Tony Hawk's Underground (Microsoft Xbox, 2003)
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|Activision's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series gears up for another run in Tony Hawk's Underground, a 3D skateboarding title offering the most radical departure from previous installments in the franchise to date. More freedom and greater customization features are at the top of the list in improvements, but the biggest change is the absence of professional skaters. Instead of mastering the moves of Tony Hawk or another athlete, players must guide a no-name skater looking for a break on the tough streets of New Jersey. Gone is the Career mode from previous titles and in its place is a Story mode that chronicles an individual's rise from obscurity to become "Skater of the Year."
For the first time in the series, players can actually explore their environment without the skateboard, accessing new areas by walking up a flight of stairs, grabbing and lifting themselves onto rooftops, or shimmying across ledges. Missions have expanded as well, with players able to steal a car to complete objectives and perform other tasks to help gain notoriety and hopefully land a sponsorship deal. While this Xbox version lacks the online capabilities of its PlayStation 2 cousin, players can still create a likeness of themselves using a variety of preset facial features. Customization options have also expanded to the point where players can create their own tricks, parks, skateboards, and mission goals and save them all to the hard drive.
The game was developed with a theme of individuality, which was manifested in the extensive customization options, the presence of a narrative, and the product's characterization as an adventure game. Real-world professional skateboarders contributed their experiences to the plot. Upon release, the game was a major critical and commercial success, with reviewers praising its wide appeal, soundtrack, customization, multiplayer, and plot. The graphics and the controls for driving vehicles and walking were less well received.
Tony Hawk's Underground received "generally positive" reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic. GameZone's Michael Knutson stated that Underground is "one of the best skating games around" and that players of every skill level would enjoy it. Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell concurred: "as a 'pick-up-and-play' sort of game, THUG is endlessly rewarding once you get your head round the basics, and it's the best entry point for the series to date."
|Game||Tony Hawk's Underground|
|Number of Players||1 or 2 (System Link: 1 - 8)|
|ESRB Rating||T - Teen|
|ESRB Descriptor||Blood, Mild Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes|
|Game Special Features||
|Game Series||Tony Hawk's Underground Series|
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