Tony Hawk Underground takes the world-famous pro skater’s hugely successful series to the next level by going not just subterranean, but also out on the streets, on foot, in cars, on top of buildings – anything and anywhere to find somewhere to drop the board and skate. Eight massive levels are included for your explorative delectation, along with the now-familiar pounding soundtrack of guitar-heavy rock and rap. THUG is a distillation of what’s made the Pro Skater series so popular over the years, combined with some radical new features. Budding skate stars can put themselves in the game and make their way through a story with more plot twists than a Jim Thompson story. The trials and tribulations of making it as a pro skater involve working your way up the ranks, netting sponsorship deals and accruing better equipment and smarter threads as you go. THUG is the first game in which virtual skaters can use Neversoft’s face downloading and mapping technology to make an appearance in the game, and not just by entering a username. You can take a digital photo, email it to Neversoft, download the formatted file onto your PS2, and bingo! You’re in the game. Once established firmly in the game, it’s time to take stock of the massive range of options available. The Pro Skater series has always been full of tricks – literally – and THUG carries on the tradition, and then some. You can design your very own tricks in THUG, give them a name, accord them a points rating, and share them online or via memory cards. Even better than that, THUG offers you the opportunity to design your own levels. The Skate Park Editor includes houses, freeways, piers, grass, sidewalks, telephone poles, streetlights and more. Your best creations can be pasted into existing levels to liven things up a bit, and players can then personalise goals in the expanded levels and challenge others online or by exchanging memory cards. Decks can also be created and customised, or you can choose from the professional ones on offer throughout the game. There’s a host of extreme sports titles available in the early noughties, but none of them have the lure or cachet of a Tony Hawk game, save maybe the SSX series. But that’s for virtual snowboarders. Neversoft and Activision choose to keep the faith with an activity where you don’t have to climb a mountain to get your kicks. THUG means you can skate anywhere, especially if you’re willing to climb the odd building or two.