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Tony Hawk's Underground - A Worthy Return?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the birdman-go-tweet-tweet dept.

GameCube (Games) 47

Thanks to 1UP for their review of Tony Hawk's Underground, as the extreme sports title heads into stores for its fifth iteration, and the reviewer seems to approve, mentioning that "cinematic story makes single-player fun again", as well as lauding "user-created content options", including level and animation editors, that "have massive potential." Tragically, you can only play online using the PlayStation 2 version, a major blow for Xbox Live fans, contributing to IGN's rating of the title as "a solid, if not a perfect, outing", and the conclusion: "If you're a PS2 owner, go get it. If you're anybody else, you may want to just hold that thought before diving in." Finally, GameSpot basically approve, directly countering that "most of the game's goals don't tie into the story at all", but still praising it as "another great installment."

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My thoughts (2, Interesting)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 10 years ago | (#7336468)

I think the series peaked with THPS3 -- 4 was good but it was incredibly, awfully hard, which made it just a smidgen less exciting than 3. Now this one seems like it's going to be more of the same. I liked THPS because it was a game you could pick up, play for 10 minutes or 60 minutes and have an equal amount of fun. Now, with more "RPG" (and I use that term loosely) elements throw in, you probably need to have a fair amount of time on your hands to really be able to enjoy yourself.

Now, if SSX3 hadn't come out last week, I probably would be all over this, but I can see myself spending most of my free time on that game (which is brilliant and addictive) as opposed to THUG.

Re:My thoughts (0, Troll)

Pingular (670773) | more than 10 years ago | (#7336600)

I personally liked 2, but then I'm the type of person that prefers Action Quake 2 [216.239.59.104] over Quake 3 [planetquake.com] .
I think the series peaked with THPS3
Here's the THPS3 torrent [czmb.net] , just for you.

Re:My thoughts (2, Interesting)

bozzaj (682845) | more than 10 years ago | (#7337155)

I started playing the game last night, and the RPG elements actually just make the level progression fit into a "story" instead of just "A new level has been unlocked!" In fact, you only need to finish a certain number of the objectives in Story Mode before the story continues. You can go back and finish the other objectives if you want. All in all the new story mode works extremely well.

As for THPS4 being too hard. THUG has a difficulty setting, so it'll actually be much easier for new players to jump in and not have to worry about smashing their controller in frustration.

I'm not really sure I like the "off the skateboard" stuff and the driving cars stuff, but it's really minor to get through to the next story element.

Create-a-trick is another cool feature and the Park Editor allows you to actually create goals for your own park, which makes that a bit more fun as well.

huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7337000)

no pc version this time? :(

Bought it yesterday... (1)

slusich (684826) | more than 10 years ago | (#7337088)

And I love it! It takes the ideas of THPS4 and brings it to a level that really works. Best new feature in my opinion is the difficulty level setting. It makes a huge difference in how the game plays.

Xbox owners get no loving. (2, Interesting)

Inoshiro (71693) | more than 10 years ago | (#7337279)

Activision is essentially telling its Xbox customers to fuck themselves. Yes, they put in some effort on Tony Hawk 2x (new levels, volumetric grass, custom soundtracks), but Tony Hawk 3 was a stop back (the only Xbox-ish feature was 4 player support).

Then they came out with Tony Hawk 4. At a time when every other game came with online features, Tonk Hawk 4 topped out at 2 players and no other features. Talk about lame! Additionally, despite the fact that the Xbox uses DVD9 discs, the music soundtracks are overly compressed on Tony Hawk 4, making it essentially unlistenable on a good sound setup.

THUG not having online support is just a reaffirmation that Activision doesn't care about its users. It's only supporting the Xbox because people will buy anything they put out.

Don't believe me? Read this comment [slashdot.org] that essentially says, " I think the series peaked with THPS3 -- 4 was good but it was incredibly, awfully hard, which made it just a smidgen less exciting than 3. Now this one seems like it's going to be more of the same. ... Now, if SSX3 hadn't come out last week, I probably would be all over this [THUG]" Even the people who say it's bad can't help but buy it. Way to go, Activision -- milk that franchise!

Where to put the blame (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 10 years ago | (#7338673)

Activision is essentially telling its Xbox customers to fuck themselves. [...] At a time when every other game came with online features, Tonk Hawk 4 topped out at 2 players and no other features.

That's because Microsoft won't let you develop online multiplayer games for Xbox unless you agree to let Microsoft own your customer data and host your online presence on Microsoft software [xboxsolution.com] . Activision and EA won't agree to that, so no online Xbox multiplayer. Don't like it? Blame Microsoft for acting like they have a console monopoly and can make developers agree to anything.

Then again, since you bought an Xbox and are actively supporting Microsoft's attempt to take over the video game industry, even if Activision aren't actually telling you to go fuck yourself, I'd be only too glad to.

