Graffiti, explosions, golf karts, spazzing out, Classic mode, Bam Margera and - sweet mary, mungo and midge - a Matrix-style Focus mode [draws breath]... there's just sooo much in Tony Hawk's Underground 2 we don't know whether to applaud, or squirm like nostalgic curmudgeons. While the addictive, reflex-sizzling, combo-linking core gameplay remains, it has been layered with so much frothy pizzaz - endless whacky challenges, ker-raziness and hilarious fat men on skateboards - that the finished game might feel like visiting the Tate Gallery, but spending all your time in the childrens' area twisting party balloons into [parp!] willy shapes with Keith Chegwin.
Still, developers Neversoft are a canny bunch and - playing us like a giant glockenspiel - have included a Classic mode, with two minute time limits and original challenges (collect SKATE letters, find the Secret Tape etc) like THPS3. In fact, THUG 2: World Destruction Tour is effectively two games in one, with a full-on story mode to complement the classic action. Joining up with Team Hawk, you travel the globe completing tasks and smashing shit up to out-whacky Team Bam (fronted by Jackass dude Bam Margera).
The big change is that you can recruit up to 20 new team members, including ex-US president Benjamin Franklin, or - saints above - a pink alien. Each team member has unique tricks and skills suited to specific tasks, and you can flip between characters mid-combo. The 'Destruction' bit refers to the huge amount of scenery deformation in the huuuger levels (three times the size of THUG). They're a bit like the infamous motorway collapse in the LA level of THPS3, but more frequent, and dramatically changing the architecture of the level, creating new lines, grinds and leaps.
With Jet Set Radio-style customisable graffiti, a unique vehicle per level, an enhanced Skate Park editor, revamped online play and the ability to Spazz Out post-slam, this is THUG taken to its MTV-amplified natural conclusion. Technically brilliant? Yes. Shamelessly entertaining? Certainly. Plain stupid? Most probably.
The destruction tour begins in November. Make sure you've got your best Y-fronts ready