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Tony Hawk's Underground

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(All consoles; Activision; Teen)

It’s well known that pro football players often lobby John Madden to be given better moves in his franchise videogame. But when famous skaters approach Hawk, it’s usually to make sure they’re shown wearing the apparel of their appropriate corporate sponsors. Which may help explain why ”Underground” is part role-playing game in which players create (and outfit) their very own characters, joining competitive teams to party and grind their way to fame, fortune, and magazine covers. To that end, ”Underground” offers subplots and jokes galore, and a nuevo-punk soundtrack with some hip-hop flair. This is the game that many skate fans were hoping for: one that grafts the brilliant Hawk mechanics on to a fully customizable world in which they reign supreme. Just when it looked like this groundbreaking series was going to eat concrete, it pulls off an impressive landing instead.