Tinfoil hat on (2, Informative)

Mike Hawk (687615) | more than 10 years ago | (#7339002)

Dont believe the hype. If that was the reason why THUG is not Live, why did Activision add Live support to SofII, RtCW, and JK:JA and others? Think harder young one, why would a company make a game online for one system and not all systems? Why would any game come out on one system and not others?

I'm pretty sure there is nothing philosphical going on here. This has little to do with MS. Think hard about what might motivate someone...

Re:Tinfoil hat on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7339171)

drumroll please...

Sony paid them great wads of cash for online exclusivity, much like they bought exclusive european distribution rights for Beyond Good and Evil for the holiday season?

Re:Tinfoil hat on (1)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 10 years ago | (#7339381)

Dont believe the hype. If that was the reason why THUG is not Live, why did Activision add Live support to SofII, RtCW, and JK:JA and others?

It's not Activision that didn't put online support in THUG, it was Activistion O2, their sports games subsidiary.
Activision and Activision O2 are two wholly different entities when it comes down to final decisions. Just as EA and EA Sports, Blizzard and Blizzard North, and (to get out of the gaming world) Sony (the makers of consumer electronics like MP3 players) and Sony Music (the recording company who, in conjunction with the RIAA et.al. is fights to make MP3s illegal).
Take off your tinfoil hat, it's affecting your ability to think.

Re:Tinfoil hat on (1)

Mike Hawk (687615) | more than 10 years ago | (#7339960)

Maybe my copy is different than your's smart guy. Mine doesn't say Activision O2 on it anywhere. Neither does their website. [activision.com] In fact, good luck finding a current reference to O2 anywhere. Have fun!

And since you really don't know what you are talking about, O2 was never a seperate entity, it was a brand, just like EA Big. Im sorry, your answer is incorrect, please try again later.

Re:Where to put the blame (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7340390)

That's because Microsoft won't let you develop online multiplayer games for Xbox unless you agree to let Microsoft own your customer data and host your online presence on Microsoft software [xboxsolution.com]. Activision and EA won't agree to that, so no online Xbox multiplayer. Don't like it? Blame Microsoft for acting like they have a console monopoly and can make developers agree to anything.

I'm not sure why Activision doesn't support online play in one game and not another (though I'd imagine cash has something to do with it), but EA doesn't support Live play because Microsoft won't let EA have customer data so that EA can sell it. Remember that it wasn't too long ago that EA was ready to shut down online support for all of their games, excepting UO (which obviously brings in a monthly subscription to support it), because they were losing money hand over fist. Now, all of a sudden (in the last couple of years) they want to run the online portion of all of their games for themselves. Why do you think that is?

Some high points from EA's Privacy Policy (and their terms of service refer directly to the privacy policy) include the following:
If you register to become a member of EA.com (our online games service), and you are 18 years of age or older, your email address is also provided to our partner, America Online, Inc. and you are automatically registered for an AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) Account... As with all third party sites, Electronic Arts does not control AOL's privacy policies and practices. We urge you to review AOL's privacy policy at www.aol.com.

From time to time, we are approached by companies and organizations that provide products or services that we believe may be of interest to you, and we may provide your personal information to such third parties. We see this as a value-added service helping you to find useful products or services. We strive to limit use of the information you provide to those offers that we think you would appreciate receiving. You may opt out of this service. See the opt out information below.

We may use survey information in marketing surveys to select and direct advertising that is more likely to be of interest to a particular member. This information may be transmitted to an ad server owned by the advertising company (for example, on pogo. com, this is DoubleClick) to match members with ads that they are more likely to be interested in. However, we do not disclose any member's personal information to our advertisers without the member's consent. Participation in member surveys is entirely optional. We may share aggregate consumer data (which does not contain personal information) with the advertising companies.

and so on. To say the least, EA found out that they could sell information, which keeps their online efforts afloat. Microsoft may also sell data (I'm certainly not saying they don't), but the reason EA wouldn't release games for the XBox that play online is because Microsoft would not give customer data to EA, whereas EA is perfectly happy giving customer data to just about anyone (though you can opt out of most of it except for giving information to AOL Time Warner).

Additionally, with Nintendo taking the same hands-off policy (in other words, they don't do anything but provide the adapter) on internet play that Sony initially took, why is it that EA's games don't support their system online?

Either it's nearly impossible to get a GameCube game online (possible, but unlikely, given that PSO exists and there are an increasing number of LAN games for the Cube) as a developer, or EA has monetary incentives to keep online gaming exclusive to the PS2 beyond just their selling of customer information.

Jeff Gerstmann (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7338540)

Here's a guy who gave THPS3 a 10 out of 10. Now.. that game was a pretty good game at the time.. but with how often gamespot gives out 10s, no way did it deserve that honor. I'm shocked that he gave the latest installment a fair grade.

Personally, I prefer... (2, Funny)

JimR (101182) | more than 10 years ago | (#7338717)

...Tony Hawks [tony-hawks.com] .

And so it seems do a lot of other people.

