Published on July 20th, 2012 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Review
Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Price: 1200 MS Points
Review Notes: A game token was received for review purposes.
Skateboarding was in its modern prime when Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater originally released. The 900 wasn’t something casually flung at an X-Games showing, but rather, a feat for a generation to witness. This was also the time when the sport hit a peak and no one could have guessed the outcome of a newly introduced skateboarding game.
A few games tackled the sport in a shoddy half-hearted effort, but a mixture of music and pro skaters brought this skate game out of the amateur ranks.
Much like its predecessors, the game primarily focuses on combos and stringing tricks together for a killer score. There are also plenty of obstacles and goals to achieve aside from getting icky-gnar-gnar on that kinked rail. The level layouts are true to their originals, some level goals even being set in the same location. While the terrain is highly familiar, don’t think they’ve gotten any easier. And, for newbies out there, it should at least give them a challenge worth playing for.
Graphically, the game accomplished what it set out to fulfill. The levels look amazing in their newly fitted HD digs. Such locations as the School have a brightly emphasized paint job and detailed a-hole officer making his rounds. The Hangar couldn’t look any better if it tried; it has a better infused military feel and the chopper is still a killer ornament to the level.
I remember looking back to the concept art from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2, (yeah, I can remember back that far) and thinking how great these levels would be, particularly because the Dreamcast was graphically more powerful than the PlayStation or Nintendo 64. The levels depicted in their current state are more aligned with the images seen so long ago.
The game hosts the traditional Career Mode, which places objectives into various maps around the world. Travel to such places as France and the infamous Marseilles Skate Park and right back here to the USA. These objectives can come in the form of high point runs or finding the mystery DVDs. Most of which make sense, but I couldn’t help point out that finding a mystery DVD doesn’t seem as fulfilling as the original goal, which was finding the hidden 411 Skateboarding Video Tape. It’s almost as if this got overlooked.
Other modes include Hawkman, Single Session, Free Skate and Big Head Surival. The Hawkman mode is where you must collect colored coins littered around each level while comboing moves. Single Session will allow you a two-minute session to put together your best run. Free Skate gives you the opportunity to explore the map, or get to that tricky hidden area that you’ve been wondering about the whole game. The Big Head survival, probably one of the most fun modes of the game, has you surviving trick-to-trick while your head continuously grows and approaches a bursting point. Not doing tricks will make your percentage increase beyond control and kaboom!
With the game shaped up with challenges and graphics, you’d think that it’d be ready for a traditional next-gen polished feel. While the game starts out with a wallop, it slowly becomes a chore to play.
I was a little surprised to see the size of games file size come in just under 500 MB. I was also surprised to see a next-gen game, for lack of a better term, not packin’ heat. Even with it looking spiffy and cleaned up, there were plenty of mishaps to be had during gameplay.
There are certain things about the Tony Hawk series over the years that have been big improvements allowing the game to mirror happenings in skateboarding culture. Leaving your skateboard and going on foot for caveman moves or body-bending transitions are something that we’ve grown accustomed to in these skate titles. With the case of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, they bailed on it.
The overall feel of the game is rigid, stiff and does not play well with others; other walls, other rails, or other people–it can become frustrating to maneuver around them. OK, I get it. Obviously, hitting a flat spot while my body is inverted on my way down from the ramp will cause me to crash. But, having a slight invert totally skate-able should end happily. Such physics factors were slightly fudged in older titles and later made to work in the games favor.
I was looking forward to at least being able to bail or transition during big jumps or long falls. The game plays much like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, having various control similarities. Excluding these control specific mishaps, other environment obstructions, simply make the game a chore to play. Landing the slightest bit off, or clipping sometimes invisible corners, will either send your skater to the ground or mysteriously launch them into the sky. Yeah, it happened more than once.
The games online multiplayer meshes the old with new. Trick Attack and Graffiti make their return. This is where you can show up your practiced skate routines. Hit this rail here, got to make my way to the lip over there, and boom—400,000 point combo. While these modes are just as fun as they were back in the day, some of the mentioned mishaps contribute to big point follies and excruciating losses. This is important when you are now pressed with the consequence of your head exploding.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD brought back feelings of nostalgia and memories of my youth. I was around during the launch of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and its sequel, and playing these games amped us up to go out and shred ourselves. The game still sparks those feelings, being that I never really stopped skateboarding.
But, as the game proves to be littered with bugs and physic mishaps, I can’t say that these feelings were around long. At times, the game plays like it should and allows for some great online multiplayer moments. Other times it is frustrating and can cause various symptoms of nerd rage such as controller throwing. It may even cause you to shout a vulgarity or two.
The game almost felt a bit rushed, even some of the menus look bland. The PC and PlayStation 3 versions have the possibility of outshining the ‘360 release. Hopefully a huge patch will be on order for the Xbox 360 version. If you are a fan of the series, you will no doubt find comfort in “I remember that!” or “Oh yeah, the magic bum moves there now.” Even so, you might be disappointed in the rigidness of the game and surprised how buggy it actually is.
+/- Fun Factor