Dale hits the nail on the head with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. I really enjoyed the original and praised it on many levels, but the game didn't have an engaging single-player mode to keep me hooked. Unfortunately, that problem hasn't changed much with the sequel. The Create-a-Skater and level editor are commendable additions that really made me want to get into this game, and I'd be lying if I told you that designing and skating in my own skate park wasn't a total blast. But conceptually the game is still too much like the original in that the single-player mode is lacking and perhaps even more outlandish and obnoxious. Completing all the stage objectives is amusing for the first couple of stages, but quickly turns to a routine chore as the levels get harder and more complex. I didn't look forward to progressing through the game because I knew goals would remain depressing the same.

Neversoft could have done a couple more things to alleviate the repetition. First and foremost, I would have immensely appreciated a free-floating 3D camera feature that would allow me to explore and get a feel for each stage before having to go against to clock. Even a "look" feature during each round would have helped. The reason being is that locating objects can be excruciatingly tough, and it was really frustrating having to repeatedly perform insanely difficult trick jumps over and over again just to reach areas and then discover that there was nothing of interest. That was one heck of a way to waste time and effort. Secondly, the additional features are good and a step in the right direction, but it's just not enough. The game still needed to be more than just completing a laundry list of goals. Perhaps putting more of a multiplayer slant on the title would have helped. Perhaps cities and areas could actually be more representative of their actual locations rather then being reformatted skate parks made to look like particular locations. Maybe the game could even be more like its own TV commercial (and Jet Grind Radio) by being about alluding law enforcement.

I don't want to complain too much because everything I praised about the original still holds true to the sequel. And had it not been for the well-crafted additions of the Create-a-Skater and level editor features, my rating would have probably dipped significantly lower. I guess its hard to blame Neversoft. The original was a runaway success and tinkering with that formula too much could be a recipe for disaster. I can't see too many gamers being disappointed with the sequel. The game is definitely successful as a solid and enjoyable title, but personally, I needed the game to take more of chance to be considered something truly amazing.

Disclaimer: This review is based on the PlayStation version of the game.

Chi Kong Lui

Chi Kong Lui

In the 1980s, Chi grew up in small town on the outskirts of New York City called Jackson Heights. Latino actor, John Leguizamo referred to the town as the "melting pot of the world," and while living there, Chi was exposed to many diverse cultures, as well as a bevy of arcade classics such as Pac-Man, Space Ace, Space Harrier and Double Dragon. Chi's love of videogames only seemed to grow as his parents finally caved and bought him an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (after being the only kid in the block without one). In the 1990s, Chi finagled his way into the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.

Somewhere between all the gaming, Chi some how managed to finish high school and get into the New York Institute of Technology. At the same time, Chi also interned at Virtual Frontiers, an Internet software consultancy where he learned the ways of HTML. Soon after acquiring his BFA, Chi went on to become the lead Web designer of the Anti-Defamation League. During his tenure there, Chi was instrumental in redesigning and relaunching the non-profit organization's Web site.

Today, Chi is the webmaster of the American Red Cross in Greater New York and somehow managed to work through the tragic events of September 11th without losing his sanity. Chi considers GameCritics.com his life's work and continues to be amazed that the web site is still standing after the recent dotcom fallout. It is his dream that GameCritics.com will accomplish two things: 1) Redefine the grammar of videogames much the same way French film critic Andre Bazin did for the art of cinema and 2) bring game criticism to the forefront of mainstream culture much the same way Siskel & Ebert did for film criticism.
Chi Kong Lui

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