Okay, so the next incarnation of Tony Hawk’s video game has arrived. It’s not only a better version of one of the most popular Activision games of all time, but a cross between previous versions of Pro Skater and Grand Theft Auto. Actually that’s not totally true, but you can jump off your board and walk around, or jump onto buildings, and hang from wires, allowing you to explore the territory of Tony-land much more carefully.

This new version is also completely different in the initial start-up. You don’t play as one of the pro characters, but you do play as yourself in story mode. There’s even the option to upload a digital photo of yourself to the Activision Web site and then download it onto your PS2 for a fully customizable face map of yourself.

The story starts off in your hometown of New Jersey with the game progressing through the accomplishment of a set of goals, allowing you to reach the next level. In the Jersey level, your goal is to impress Chad Muska after his demo and try to obtain a shop sponsor. Of course, you always run into trouble, leading you to leave NJ and head to Manhattan. But this is only a stop on your way to the Tampa Am contest in Florida. You can kinda see a pattern here. You start off as an am looking for sponsors, you get a shop sponsor, then get picked up by a real skate team, and then what? Pro, baby. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Getting through the levels and completing the goals isn’t too difficult, but that’s what the sick difficulty mode is for. Each of the levels on “Free Skate are super fun and endless lines can be found. The game makers did a really good job of creating connecting grinds from quarterpipes to buildings to ledges, et cetera. Really, only beating the game is a small portion of the overall experience. They’ve added new tricks—pressure flips, wall plants, and acid drops—in addition to letting you create your own maneuvers, and your own set of goals.

The day Activision finally released a skateboard game was long overdue. But now the game’s really starting to progress. The next edition should be even better. If you’re a cheater and can’t play without the cheats, gamerevolution.com is always a great resource for codes—check out activision.com or thugonline.com to play the online version. Just a warning, though—you can lose days of your life playing this game.