Re:Personally, I prefer... (1)

Tantrum420 (312608) | more than 10 years ago | (#7352815)

From the site:

"Tony Hawk is an American whizz kid skateboarding champion, whilst I am a startlingly good-looking British male model. So why the confusion?"

"Yet, each week I receive e mail from young people from all over the world congratulating me on my skateboarding prowess and asking advice on how to do various manoeuvres."

Hmm... Apparently this guy doesn't realize that Tony Hawk is over 35 years old...

\Tant

Where is my Live? (1)

AlexMax2742 (602517) | more than 10 years ago | (#7338744)

Seriously Activision, the joke's not funny anymore. Lack of Xbox Live support was the reason I never bought THPS4. Until then, I'll just have to make do with Xbox Connect and System Link, but you guys have got to straighten out your differences with Microsoft before THUG 2 comes out.

Actually, maybe they were throwing System Link as a bone...honestly, how many people do you know have their own copy of THUG for XBox? Or THPS4? Or hell, even THPS3 or THPS2x? Enough for a LAN party? Or do you get sidetracked with Halo like all of my LAN partys do? 8 Players over XBC seems much more likely.

I love how they are constatnly evolving the Park Editor though. I was lost in the THPS2 editor for hours at a time, but the whole feel of the THPS3 editor was....well...it was kinda lazily thrown in as an afterthought and wasn't using the full potential of the new engine. I tried out the THUG editor last night, and it was like the THPS3 editor except that it had all the pieces I had dreamed about (FINALLY, ROADS! WOO HOO, now I can make my own suburbia!). Not to mention all the other create a whatevers in this game. And getting off the board is like a free few seconds of an manual you don't need to balance. Brilliant (now if only they could make the controls better...).

Anyway...off my soapbox, back to game.

:-D I'm buying (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 10 years ago | (#7338789)

Personally I am not upset at the xBox getting screwed. while Microsoft might have made a nice system, its licensing practices blow, and unlike PC companies who dont mind bending over and getting Bill's little Bill, the game manufacturers, knowing that they have two other perfectly viable systems out there have no problem saying, screw you.

It's kinda nice to see people feel what its like to be a mac user too :-).

Re::-D I'm buying (1)

superultra (670002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7339912)

Give me a break, and return to your linux.slashdot.org section. The main reason why companies are not supporting XBL is that they don't have complete control over the cost. At some point in the very near future, EA, Activision, and [insert game company here] will start charging $5 a month to play their games. They can't do that as easily if someone is already paying $6 a month for XBL.

I'm sorry. Dislike Microsoft PC all you want or make fun of their crappy first party games and you'll hear nothing from me. There's plenty to dislike about the Xbox. But if you dislike XBL, it's only because you haven't seen it in action. It's heads and tails above anything the PS2 can do, and in many ways is revolutionary for what it has accomplished. In fact, much of the PS3 online structure will almost exactly resemble Microsoft's. Surprise. It's not as if Sony is some mom and pop shop like Nintendo. They're a monopoly unto themselves, it's just they played their cards smarter than MS did.

Re::-D I'm buying (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 10 years ago | (#7340058)

not exactly, XBL is actually a huge copy of Sony's PlayOnline in Japan, which is what the PS3's online structure is...

And guess what, PlayOnline has been around much longer than the XBox

Re::-D I'm buying (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#7341951)

It's really not cool to correct someone with wrong information. PlayOnline is NOT a Sony product and is instead a Square [Enix] creation created initially for Final Fantasy XI and will cover future Square online-enabled projects.

"And guess what," PlayOnline has been around since 2002 - before Xbox Live (not by that much) but not "much longer than the Xbox."

Re::-D I'm buying (1)

superultra (670002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343774)

Can you provide me with a link backing that up? The way I understood PlayOnline, it was initially a hintbook attachment system. I can find plenty of Japanese links, but I'd like to read something about that in English.

Re::-D I'm buying (1)

unclethursday (664807) | more than 10 years ago | (#7352206)

But if you dislike XBL, it's only because you haven't seen it in action.

I have seen it in action. Many times. I won't say I dislike it, per say, but I will say I grow bored of it rather quickly. Supposedly Crimson Skies is real good on Live, though, so I'll try and rent it next week and see.

It's heads and tails above anything the PS2 can do, and in many ways is revolutionary for what it has accomplished.

Revolutionary? Stat tracking and VOIP is revolutionary? Hardly, been done for a good long while on the PC. Hell, the Dreamcast had VOIP in a dial-up game as well I forget the name of the title). The universal friends list is nice, but hardly much different than having some sort of IM client installed and getting friends together on the PC.

It's not as if Sony is some mom and pop shop like Nintendo.

So a company that's been around over 100 years and has billions in the bank is a mom and pop shop? I'd hate to see your thoughts on a startup company.

Thursdae

Re::-D I'm buying (1)

AlexMax2742 (602517) | more than 10 years ago | (#7342404)

Personally I am not upset at the xBox getting screwed. while Microsoft might have made a nice system, its licensing practices blow, and unlike PC companies who dont mind bending over and getting...

