Are you ready to do an old school 180 Heelflip to Tailslide to Nose Manual to 360 Melon in HD? Well you’re in luck as the newest (or oldest depending on how you look at it) entry into the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise has just made its way to the Xbox Live Marketplace.
This game is more of a ‘Greatest Hits’ compilation than a complete remake consisting of a handful of levels from both Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2, although I personally wouldn’t consider some of them being the greatest levels by any means. The game has been developed by Robomodo famous for the two most recent entries in the series – Tony Hawk Ride and Tony Hawk Shred. Don’t worry though as you don’t need to use the frustrating plastic skateboard peripheral that those games demanded. Tony Hawk’s HD goes back to its origins by using a regular controller and classic gameplay that made the series famous.
The first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was released in 1999 and was an incredible success due to its fast, fun, high scoring arcade style skateboarding that was incredibly appealing especially to the younger gamers at the time (I should know since I was one of them). I absolutely loved the original games and playing them at the weekends with my friends while bopping my head to it’s rockin’ tunes was a highlight of my early teens (I didn’t get out much).
Tony Hawk’s HD isn’t just an up scaled re-release like most of the HD collections that are getting released lately; all the levels, characters, animations and gameplay have been recreated from the ground up. The game’s mechanics feel almost exactly the same as they did before which is a big relief. Riding up the quarter pipes, grinding the rails and hitting ramps all came back to me quite effortlessly and it felt as great and addictive as always. The developers have done a good job of recreating all the levels and physics from the old games, however they still aren’t perfect. Trying to perform a wall ride will have you throwing your controller at the wall, while bailing when doing a manual will often cause your character to respawn into a manual. These types of problems should have been sorted out before the game was released.
The game only contains a selection of seven levels which is quite disheartening considering there are nearly twenty overall to choose from in the first two games. The levels available include some greats like Warehouse, School 2 and Venice Beach, but include some rather poorer levels like Downhill Jam and Marseille. Obviously it would be impossible to please everyone considering we have our own favourites, but it seems like the developers purposely picked some of the smaller levels. Some of the greatest levels in the series have been the larger city based levels like Downtown and New York yet these seem to be strangely absent. The stages that are in the game though have been recreated well and are largely unchanged from how they were originally, which is something I think fans like me will appreciate. Most of the level’s challenges are exactly the same as they were originally with a few new ones added to the Tony Hawk 1 levels. Whats more later on in the game you can unlock “Projectives” which deliver a whole host of brand new objectives, tough enough to provide even the most trained of Tony Hawk players a challenge.
The graphics in the game aren’t the most impressive I’ve ever seen, but they don’t look bad and they certainly do the job required for the type of game that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is. It still retains the slightly cartoony look that the other entries in the series have, which I think really works considering the unrealistic arcade style of the gameplay. There are a few graphical glitches every so often with texture pop-in problems occurring more often than I’d like, but they don’t hurt the experience too much.
One of the greatest features for me about the old Tony Hawk games were the exciting mix of awesome songs in their soundtracks including pop-punk, metal and hip-hop songs. Due to the logistical nightmare of music licences, it’s surprising that the developers even bothered trying to get any of the previous songs , but thankfully they did. Half the game’s soundtrack is made up of old songs, which is pretty good going considering some HD remakes with classic soundtracks (Crazy Taxi HD) didn’t even bother. Unfortunately there are a few classic tracks absent from this game, but it’s admirable that the developers at least tried to include the original soundtrack in this HD remake.
One of the major disappointments of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is the insane lack of a split screen mode – in fact there’s not any local multiplayer of any kind. Considering most of my (and many others) most fondest memories about the Tony Hawk games were sitting on the sofa playing ‘Horse’ or split-screen score attack with my friends, it seems absolutely shocking that it wasn’t included. The developers have seriously underestimated how important this feature is and I think the lack of local multiplayer is hurting the final product. Online multiplayer is included where up to 4 players can play classic trick attack, graffiti, big head elimination and or just skate around freely. Playing online reminded me how much different the Tony Hawk experience is when playing with others and hopefully the community will stick around as the multiplayer is still an absolute blast to play and just as addictive as ever.
Despite the game only having seven levels to choose from, the game does have good lasting appeal with lots of collectables, extra goals, cheats, decks, and characters all to unlock. Hopefully the online multiplayer will keep people coming back to keep the community alive. There is also DLC already in the works introducing three levels from Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 including Canada, Airport and Los Angeles.
Despite the game’s flaws, this is still a decent compilation that tries to respect the original titles as much as possible. There’s no denying that the lack of local multiplayer really hurts, but it still has a lot to offer those who enjoy mostly single player or even playing online against friends. However fans who want to experience the original two games exactly how they remembered them will probably be better off trying to get them on eBay or digging them out of their loft instead.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is available now on Xbox Live Market Place for 1200 points and will be available on Playstation Network and PC soon. Be sure to check out our hands on video of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD.