide the Venice Ledge, collect spray paint cans, and find four specially marked transfers. Finally, the goal in each level is completed when you've completed the other nine goals and collected every piece of spinning money. In competition levels, you earn 90 percent completion by earning the gold medal, and the remaining 10 percent comes from collecting all the cash in the level. Later levels are opened up when you've collected a certain amount of cash. You don't need to get 100 percent completion in each level to beat the game's final level, but you'll be too addicted to the game to settle for anything less.
The multiplayer game is just as exciting as it was in the original. With the exception of horse, all of the other modes are played simultaneously. Trick attack is a timed score contest. Graffiti tags a surface with your skater's color when you include it in a trick - if you do a better trick on a surface owned by your opponent, it switches to your color. Tag gives each player a timer, which only counts down when you're "it." The first player to run out of time loses. The game still runs at full speed in the two-player split screen modes, though most of the levels have been altered a bit for multiplayer - for instance, the Skatestreet level loses its outdoor areas, and the Bullring no longer allows you to get up into the stands, which have been replaced by draw-in shrouding fog.
Tony Hawk 2 looks so good that you may occasionally have trouble believing it's a PlayStation game. The textures are large and colorful, and some levels include lots of nicely detailed graffiti. The levels themselves are absolutely enormous, each containing at least one hidden area. Yet even with the large levels, the game runs at a nice, solid speed at all times. The camera works extremely well in almost any situation, though it would have been nice to see a look function in the game, like the skater's eye function found in Sony's extremely Hawk-like Grind Session.