It's so easy to say when you dont have one. :(

Wha...? (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 10 years ago | (#7338794)

Tony Hawk's Underground?

I didn't even know he was dead.

An educated opinion... (1, Interesting)

TheSwink (720021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7339997)

So, I'm a designer at Neversoft. A couple thoughts: "Activision is essentially telling its Xbox customers to fuck themselves" Well, not really. As observed above, it's Microsoft's stringent Live guidelines that are preventing you from having your THUG online. Basically, we (Neversoft) refused to compromise on two points: 1. People should have to pay extra to play Tony Hawk online (players pay Microsoft for the privilege of accessing our online vault!?) and 2. Microsoft's Live 'guidelines' mandate certain things, some of which overlap with our online features. And, from a pragmatic standpoint, having our game be Live compatible means an entirely separate submission process for us, meaning the Xbox version would probably ship later than the other two. On reviews: The problem we're having with reviews, from my perspective, is the same across the board. THUG is larger and deeper than any console game has ever been. Now, I don't mean that as a blaring note on my own trumpet; THUG's size is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, anyone who invests in the game could probably play it for a month without running out of things to discover. The downside: effectively reviewing the game in a short time is nigh impossible. Some reviewers see the good (1up); some see the bad (Gamespot). This is not a problem particular to THUG; it's a problem with game criticism as a whole. A single player can only ever offer his or her own experience with a particular game. As a designer you accept that, and you accept responsibility for every player's experience when playing your game. The frustrating part is that a game like THUG is that it must be designed with the assumption that people will invest a lot of time in it. This is not an unreasonable assumption considering the history of the series but it's frustrating as a designer because it means that people can't just pick up your game and have fun with it (see also: game critics). They have to be in it for the long haul. I believe it was Jonathan Baron who observed that playing a game is like reading a novel; you invest much more time and effort than in something like a film or television program and are consequently rewarded with a richer, deeper, and more fulfilling experience (pardon my lazy paraphrasing.) That said, I also think that it's unreasonable to ask an underpaid hobbyist to spend more than a few hours with your game before giving his or her impressions of it. What I don't think is unreasonable is asking said critic to update that review at some point. Now, I agree that playing a game is much more like reading a novel than watching a movie but I think where the analogy falls short is in the relationship between time invested and mastery, specifically in how predicable that relationship is. When you buy a novel you know that regardless of how quickly you read, reading the contents of each page means that you've finished that book. Not so with games (I'm assuming we're talking about reasonably designed games here, not the dregs.) They offer a different experience each time you sit down to play and they're self-canonizing: the more you play, the more learn about the game and the more skilled you become. The better you are at a game, the more fun it is to play. I usually avoid making generalizations but that one is universally true. You must master a game to unlock its full enjoyment potential and must therefore master it to effectively understand and critique it. For example, I've seen quite a few reviews mention the runout/walking addition in passing, as though it really has no effect on gameplay. Forsooth! When mastered it redefines the gameplay. It's an entirely new verb. On the roadmap of Tony Hawk gameplay innovations it lies somewhere between manual and spine transfer, meaning it radically redefines the way in which you play the game. If you've only played the game for a short while this is not readily apparent, especially if you're playing the game the same way you played Tony 4. The runout is basically an infinite backdoor clause to any combo: used effectively it can bail you out of any bad situation you find yourself in while comboing. You can jump off a rail, run out, turn around, and hop back on the same rail going the opposite direction. These are the kinds of things a reviewer will (and has, apparently) miss. Anyhow, that became a rant with frightening speed. It's amazing how personal a review of something you've spent so much time and energy working on can get. Feel free to email me. Swink

Re:An educated opinion... (0)

TheSwink (720021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7340020)

Sucks...no formatting for me! What's up with that?

Re:An educated opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7340243)

Are you telling the whole truth about why it is not Live enabled? You wouldn't be lying to us now you "designer at Neversoft?" Lying to the public would be bad.

Because I am a big fan of the series and own an XBOX, I checked this out on the Activision Customer support page: [custhelp.com]

Question
Why is the game not available for Xbox Live?
Answer
Activision and Neversoft have entered into an exclusive co-marketing arrangement with Sony whereby we will be cross-promoting Tony Hawk's Underground for the PlayStation 2 online through national advertising and promotional launch activities. Additionally, Xbox Live's downloadable content controls would make it difficult to allow consumers to import their own face into the game.

(Bolding is mine) Care to tell us more about this "exclusive co-marketing arrangement"? You failed to mention this in your post there. Is this the kind of arrangement wherein Sony pays you a bunch of money not to put the game on Live and this results in them being able to market this fact? I call bullshit. Rebuttal?

Re:An educated opinion... (1)

TheSwink (720021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7340403)

Don't listen to anything Activision says. The decision not to support online play was ours, not theirs. They own our studio but they have very little influence over our products.

"Activision and Neversoft have entered into an exclusive co-marketing arrangement with Sony whereby we will be cross-promoting Tony Hawk's Underground for the PlayStation 2 online through national advertising and promotional launch activities."

