I’ve been a long-time fan and player of the Tony Hawk series of video games, through thick and thin, and witness to countless formulaic changes in look and feel. It’s been a real shame these last few years, what with the fact that the franchise has all but died off and lost all of it’s luster and intrigue, but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD offers a chance for nostalgic thrill seekers to experience some of the best elements from the first two Pro Skater games. What is an even bigger shame is the fact that the game- while not an utter or complete failure, is not able to stand very tall on it’s own without leaning on it’s older brother, the original Pro Skater series. As Kato said, it wouldn’t be a great thing to make the game exactly the same as it’s namesake, however, the fact that it takes those old issues and adds them into the smelting pot of new ones does absolutely nothing for the game or any future installments. All we can hope is that any future iterations of the Pro Skater HD series realize this one’s mistakes and remedy them, or that they decide not to even make any more.
The best things about all of the Pro Skater games remain mostly true in this HD remake as well, mostly due to the fact that it is still incredibly satisfying to pull off massive trick combos and explore the expansive worlds and parks as well. Everything about the way the controls work and the ways you can traverse the world at high speed showcases the flexibility and mobility of the control scheme in it’s classic form. In classic Hawk action, players can choose to use either the control stick- in a Skate like manner, or the D-pad in nostalgic Pro Skater form. It’s the little things about the choices of control and tricks that really make the game shine in it’s brightest moments, and cast a shadow on the gameplay in it’s darkest.
Although it is in fact a mixed selection of levels from both of the first Pro Skater games, the levels in Pro Skater HD fit together in a well-oiled manner, and offer a great selection of fast-paced runs and unique adventures. As already noted by the editors in the review for the game, the level design fits well with the trick-oriented gameplay, and the two items go hand in hand and make for interesting possibilities in terms of runs and action sequences. With all of these grandiose things going in favor of the HD remake here, it is only rightfully shown- as usually is with remakes, that there are certain hitches and issues to bring down the fun-o-meter to a mediocre level at most. It is these certain bugs and glitches that are solely responsible for any hampering of gameplay and the problems some longtime fans may experience in their trials of this new Tony Hawk game…
This having been said, certain problems stand out such as finding yourself in the center of the halfpipe after disastrous mishaps including missing the lips, moving away from the edge in mid air and crash landing, and other potentially deadly mistakes. This was not so much of a problem in the original games, and only goes to show that a new studio’s touch on a game can be just as good of a thing as it can be a bad one. Make no mistake, this is no terrible job done- simply one with a few fledgling mistakes that the creators of the series would never have made at this point in time… Another pish poor combination is that of the physics and fluidity systems in conjunction with each other throughout the game. You may often find yourself jarred surprisingly off of rails or lips, and could just as often find yourself catapulted sporadically into the air a la the bull in Underground 2. One semi-archaic element of the game that stems from the older games would be the objective-based missions system that is essential one big fetch mission throughout the game. This is a valiant effort on their part in staying true to the formula created years ago, however it is a wasted one and one that is easily put aside in search of mere fun with the mechanics and trickery.
The objectives may have sucked tremendously in later games, however, the ones here take from both their ideas and those of the older games- to mixed review and success as well. Another thing that caters similarly to the newer feelings and layouts of the Tony Hawk games would be the addition of a map with all of a level’s collectibles and hidden items. This does, however, severely detract from the overall experience of finding things on your own simply in the environment without usage of extras or hints. That is simply a small qualm though. In addition to these new items of interest, there are several multiplayer modes- ranging from the absurdity of the Big Head mode from the original Pro Skater games, to the classic trick attacks as well.
The game certainly recreates the majority of the nostalgia and action from the first games, but it doesn’t do it very well- and it also shows through entirely too much. This is certainly a game to be released to mixed results, as will any possible future HD installments unless they are fixed for the better. The PSN version is the only thing that now stands between the HD remake of Pro skater and a terribly rough fate, as it could either be a saving grace or another nail in the coffin- much as Risen 2 seems to be right now…
Concept: A rough transcribing of ancient texts that shows that nobody is perfect, but that you should always respect your elders as well.
Graphics: While it is indeed an HD remake, and does of course look much better than it’s elder brothers and other estranged relatives, the self-same issues of animations and collisions make starring roles in this venture as well.
Sound: Although there are some old songs from the previous Pro Skater games, the majority of the game’s songs are new additions and new to the Tony Hawk aspect of things as well.
Playability: Runs can be more difficult than in other games, due mainly to the aforementioned glitches and issues, however, this simply makes them more satisfying in the long run.
Entertainment: The game does a wonderful job of being a nostalgic experience and a walk down memory lane, however it does show where it’s limits are, and tries not to go too entirely far past them for fear of failure and exposure.
Replayability: Moderately Low
Overall Score: 7.0