Until Tony Hawk's came along, extreme sports games were dull. We didn't realise it at the time, but looking back, how could we have wasted our time with games that didn't allow you to get vertical on a rocket-powered lawnmower, pull air off a steaming pile of bull manure and shoot fireballs out of your skateboard? And all to the tune of Johnny Cash's mesmeric Ring Of Fire?
Indeed, it's hard to believe how much fun, stupidity and mayhem the Hawk series has managed to elicit from a four-wheeled plank, and THUG2 is the most comprehensive and inventive yet. For a start, the inclusion of Bam Margera (of Jackass notoriety) as guest star is a masterstroke. You may not be a fan of his puerile and malicious brand of humour, but it's a perfect fit for the game's anarchic ethos, and adds a strong sense of character where the clean-cut Hawk could not.
Ridiculous trick combos are still the order of the day, now bolstered with sticker slaps, post-crash tantrums and slow-mo 'focus' mode. Like THUG, you also spend a bit of time off your board, and there's a range of climbing and hanging (and graffiti tagging) actions to help you get around.
While THUG veterans might find it all a bit too familiar, it's still impossible not to enjoy - even disenchanted traditionalists are catered for with the return of Classic mode. The online game is brilliant too.
In short, it's probably the best extreme sports game ever made, the only real caveat being that it's rubbish without a decent gamepad.