Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD

As a fan of this series it’s hard to endure in its current state

By fishdalf, Posted 17 Oct 2012

I’ve been a fan of the Tony Hawk series from the very beginning, since the release of the original some thirteen years ago. It was the birth of not only a great gaming series, but paired with the X Games it helped a skateboarding craze hit its peak. Kids felt compelled to jump down their nearest set of steps, followed by the obligatory trip to the emergency room – it was a truly revolutionary time for Extreme Sports and through our controllers we felt we were experiencing a piece of it without the risk of shattered limbs.

A few impressive sequels followed that introduced new tricks and revolutionised the genre again and again up until a point somewhere after the Pro Skater suffix was dropped in favour of Underground and American Wasteland, where it wasn’t so much about the gameplay but geared more towards the outlandish and quickly lost its focus. The final straw for me was the introduction of the flimsy and gimmick-riddled skateboard peripheral in Tony Hawk: Ride that was equipped with motion sensors that were neither use nor ornament. It was clear they had ran out of ideas and with Skate on the ascendency the reign of supremacy was well and truly over.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater,  HD, Review

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD attempts to bring the series back to its roots and help us remember what made them so darn great in the first place. It’s a mash-up of the first two games, with seven of the best levels from those, including favourites Warehouse, Hangar and School II. For me though not throwing in all possible levels from both games in a remake such as this is pure laziness. You can say you want a refined game, or a best of both, but why then include a god-awful level like Mall when you could have replaced it with something like Skatestreet or even Philadelphia. It’s not like they’ve gone all out on stunning visuals or any form of advanced physicality for each, so it certainly wasn’t time constraints that prevented a wider selection from being made available.

Each level contains ten classic goals that must be completed in the allotted two-minute time frame, such as collecting SKATE letters and finding the secret tape, which has now been modernised to a DVD. There are also Pro Objectives that can be carried out on each level that introduce higher scores and COMBO letters that must be collected in a single trick sequence. Most of the goals are just as fun as they were back then, although obtaining some of the higher scores proves frustrating without the use of the revert that was introduced in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. This allowed you to string together vert tricks with grinds, manuals and such, but here you have to look for cheap ways of glitching the level by flinging yourself from random objects and hoping to land a grind in order to rack up the truly exceptional scores.

As well as the Career objectives you can also take your experience online against others, but there aren’t all that many modes to speak of. The two new modes are Big Head Survival that sees you scoring frequently to prevent your head from expanding to the point of explosion, and Hawkman that requires you to collect colour-coded balls that must be collected in a certain way, such as by grinding or wall-riding through them, with more points being awarded if you can pull off the lot in a single combo. Apart from those there isn’t a whole lot to scream and shout about and with the removal of offline multiplayer its longevity is brought into question.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater,  HD, Review

There are a tidy collection of skaters old and new, with some secret ones thrown in for good measure, including a pixelated version of the classic Tony Hawk for your nostalgic pleasure. However, a major disappointment comes from the fact that there is no option to add in your own custom skater. For me that was one of the best parts of the older games, where you would create yourself and play the games as if you were the up-and-comer. All I can think is that whoever came up with the decision to cut this feature must have been high on crack at the time. It’s baffling.

Graphically the game does an able job, bringing the game into the modern day, but with a limited skillset to choose from and the same basic level functionality as before it still feels extremely outdated. The soundtrack is still awesome, keeping the best songs from the original and throwing some new ones in there to keep it fresh. It’s a shame they didn’t take this principal and carry it on throughout the game as it would have proved a far more enjoyable experience.

In conclusion, this game is a downright disappointment and only fun in short bursts. It’s great that they decided to bring back these games in HD format, but what isn’t great is dissecting it in the nonsensical manner they have. Then on top of that they’ve completely messed the control system up so you don’t know whether you’re coming or going and it’s a constant battle not to hit into objects, those of which you don’t see coming because you cannot control the camera in the way you would like. Clunky, cluttered and clumsy would be the best way to describe it and it’s a bloody great shame if I’m honest. As a fan of this series it’s hard to endure in its current state.

Craig Bryan, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Activision
Developer(s): Robomodo
Genres: Extreme Sports
Themes: Skateboarding
Release Date: 2012-07-18

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