Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD review
It’s hard to believe that it has been over a decade since the hallowed Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series first graced us with its superb and addictive gameplay. In the years since its inception, we have been given some outstanding sequels but also some questionable additions to the once untouchable franchise (Tony Hawk’s RIDE for example).
The best way to jump start any franchise when it’s stalled is to simply start again, and that’s exactly what we have been given with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD. Taking all of the best levels from THPS 1 and 2 and getting the series back to its roots. No gimmicks or peripherals here, just straight up skateboarding.
Just like old times
THPS HD really does excel at keeping things simple and this is not a bad thing. The gameplay here is fantastic and exactly what you would expect from the high standards set by the originals. Veteran players will quickly fall back into it and new players will not be jaded, the controls are simple and players of all skill sets will be attempting to land massive combos.
One thing that developer Robomodo has managed to capture brilliantly is the addictive career mode. You are given two minutes to complete a list of objectives; all of your old favourites make a return here such as collecting “S-K-A-T-E” and personal favourite “Ollie the magic bum”. Just the sheer satisfaction of completing some of the more tricky goals is testimony to the developer and the game itself, it really has grasped the essence of what made the originals special in that sense and is easily the games most addictive quality. You will be coming back for more every time.
As mentioned in THPS HD you will be using your skills on some of the classic levels from the first two. There is seven in total including School II, Mall and the infamous downhill jam which is without a doubt the hardest one to master. They all look great in their high definition re-mastered glory.
Not everything is perfect in this re-release and this became apparent in my first play through. The key factor missing is revert, a feature which made its way into the series in THPS 3 and became a necessity for stringing together those all important combos. You will get used to going back to the old school method of playing, and yes it will make a return in the upcoming DLC for the THPS 3 levels, but it really was a glaring omission and would have really enhanced the experience from the get go.
Graphically there isn’t really anything that could be accused of looking terrible, but occasionally you will fall victim to some of the pop up that’s become synonymous with the Unreal Engine. You might also on occasion fall through the very fabric of some levels when you bail on a trick, but it’s nothing more than a small flaw. Hey come on, it is a downloadable title after all!
Big headed highlight
The games multiplayer lets you test your skills against players from all over on Xbox Live. There are four modes here including Trick Attack, Free Skate, Graffiti and a new mode Big Head Elimination. This new mode involves getting you to pull off tricks and combos in a bid to keep your head small and intact, the longer you go without getting some points under your belt the bigger your head gets until it pops, with the last person standing the winner. I have lost a good amount of time on THPS HD online playing this refreshing and fun new mode. It is no doubt the highlight of the multiplayer section of the game.
In fact the only thing really missing in multiplayer is a local split screen mode. One of the best things of the series was being able to take on your mates in split screen, but then again it is an understandable omission with most gamers being online nowadays.
Sounds like a return to form…
THPS HD really does tick all of the boxes for fans of the series looking for a trip down memory lane, especially when it comes to the games soundtrack which has a small selection of the favourites from the originals, as well as some new tracks to mix things up a bit. It was a good move from Robomodo as the music was as much loved as the gameplay. The tracks that have been selected will not disappoint.
Ultimately this is a solid title and hopefully a good sign of things to come from the skateboarding series. Going back and starting again is a masterstroke really. It is about time that we finally get a game that just lets us skate and have some fun. No sign of attempts to jump on the Jackass bandwagon. No terrible gimmicks, just simple skating. Words really can’t describe the rush of nostalgia pulling off a 900 in Hangar with ‘No Cigar’ blaring in the background. It’s almost worth the price of the game alone and will make you realise why you loved the Tony Hawk’s series in the first place. Welcome back Tony Hawk, it’s been a while.