|Publisher: Aspyr Media Genre: Sports|
|Min OS X: Any Version CPU: G3 @ 233 MHz RAM: 32 MB 4x CD-ROM|
Remember 720degrees? That arcade game that made you collect money so you could get into different areas of a skate park to show off your skills. Does "Skate or DIE!" ring any bells? I only bring these up to say that Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 (THPS2) does have its predecessors. That said, any games that came before and all the games that will come after this genre-defining title pale in comparison to THPS2. This game transcends genres, blending sports, arcade, simulation, and console action into one slick package.
Players have the option to play as one of 12 real-life skaters, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, moves, and sponsors. Though it's satisfying to try them all, I expect most players will settle on one or two they like the most and stick with mastering them and their dizzying tricks. If you don't like the pre-set players, you can create your own skater with its own costume and style. I found mastering my own skater to be very rewarding as well.
Gamers can play a single round, multiplayer, or career mode. The career mode is straightforward. You choose a skater and are placed in a skate park with a number of goals to complete (collect a certain number of points, find a certain number of objects, perform a certain number of tricky moves, etc.). Completion of certain goals in some parks opens up other areas of that particular park. After you complete half of the goals for a park, a new park is opened to you, and you repeat the process. You occasionally participate in tournaments where your overall point rating is scored against a simulation of the other skaters in the game. For these tournaments you're rewarded medals. Collect all three gold medals for a surprise. You also collect money with which to buy upgrades to your gear, better moves, and better stats. The player can also go to the shop to adjust their trucks for fine-tuning their turning. Each level has secrets, and the player is rewarded for doing everything in the level that one can do. However, this takes time and dedication, some players may want to turn to the cheats long before each secret is revealed.
Single mode allows the player to practice moves in an open park under a time. Multiplayer has a variety of games for two players. Games like horse, and graffiti (best score on a section of park paints it - most sections your color wins), tag, and head-to-head scoring competitions. This game features very nuanced and satisfying gameplay. I'll ignore the fact that the physics model is sometimes questionable - the moves are cool enough to justify the stretch.
Playing this game on the Playstation first, then switching to a Mac keyboard layout was a little awkward at first, but after a while it became natural -- even easy. THPS2 does support alternative input, however, and having a USB control set up to emulate a Playstation controller will add to the experience of this game. (At the time of review I could not attempt the alternate controller on OS X.)
If that isn't enough, THPS2 comes with a skate park editor, enabling you to create your own parks, save them, and share them with friends. It's a game of infinite possibilities.