That's lipservice to Sony and has little or nothing to do with us, same as all advertising. And, if you read what you bolded you'll notice that it says Sony and Activision are cross-promoting the Ps2 version of the game using online advertising. That has nothing to do with online play, and nothing to do with the Xbox version of the game. It also says nothing about sony paying anyone anything. Cross-promotion means Sony and Activision both want to sell lots of copies of the Ps2 version of the game so they're combining some portion of their marketing budget.

Re:An educated opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7340569)

How big a shovel you got there, cause the hole just keeps getting bigger. Did you actually type "Don't listen to anything Activision says."? Tell me you were laughing when you wrote it. So now I am not to believe "a designer at Neversoft" or Activision?

Its up to you to prove to me that no money changed hands to form an "exclusive co-marketing agreement". Calling your parent company a liar sounds like someone trying to cover their ass as quickly as possible, not the truth.

Re:An educated opinion... (1)

TheSwink (720021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7340698)

Are you even reading what I'm posting or just trying to bait me?

I'm a game designer at Neversoft, a game studio owned but not operated by Activision, a game publisher. The decision no to support Online play for Xbox was made but us, the creators of the game. And if you'd read what I posted instead of hitting 'reply' after the first line you'd see that that the point I was making when I said not to listen to Activision was that they don't make those decisions, we do. Nowhere do I call them liars. You'd also see that you'd misread the Activison site to begin with.

Exclusive co-marketing agreement means that Activision and Sony have an agreement whereby they will collaborate to market the Ps2 version of THUG. I don't know how else to spell it out for you. Why would money change hands when they're working towards the common goal of selling software? Both make a profit when someone buys a Ps2 version of THUG so it's in their interests to market it.

I suggest you carefully read what you've posted and my responses then think about whether you actually think there's some sort of conspiracy against you or if you're just mad because you don't get to play Tony Hawk online.

On that note, I'm sorry that you're not able to play the game online. If you're that upset about it, take it up with Microsoft. They're the ones who made Live a paying service and set up the prohibitive guidelines.

Swink

An educated opinion... (5, Insightful)

TheSwink (720021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7340239)

So, I'm a designer at Neversoft. A couple thoughts:

"Activision is essentially telling its Xbox customers to fuck themselves"

Well, not really. As observed above, it's Microsoft's stringent Live guidelines that are preventing you from having your THUG online. Basically, we (Neversoft) refused to compromise on two points: 1. People should have to pay extra to play Tony Hawk online (players pay Microsoft for the privilege of accessing our online vault!?) and 2. Microsoft's Live 'guidelines' mandate certain things, some of which overlap with our online features. And, from a pragmatic standpoint, having our game be Live compatible means an entirely separate submission process for us, meaning the Xbox version would probably ship later than the other two.

On reviews:

The problem we're having with reviews, from my perspective, is the same across the board. THUG is larger and deeper than any console game has ever been. Now, I don't mean that as a blaring note on my own trumpet; THUG's size is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, anyone who invests in the game could probably play it for a month without running out of things to discover. The downside: effectively reviewing the game in a short time is nigh impossible. Some reviewers see the good (1up); some see the bad (Gamespot). This is not a problem particular to THUG; it's a problem with game criticism as a whole.

A single player can only ever offer his or her own experience with a particular game. As a designer you accept that, and you accept responsibility for every player's experience when playing your game. The frustrating part is that a game like THUG is that it must be designed with the assumption that people will invest a lot of time in it. This is not an unreasonable assumption considering the history of the series but it's frustrating as a designer because it means that people can't just pick up your game and have fun with it (see also: game critics). They have to be in it for the long haul.

I believe it was Jonathan Baron who observed that playing a game is like reading a novel; you invest much more time and effort than in something like a film or television program and are consequently rewarded with a richer, deeper, and more fulfilling experience (pardon my lazy paraphrasing.) That said, I also think that it's unreasonable to ask an underpaid hobbyist to spend more than a few hours with your game before giving his or her impressions of it. What I don't think is unreasonable is asking said critic to update that review at some point.

Now, I agree that playing a game is much more like reading a novel than watching a movie but I think where the analogy falls short is in the relationship between time invested and mastery, specifically in how predicable that relationship is. When you buy a novel you know that regardless of how quickly you read, reading the contents of each page means that you've finished that book. Not so with games (I'm assuming we're talking about reasonably designed games here, not the dregs.) They offer a different experience each time you sit down to play and they're self-canonizing: the more you play, the more learn about the game and the more skilled you become. The better you are at a game, the more fun it is to play. I usually avoid making generalizations but that one is universally true. You must master a game to unlock its full enjoyment potential and must therefore master it to effectively understand and critique it.

