|A Beginner's Guide to Tony Hawk 2|
July 27, 2001 | Joel Sparks
Your humble reporter came to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 as a complete sports-game novice. The last time I used a computer to simulate ESPN was a dollar’s worth of Pole Position back in the early 80’s. My question was always, “Why pretend to do something you can actually go out and do?” This is the story of the answer.
The short answer is, the tricks in a game like THPS2 are not things you could go out and do. And I’m not dissing your couch-potato physique. Most of the game’s gravity and injury-defying stunts would be beyond even Tony Hawk on his best day. Skating games seem to have the same relationship to actual skateboarding as DOOM does to joining the army. The skaters are like the cartoon version of the Harlem Globetrotters: impossible superheroes based on actual athletes.
Surrealism aside, the main reason to play THPS2 is that it’s fun. My total ignorance of things wheeled and whizzing makes no difference in enjoying a game of fast action, varied challenges, and numerous options. The skateboard theme inspires the many maneuvers and provides an instant audience. Still, a similar game could have been made called Laser Riders of Eta Theta Pi. Of course, then there would be no nifty jargon, a less interesting soundtrack, no pros to emulate, and fewer sponsors.
Speaking of which… THPS2 lets you play as Mr. Hawk or one of a dozen other real-life skate-TV heroes that I never heard of. Each limber youth has his or her own skillset, appearance, and sponsor. Sponsorship, in fact, saturates this game like blood through a kneepad. Stickers from skate companies adorn the courses. The appearance-design menu is excellent, but T-shirts bear only corporate logos, and every shoe style gives you make and model so you can run out to Foot Locker and imitate your virtual skater. Will target skatepunks and wannabes find the branding distasteful, as I do, or pleasingly consistent with the world of competition seen on cable?
Probably they pay it no mind and go straight to the game. Let us do likewise.