Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x (2001)

I remember when Tony Hawk 2 came out. I got it on the playstation, and was blown away by it, adding so many more new levels, new skaters, and the addition of the Manual, linking combos together in a much more satisfying way. I tried going back to the playstation version, but I remembered there were a couple other versions of the game, a Dreamcast port. Also the often forgotten Tony Hawk 2X, exclusive to the Xbox, which was a port done by Treyarch and added a few new levels, and a whole extra game hidden behind an unlockable.

Nothing really changed much with the normal game, other than it was on the Xbox and looked a thousand times nicer. The visual upgrade alone is worth playing the Xbox version, as is the extra horsepower that the Xbox provided as well. The original playstation version suffers from extremely pixelated blocky textures and slowdown in many instances when racking up hundreds of thousands of points. The Xbox version removes all the muddy textures and replaces it with much higher resolutions that look absolutely beautiful, and building up a score into the millions is a snap without any slowdown.

The introduction of the manual was one of the most drastic changes to the series, and blew the doors wide open to what was possible in linking combos throughout an entire level. Even it just being the second game in the series, you can see what the manual did for the game and level layout. Now there are much more wide open spaces in levels, which would normally be utterly pointless in the original game, but now become areas to get a layout of the land and take a moment to catch your breath and really see where to keep going and what places to avoid. Being able to use the full level instead of just the ramps and grind points offers a whole new way to play the game and really does unlock its full potential of space.

While the manual did some amazing things, the game also gives a lot more freedom in the way of making progress in the game. Each level now has around 3 or 4 level specific objectives, which make them much harder if not impossible for many to complete all in a single run. Things like doing a special grind on an icon rail, or doing an ollie over a bum a few times, each level requires intimate knowledge of the entire layout. Along with the normal and Pro high scores, a newly added “Sick” score is required to 100% the level. And there is the addition of spinning dollar bills that you have to collect as well. This makes levels much larger in scale than the original game and can become tedious when trying to 100% the game with each character.

The cash that you gain from completing objectives and collecting random money can be used in three different ways. Spend money on upgrading your stats, some are basically required to get to certain areas in the game, like Ollie and Hangtime, some make your life easier like Rail and Manual balance, it’s a good way to make you feel like there is more to the game than just completing a checklist. There is also decks to unlock with cash as well, which changes the way you can land and turn. And finally there are tricks to unlock, I didn’t really spend too much time with this until I got sick of spending a long time trying to get Sick scores for all characters, being able to purchase and edit the trick list made it possible to map the special tricks to an easier combo. It’s something small, but something that really does help make 100%ing the game less frustrating.

This game offers so much more than just the normal Tony Hawk 2 game, it also has some exclusive levels, which aren’t all that great, a Dance club level that actually replaces the normal soundtrack that you’ve heard over and over again, with some generic techno music, which I didn’t mind but didn’t stand out all that much. A bit of a change is ok since it’s just one level that was exclusive to this port. The construction site feels like another level that was picked up off the cutting room floor. It doesn't have any real personality and doesn’t feel all that large, even though just like The Club, it is very vertical in it’s design. It feels like it should have been  an extra unlockable area on another level instead of it’s own.

As good as the soundtrack is, I did get bored of it after a few playthroughs of characters. I’ve heard all of these songs before multiple times, and there is a large chuck of them that I don’t really care for. That’s not to say they are bad, but my personal tastes don’t lean towards rap. I don’t think any song is truly awful, just that I’d rather not listen to them, given the chance.

The game doesn’t stop there though, after you play through the entire main game, and the extra three exclusive levels, there is also the full remade version of the first game tucked away at the back end as well. This really is the absolute best way to play the first two games (excluding the NEW Remake coming out in the Summer of 2020, not the HD remake from 2012). After I played through the entire first game a couple of weeks ago, I have this entire game down to the point where I could complete a characters’ career mode in less than half an hour. It still is fun and enjoyable without getting too tedious. It became more of a time trial than trying to see if I could finish it at all.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2x is a stellar port and really went above and beyond in delivering an amazing experience and also adding a lot of content for a launch game on the original Xbox. I’m actually bummed because I never really paid too much attention to this game, as it’s a great showing of why the Xbox was the best console that generation. It offers depth and complexity along with stunning graphics for the time versus its competitors. And even today, with all the talk of a remake, it gets lost in the discussion, as Tony HD in 2012 is the one that gets talked about.