For example, I've seen quite a few reviews mention the runout/walking addition in passing, as though it really has no effect on gameplay. Forsooth! When mastered it redefines the gameplay. It's an entirely new verb. On the roadmap of Tony Hawk gameplay innovations it lies somewhere between manual and spine transfer, meaning it radically redefines the way in which you play the game. If you've only played the game for a short while this is not readily apparent, especially if you're playing the game the same way you played Tony 4. The runout is basically an infinite backdoor clause to any combo: used effectively it can bail you out of any bad situation you find yourself in while comboing. You can jump off a rail, run out, turn around, and hop back on the same rail going the opposite direction. These are the kinds of things a reviewer will (and has, apparently) miss.

Anyhow, that became a rant with frightening speed. It's amazing how personal a review of something you've spent so much time and energy working on can get.

Feel free to email me.

Swink

Re:An educated opinion... (1)

Merk (25521) | more than 10 years ago | (#7340677)

As a designer, is this game fun for people with human reflexes?

I liked the other Tony Hawk games, don't get me wrong. They were fun, but frustrating. Doing more than say two tricks in the air seemed to require coordination and reflexes that nobody I knew had. And if you wanted to get anywhere in the game, you had to be able to do more than 2 tricks in a row.

I suppose I probably could have learned to do these types of tricks if I played the game for months on end, but what's the fun in that? It was fun for the first few days, but I didn't want to go into full "training" mode for a week just so I could unlock the next park.

If you're going to convince me the game is worth buying, and worth spending time with, you'll have to convince me that the gameplay doesn't require reflexes and coordination that I (and most people I know) don't have.

Re:An educated opinion... (1)

TheSwink (720021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7341571)

That was one of our cheif concerns in designing THUG: how to cater to the largest possible audience. As a designer that's a bit sucky because you run the risk of having the game feel watered down, but on a retail game it's more or less a necessity. Our solution this time was to add four difficulty levels that even go so far as to modify the physics of the game, hopefully making it fun for almost anyone. On the lowest difficulty setting my Mom was able to get through the first couple levels so I think it's safe to say it shouldn't pose a problem for many gamers ;).

Re:An educated opinion... (1)

Merk (25521) | more than 10 years ago | (#7348099)

Sure, but your mom can do a backside 540 shove-it and hack DOD servers. ;)

I pretty much agree... (2, Interesting)

BenSnyder (253224) | more than 10 years ago | (#7341550)

Swink,

A few thoughts from a long time fan of the series, owner of the game (picked it up last night) and current frustrated customer with the Activision server that's currently tanking and breaking the "your face in the game" feature.

First, I picked it up for the ps2 but I own all 3 next-gen systems. I hear ya on your reasoning not to be Live compatible but as a gamer, I have just one response: I'm already paying for Live. If the choice is between no online play or subscribing to Live, consider myself subscribed. If it's signing up to Live AND to some Tony Hawk service, that'd be too much. For example, I own several versions of Phantasy Star Online for the DreamCast, Gamecube, etc. I haven't and won't pay to play it online. I've taken their freebie month but that's it. The cost of Live, I've gotten over. I've made that plunge. So from my perspective, Neversoft is really more concerned with your second reason for not releasing a Live enabled version. I'm cool with that, just don't pretend to be protecting me. I don't feel protected. But wanting to protect the brand or whatever, I get.

As for game reviews, I tend to agree with you. I thought about what a douche bag the IGN reviewer was for saying that the running aspect was hard to control. He must not have read the hint on screen or the hint in the manual that the d-pad makes dude walk and the right analog stick makes dude run. What a douche. So we know that his review is *total* bullshit.

My solution for reviewers would be for them to admit how much they played the game. I've had many experiences in the franchise modes of various current football titles that revealed to me problems or bugs that no reviewer mentioned. But you'd have to be fairly deep in a season to find them. So, boom, right up front. Time spent playing: 5 hours. Highest level achieved: Manhattan. That's all it'd take.

I don't imagine that people really think every reviewer finishes every game. So finishing a game obviously isn't a requirement for reviewing a game. As such, it shouldn't be embarrassing to say how much time went into the source material they're reviewing. In the absence of it, we're left to believe that the guy at IGN really is a douche bag and isn't just spending 10 minutes with a preview copy.

My quick thoughts on the game: THPS2x was probably the high water mark for the series in my mind. This is the best game in the series since that one. It might change again as I play more, but right now, I see it as being more fun than 3 and 4. And being able to run around has totally opened up the game.

Re:I pretty much agree... (2, Interesting)

TheSwink (720021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7341799)

I didn't know the server was tanked, last I'd heard it was up. Hopefully the usage will level out a bit after the inital push, though it's likely we'll add servers to meet demand.

As far as the Live subscription goes, the concern was primarily for the users who aren't subscribed to Live but who want to play Tony Hawk online. That said, it could be argued (and I did) that anyone who'd want to play THUG online would probably already be a subscriber. So, you're not really in that demographic, being a subscriber. But, being a subscriber you have to appreciate that there the majority of Xbox owners aren't Live subscribers. Either way that was probably the least important of the reasons behind the decision.

