Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Review! Let’s Party Like It’s 1999 Again!
The Birdman is back and ready to fly in this remake of some of the best levels from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2, but now in HD. After 13 years have come and gone, does the original formula still hold up?
The Original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for the Playstation 1 was a game that came out at the right time. During the mid to late 90’s, extreme sports was building a massive following with events like the X games. From skateboarding, BMX freestyle and Motorcross in the summer, to Snowboarding and skiing in the winter. You also had really popular games like the N64 classic hit 1080 snowboarding, out in 1998 being obsessively played.
But finally a game came out to claim the throne as the King of Skateboarding Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It was all about tricks, combos, great music and so much more. It was for a generation of skaters, gamers looking for something new or even people just wishing they could get into skateboarding. Regardless, at the time Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was a juggernaut. After its success, they released a slew of many sequels on many other consoles adding more moves, better graphics, online play, and many ways to create just about anything in the game.
It took almost 10 years before another company could come along and make a Skateboarding game that could compete for that crown. We all know I’m talking about EA’s Skate series. Both games were about the same objective, Skateboarding, but both were two very different games.
The true down fall of Tony Hawk games came from the consistent release of a new game being out on a yearly basis, also couple that with failed attempts to reinvent the formula of Tony Hawk from the complete failure of Tony Hawk Ride and its sequel Tony Hawk: Shred. There were other problems too, but for some gamers, we just needed a break, for others, they just moved on.
But here we are 13 years later with Activision and Robomodo taking another crack at the Tony Hawk franchise in a HD remake of a Hand full of levels from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a compilation of some of the best levels from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2, which include Warehouse, School 2, The Hanger, Mall, Venice Beach, Downhill Jam and Marseille, only now sporting some new highly detailed HD graphics. The game comes with some of the Tony Hawk’s past single player modes like Career Mode, Single Session and Free Skate, also adding some very fresh new modes like Hawkman and Big Head Survival. With Career Mode, it’s exactly what you remembered if you ever played a Tony Hawk game in the past before it went open world. But for those of you who never played the original games, the way it worked is you have two minutes to complete as many of the goals as you can. The goals included getting the High, Pro and Sick scores, finding the secret DVD, collecting floating cash, collecting the letters S-K-A-T-E and many other tasks that vary depending on the level. By far, this is the way Tony Hawk was meant to be played and it’s so great to have it back in its classic form.
Outside of the Career mode, you also have Free Skate and Single Session. Free Skate is basically a practice mode and Single Session is a mode where you try to get as many points as you can in 2 minutes. The new modes to single player are Hawkman and Big Head Survival. In Hawkman, you collect colored pellets while jumping, grinding and manualing through them in the quickest time you can. The colors pellets depend on what moves you have to do to collect them. Once you collect them all, the round ends. The goal is to get the High Score, Pro Score and Sick Score times. So do your best impression of Pac-Man and collect those pellets fast!
Big Head Survival is by far the best new mode in the game. The objective is to survive as long as you can before your head explodes. Your head is constantly inflating, and the only way to deflate it is by landing tricks. Throughout your run, the inflation time speeds up. The goal is to survive and hit the High Score, Pro Score and Sick Score time. This mode is incredible addictive and a lot of fun.
As you complete objectives in Career Mode, Hawkman and Big Head Survival, you earn money which can be spent on buying new special tricks, boards and upgrading your skater’s stats. Each skater in the game has their own career progress to complete, which really adds replay value and give you a reason to keep playing. After ranking up a skater and then trying out a different one, it’s like night and day. Upping your stats is a huge deal especially for completing some objective. Being able to have better grind balance, manual balance, jumping higher, going faster and many more upgradeable stats, is what’s going to get you the high scores and reach areas or items that you couldn’t reach from the get go. The evolution of your skater is what really makes this game highly addictive.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a huge jump forward from its previous versions in the graphics department. This isn’t like other games that upscale and slap the words HD in the title. It was all built from the ground up with a new graphical engine and it really shows. Does it look better then the game that came before it Tony Hawk Proving Ground? Short answer is no. But it still is a really amazing looking game. All the levels look exactly how you would want them to look on the current generation consoles.
Pro Skater HD plays like the original version of the game. What I mean by that is you really have to land your tricks spot on every time. Over time the franchise got easier and easier by adding moves that would basically make it where you could go out of your way to eat it on the pavement, but then hit one button to recover from it just in time. I like the fact of the series bringing it back to the harder form it once was. You really feel the growth of your skills getting better, while also makes leveling up your skater a huge part to the game. They did however add a new map to the game that you can bring up and see where everything is. The seasoned Tony Hawk fan won’t use this feature, but for people new to the game and are practically pulling their hair out to find that last letter for the S-K-A-T-E completion might. They also added a restart button to the control scheme. Simply by pushing the Back Button, it will ask you if you want to restart. I’ve always felt like there is a flow to creating the best runs you do with THPS, so it is nice to be able to quickly restart if you need to.
Multiplayer is a blast! You and 3 other skaters can battle it out online in Free Skate, Trick Attack, Big Head Elimination, and Graffiti. Keep in mind I said online due to the fact there is no local multiplayer. In a world where most games these days are online only, this doesn’t really bother me. But for some, it might.
The open world games of Tony Hawk’s past were awesome, but there is a serious rush that comes into play when the game gives you only two minutes to do as much as possible before the time is up.
All the sounds from going off a jump, to grinding different surfaces, to breaking objects or glass are there. But the true star is the soundtrack. That was the one thing you could always depend on with the every game in the series. With this remake you get some fan favorites like “Superman” by Goldfinger, plus a bunch of other great songs from the original two games. They also included some new tracks to fill out the soundtrack that fit in perfectly with the past ones. You’ll definitely enjoy the great mix of old and new while you’re jammin’ out and trying to nail that huge score.
If you’re a long time fan of the franchise, or you jumped ship after the disappointment of the some of the past games that attempted to reinvent the series, this $15.00 download is a no brainer to recommend. If you’ve never played a Tony Hawk game or any of the original ones before it went open world, you definitely owe it to yourself to download this one and play a part of gaming history. Who would of thought going back to the roots of what made Tony Hawk Pro Skater so amazing 13 years ago, would reignite the addiction for these types of games and still hold up today. Who’s ready for some Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 DLC? Oh hell yes!
Also check out the latest news on the upcoming THPS3 DLC: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Has Announced New DLC Levels!