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November 08, 2003


I am older than Adam Sessler. I am probably one of the oldest gamers who's not in the game industry itself. I have at least 25 friends online from XBox Live and I know only one of them is anywhere near my age. But he's the guy who runs the most reality type sims on MotoGP2 and I think he's an old fart. He hates crashing. Me, I dig a little hardcore.

This weekend, I've prompted a minor celebration of sorts. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to get a job. It's the exact job that I wanted 2 years ago just after nine-eleven when I was desiring to be a mushroom. More on that later. The celebration involved getting three XBox rentals from Blockbuster.

Tony Hawk Underground
This game is so very cool that it makes me want to learn how to skate for real. The wide open environments provide a definite improvement over the previous games. And as usual, the 'Create-A-Skater' is even cooler than The Sims for creating very realistic human avatars for the game. Only in Tony Hawk's world can I make somebody who looks very much like me.

You start off your adventure in 'New Jersey', a cross between the 'hood and the ghetto. You build your street cred by doing tricks completing tasks in a grungy locale. If you are successful in rescuing one of the locals from revenge from drug dealers by jumping over the bridge where the cops are and saving the bum's house... well it's a long story, but you do get to go to Manhattan.

The narrative makes for a cool adventure. The music is off the hook. I swear that I am hearing Acey Alone rapping in parts of the soundtrack, but I've been 'hearing' him in Jurassic 5 too, and I don't quite trust my ears. My avatar's voice is stupid and doesn't sound like any of the real gamer kids I play online, then again Tony Hawk had to keep his T rating.

The gameplay is faster than I recall from the other TH games, but the number of grind opportunities in this environment is crazy sweet. In that it's a lot more realistic than the other games. I've been playing about 5 hours and have yet to hit a Varial but I'm fast becoming a very good grinder. In a decent tribute to Jet Set Radio Future, you can grind telephone & power cables above street level which adds a very cool dimension of challenge to already grind rich areas.

The kids are loving it, and I have to say that Hawk did a very fine job of creating a total environment. But just starting off in 'New Jersey' says it all. This game has got soul.

Posted by mbowen at November 8, 2003 11:18 AM

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