Developed by Neversoft and published by games giant Activision in 2000, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 for the Sony PlayStation is the highest rated sports game to date and one of the highest rated games overall of all time. Building upon the success of its predecessor, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is a study in adding more while not losing a thing that made you successful in the first place.
A distinctly 1990’s genre, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is a skateboarding simulator that puts you in the role of a skateboarder performing tricks within a 3D environment – often including arenas, and outdoor and indoor venues.
The game’s namesake, one of the most acclaimed and successful professional skateboarders in recent history, Tony Hawk, lends the game a bit of street cred that other titles in the genre lacked but also embodies, in many ways, the game’s willingness to drop conventional for fantastic gameplay.
What this means is that the game’s physics are a bit drunk and the outlandish is favored over the pedestrian, but that doesn’t make it a wholly arcade experience as one would expect. The emphasis is on progression, not single instance scoring, the game’s well-designed and thoughtful progression system is often cited as one of its best features. The graphics are excellent for its day but probably nothing special using modern standards. What does stand out even in retrospect is the game’s awesome soundtrack. In the vein of a GTA OST, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 licenses some of the best punk and hip hop music from the year 2000 and it shows.
With a bevy of modes to choose from, including Career Mode, Free Skate, Simple Session, Multiplayer and the Level Editor, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is not light on content. Free Skate is fun if you’re trying to get your bearings and the level editor is probably best left up to people who know what they’re trying to get out of a stage. Most people will be drawn to the career mode and it is here that the game shines.
Like other games with a career mode, you build up an avatar that represents you in the skating world. Everything is quite simple and straightforward, with the difficulty gradually ramping up as you progress in your career. There’s never any real pressure to do anything, but the exhilaration you feel when you perform a series of wild tricks can’t be beat. It really is about you more than anything. As many classic games do, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 rewards mastery of its various systems.
If you’re a fan of sports games, then you probably have already played a Tony Hawk game. But if you haven’t player Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, you might want to give it a shot. Receiving nearly universal acclamation, the game still stands atop all challengers as the best of all time. And for those of us a little burnt out on the FIFA, we could stand to play something different.