The IGN review was actually pretty funny...at the end he talks about 'shopping cart racing' which doesn't actually exist in the game. I wonder what game he was reviewing... ;)

I like your idea about having the game critic be up front about exactly how much they've played each game they review. I think the reason that they don't is that there would be major outcry if people realized how little critics actually play games they review. My perfect review system would include an ongoing blog-style review of a game with a running tally of how much the critic has played the game included in each post. I also think that games as a medium are fundamentally subjective and therefore shouldn't be boiled down to a numeric score, but that's a different rant alltogether ;).

The runout does extend the life of combos past what they were in THPS4 but it does have a constraint, the timer. I won't tell you that it doesn't effect the gameplay pretty radically but in essence it's just another state to transfer to to keep a combo alive, like vert/grind/manual. I guess we'll see how radically it effects scores etc when the scoreheads really go to town.

Swink

Re:I pretty much agree... (1)

BenSnyder (253224) | more than 10 years ago | (#7342002)

Just for the hell of it, I wanna tell you that the most fun I've ever had with the series was with the demo for the first game on the Dreamcast. Me and a friend took turns competiting to see how high we could score after we got all 5 tapes before time ran out.

The particular way we played the demo forced you to be a good trickster but also efficient in which lines you ran to hit the boxes, get S-K-A-T-E, etc. The benefit the demo had over the real game was the ability to redo that level from the beginning over and over...

One question about the online thing. Do you (or Neversoft) think that the backlash from non-Live subscribers who are Xbox owners and want to play games online but won't subscribe to Live is great enough to deprive everybody even the opportunity to play the game online (without going out and buying a ps2)?

Maybe I'm not around enough cynical gamers, but I haven't heard anybody say "so and so put their games on Live? What assholes!" By the same token, I've heard plenty of people say "EA wouldn't put Madden on Live? What assholes!", for example. So why go antagonizing the vocal hardcore userbase when it's obvious that nobody from the other side would have said anything?

I dunno. I personally think that it was probably done for business reasons. I work in the music industry, and you know how logical our own decision making process can be. So it wouldn't surprise me if some of the same kind of wonky thinking went on somewhere down the line.

And one more story, since I'm telling stories. That same friend I played the Tony Hawk demo with now has a 5 year old son who loves playing THPS 2 & 3. He's consistently pulling 100,000+ in The Hanger on 2. Not bad for being five. :)

I'm looking forward to showing him THUG this weekend.

Re:An educated opinion... (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#7342261)

Xbox Live Response:

1. If you mean people are paying for Xbox Live, so what? Anyone who is playing Xbox Live-enabled games has already paid for it anyway. If you mean paying extra for access to something extra, that's easy: Just allow people to connect and play online. If we can't put our own face in the game, most of us won't consider that a crisis of epic proportions.

2. You really need to elaborate on point 2. If you're complaining about the fact that Xbox Live has an online framework in place with which you would have to comply, that's an odd thing to complain about..."Gee, they've already done all this work for us and we hate them for it" or "Oh darn, now we don't have to set up our own matchmaking service for Xbox players."

"Pragmatic standpoint": Guess what. People are generally willing to wait for a full-featured game. Xbox owners had to wait for both 2[x] and 3 and as I recall those sold rather well. Gamers tend to be very understanding about delays when they're told that they'll be getting a good game because of it...Not to mention the fact that Xbox Live is NOT a new thing. You've had this game in development for quite a while and XBL has been "live" for a year now. That would seem to be enough lead time to add the feature and accomplish testing in a timely fashion.

In short, while I wouldn't accuse Neversoft of malicious intent in not offering Xbox Live support, it's pretty easy to accuse you of being lazy and uncaring on the issue.

Sidenote: I enjoyed THPS4 quite a lot and it's entirely likely that I'll buy THUG for Xbox since I don't consider a lack of online play to be a critical factor in this kind of game. I just don't like lame excuses.

Re:An educated opinion... (2, Interesting)

TheSwink (720021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7342877)

Eh, that's a bit trollish. Point 1: as I said, not a huge factor in the decision, just a contributing factor. Mostly, management objects to players having to pay Microsoft to play Tony Hawk. Also, note that Microsoft does not allow any online Xbox play that doesn't use Live. Point 2: Live does not work with our code. It's easy to say things like "Live has an online framework in place with which you would have to comply, that's an odd thing to complain about..." if you're not the one that has to make it work. Essentially what you're talking about is a complete rewrite of our netcode to accommodate Live, leaving us with two entirely separate code bases to debug and maintain. We have one net programmer. You do the math. Guess what, people expect their Tony Hawk game at Christmas. Every Christmas. And know that the mandate that enforces that ship date comes from the people who employ us: it's not up for discussion. Also, you can be as upset as you want but it's ridiculous to call anyone at Neversoft lazy. I've no idea what you do for a living but I'd wager it doesn't include working 18-hour days for three months. The bottom line is that Neversoft is the only company that can make a game of such size and quality in one year. If I didn't care, why did I post in the first place? We've been saying from the beginning we weren't going to support Live play, I don't know why everyone's so riled. If it mattered so much Live users could have rallied for support back when the game was early in development. No one seemed to care. If you want excuses, look elsewhere. I'm giving you reasons, take them or leave them. Swink

Re:An educated opinion... (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343507)

You're right. I shouldn't be so critical. I mean it's not like Tony Hawk games are huge money-makers like Midnight Club 2 (networking on both PS2 and Xbox Live), Phantasy Star Online (networking on both Gamecube and Xbox Live) or Castle Wolfenstein (networking on both PS2 and Xbox Live), and thus are able to support multiple networking schemes. I don't know what I was thinking!

