6 Reviews liked by andy
A victory for the business side of video games more than the creative -- its biggest achievement was getting itself out on a popular new console starved for a GTA-style game while development of the real deal, GRAND THEFT AUTO IV, took forever. The reward for their shrewd timing was popularity well beyond what they probably would have enjoyed under any other circumstances, because as a game, it's ... fine. And kind of just barely.
Everything about the structure and the gameplay is, of course, incredibly derivative, but there are a few sparks of personality. The story is super basic but probably a hair better-written that most of its contemporaries. It has a good voice cast of interesting names. The narrative throughline of gangs as dysfunctional families is at least consistent and legible. And there are a couple amusing peeks at the chaotic identity that the series would later be known for.
But other than that stuff, there's plenty here to dislike or just be bored by. The side missions are uniformly dire -- slapped together, frustrating, and worst of all, required to some degree just to unlock story missions. I'm a big completionist guy with a lot of shameful map-full-of-icons open-world 100%s on my resume (including all of this game's sequels, incidentally), and even I, having now played through this game twice, haven't ever even entertained the idea of going for it here because of how miserable it would be.
A lot of stuff in this game feels tossed off, fumbled, or poorly thought through. Occasionally it feels like the whole thing is barely hanging together. But it is playable. If you can power through the rough spots there's an engaging enough game in here, and it even has a couple effective story beats which, surprisingly, get a lot of payoff in the later games. And that, of course, is the game's real legacy -- its sequels. The direction this series would end up charting (once again, in a brilliant strategic response to what GTA was doing at the time) ultimately justifies this, and makes one thankful for the somewhat mercenary nature of its development and release.
trying to understand the many buildings vertical architecture you are walking to localize yourself and survive to the many guys shooting you. the act of shooting, itself, is an act of surviving: the one who shoots first is the one who gets to live, just like the old west. this concept of "shooting before your opponent gets the hands in his weapon" creates a cinematic experience way better than many today's cinematic shooters - probably because the one doing the scene is you, with your reflexes, paying attention to enemies animation, not the game, desperately, screaming "look at me".
listen dog im nowhere near disciplined to thoroughly master, let alone discuss, a majority of what this genre has to offer yet but if reading "I WILL NOT DIE UNTIL I ACHIEVE SOMETHING. EVEN THOUGH THE IDEAL IS HIGH, I NEVER GIVEN IN." right before being affronted with a nigh unparaphrasable barrage of bullets doesn't awaken a burning resolve within you do you really enjoy videogames?
I feel like an absolutely insane person looking at the reputation of this game because I simply did not get from it what many others seem to have for so many years.
I think I'll always prefer the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater line of Tony Hawk games, not least because of the nostalgia and emotional connection to them. I think the formula worked better when you were given a large environment with a list of goals to achieve in whichever way you pleased - it allowed for more fun, imagination, and freedom of gameplay. The introduction of a storyline was somewhat unnecessary, not that I'm going to critique the quality of the narrative considering I did not finish it. Unfortunately this story and mission based gameplay loop made for many a forgettable and often downright pointless mission, that was far more prevalent in Tony Hawk's Underground, than memorable and effective gameplay.
I also think that the controls of the player and the board in this instalment are somewhat subpar in comparison to earlier Tony Hawk games, they feel notably more clunky and hard to control, regardless of using either the D-pad or the analogue stick. I also don't like the fact that you now need to actively move the player forward, as opposed to the player moving forward automatically and giving you the ability to stop.
I don't think this is a bad game, by any measure, but it simply doesn't do what I want or expect from a Tony Hawk game, and I would much rather revisit the Pro Skater franchise for my skateboarding fix.
Also whose idea was it to introduce those God awful driving missions? This franchise was clearly not designed around driving mechanics.