Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is one of those titles that could really help sell the Xbox, but hearing that the first Tony Hawk game on the console was just going to be a updated version of the 2.0 release I felt a bit disappointed, especially with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 coming out on other consoles a week before the Xbox launched. So have the new graphics and extra levels managed to put up a challenge to THPS 3 on the Gamecube and PS2? Here is a quick feature list:
Installation, Settings and Loading Speeds
It doesn't take a genius to load up Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x - just pop in the DVD and then away you go, nothing more is needed. There are quite few settings to tweak in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x such as Player controls, vibration, auto kick, sound levels and music levels if you feel the need to, although I have to say that everything felt good right from the off when I started the game.
Gameplay & Controls
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x contains 24 levels - these come from both Tony Hawk's 1, Tony Hawk's 2 and 5 special new levels which have been designed specifically for the Xbox version. These new levels contain such areas as the Club and the Warehouse. Not only do we have new levels, we also have the rather groovy and improved Skatepark editor, which lets you design your own skatepark from a multitude of rails, walls, stairs etc so you're unlikely to run out of levels with this one.
In Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x you can choose to be one of 13 different skaters, I won't go through all of the names but lets just say most of you will choose to be Tony Hawk anyway. Each skater has their own set of statistics and tricks, as you play the game and build up cash you can purchase new tricks, and improve those stats so that you can improve your performance on the skate parks. If you don't want to go with one of the default skaters, you can use the improved version of the "Create-a-Skater" menu which lets you build up a skater the way you want them to be, giving them names, choose their sex etc.
Unless you are useless at skating games like myself you won't find the game too hard to control. The first level begins in a hanger and is the perfect place to start to learn the basic tricks. The tricks in the game are easy to pull off, especially now that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x seems to let you get higher into the air, allowing for some of the more showoff tricks to be performed. I felt the game was slightly easier to play on the Xbox over the PSX version, that doesn't mean the controller was better or anything like that, but I felt the gameplay has been tweaked to allow for a very slightly easier time clocking up the points.
One of the main plus points in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x is the multiplayer side, not only do you get the option of 4 player split-screen modes you also get the chance to play it over a LAN (Or over the internet if you follow some of the online guides showing you how to get it setup). The multiplayer modes are as follows:
Graphics & Sound
If there is one thing that the Xbox version of Tony Hawk has over other 2.0 versions on other consoles it is a much better graphics engine. Textures, speed and viewing distance are far better than they have been on any other Tony Hawk game so far (apart from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 that is). But just because the graphics are better it doesn't mean that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x is a showcase for the Xbox and for want of a better word, it isn't.
While the game runs at what feels like a consistent 60 Frames Per Second, comparing this to a game like Halo (30 FPS) or Oddworld just wouldn't be fair because those games look far better than Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x does. That's not to say that the game looks bad, because it certainly doesn't, it just does the job.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x, as expected, has some great sound and music, the sounds on the skatepark are almost perfect and I'm not sure how they can be improved upon. But in saying that - I guess when Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 comes out later this year I'll be shown exactly how the sound can be improved. The one thing missing from the sound side in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x is Dolby 5.1 surround sound, this isn't really a major problem for most of us, but it is something that I felt could have been added to the game.
I'm not sure how to sum this one up. What we have here is a very good port of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, with spruced up graphics, levels and sound, but then in March we have Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 on the Xbox which will again look and play quite a bit better than this version so it is hard to recommend getting this one when the new version is just around the corner.