Now THAT is a troll. :-)

Re:An educated opinion... (1)

TheSwink (720021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343728)

Hahah...indeed.

The one thing I would point out is that the core tech for those those were all more recently developed, had way longer development cycles, and in (in the case of PSO) had their online component as a major selling point.

But, as you said, you're not interested in playing THUG online anyway ;).

Re:An educated opinion... (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343912)

But, as you said, you're not interested in playing THUG online anyway ;).

Exactly. It was my hope that by mentioning that I would make it clear that I was offering an academic argument as opposed to complaining about your game in particular (though my "lazy and uncaring" comment was over the line by that measure).

I'm simply an advocate of the idea that console games (especially beyond FPS games) should be placed online whenever possible, especially when their competitive elements are compelling. Tetris is much maligned (to the point that it's the butt of its own joke) but it's a game that should always have online capability because multiplayer Tetris is fun. Had this particular discussion been about SSX3, which is also a "trick game" that has online capability on the PS2 and not on the Xbox, I would be similarly taking EA to task - not because I have an all-consuming need to play multiplayer SSX but because in my opinion there's no good reason not to do it unless they're going to charge bucks for SSX3 matchmaking.

Of course, I'm also of the opinion that the video game market is such that it can support multiple consoles, an opinion which Activisition/Neversoft, EA and the rest seem to share since every third-party company develops for multiple consoles. If that's true, it seems like a bad message is sent when features are left off one version and included on another despite comparable technical ability (in other words, if both PS2 and Xbox CAN do Internet then the two versions should be feature-equivalent).

Note: Yes, Gamecube fans, I left that console out because Nintendo has little to no interest in pushing online play. If a console company can't even bother to make their own games online-compatible, I'm not going to get mad at developers who follow suit.

In any case, I appreciate the conversation and, despite my irritation, I can understand to some extent Neversoft's decision not to include Xbox Live compatibility and I certainly don't hate your company - in fact, considering it's the fifth time dipping into the Tony Hawk well, I consider it a minor miracle that none of the sequels have been rehashed crapfests and that each has been upgraded enough to make fans happy. I would only close by suggesting that you folks think hard about making it happen for the next iteration of the series. It would be a shame if people jumped off a good series because they think y'all hate Xbox users.

Peace!

Re:An educated opinion... (1)

swaben (575404) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343674)

Is this game coming out for PC? I sure hope so!

I don't want to have to buy a xbox.

Re:An educated opinion... (1)

unclethursday (664807) | more than 10 years ago | (#7352421)

I think another thing people are missing in their arguments about not supporting Xbox Live is the fact that Neversoft and GameSpy have been working on getting the THPS netcode working better and better with each version.

There were some hiccups in THPS3's networking that could affect gameplay, but many of those were ironed out for THPS4. It's probably safe to assume THUG has ironed out some of the bugs from THPS4's netcode as well (I haven't taken it online yet, going through story mode first).

Also, as you mentioned before, there's the fact that Microsoft is very strict about no game being allowed to be truly online on the Xbox without going through Xbox Live. So even if Neversoft had wanted to just put it in there, and go through GameSpy, Microsoft would not allow the game to be released on the Xbox like that, and would demand that if it went online it would go through Xbox Live.

I can understand not having it online on the GameCube, because of so few adapters sold for it; but since Sony and Nintendo basically have the same hands off approach, techically it shouldn't be too hard to put online capabilities into the GC version. It's not like Nintendo would say no to it...but they probably wouldn't advertise the online aspect very much themselves, and force Activision to advertise the online part all by themselves.

While I have all 3 consoles, I always get THPS on the PlayStation consoles, since it was really designed around that controller. I also like the online play on my PS2, but the biggest thing is control, you know; and niether the Xbox or GC controller really control the THPS games as accurately as the PS controllers do.

Thursdae
(somewhat) Part of the Delphi Crew under another name.

Bah (1)

ElleyKitten (715519) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367533)

THUG is a stupid name. Like I'ld ever tell anyone I'm buying the game "THUG". Shortening names is good and all but not if they're stupid.

Above are my opinions.. (1)

TheSwink (720021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7389868)

...and in no way constitute the views of Neversoft, Activision, or anyone but myself. All my information is hearsay and is in no way verifiable or documented and should not be construed as any sort of offical word from Neversoft, Activision, or Microsoft. Sorry for any confusion.
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