Review: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD

Thirteen years ago, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater rocked the planet with its never-before-seen skateboarding gameplay, tailored-to-perfection level design and simple yet explosive control system. A year later, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 broke the mold, reinventing practically everything that the first game introduced, innovated and even stood for. A year after that, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 took things to a whole new level, bringing the series into full life and flourish for the next generation. (People were just gagging for their next helping!)

What followed for the next eight years, however, sucked, quite frankly (putting Tony Hawk’s Underground aside because that one is awesome); the follow-up games in the series suffering from the strain of rushed yearly releases with little more to rest on but the series’ past laurels, even going so far to grab peoples’ attention by going down the Guitar Hero route and whacking a broken peripheral underneath players’ feet when all they really want to do is one thing – sit back, relax and whack out some insane combos with a controller – giving them even more reason to hate the series for what it had become since its halcyon days.

Then along came Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD and things started looking up again…

 

Downhill jammin’!

Combining the best elements from the first two Tony Hawk’s games, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is the long-awaited, well-deserved kick up the backside that the series had been screaming out for for all these years, taking a step back from so-called ‘innovation’ and going down the route of reinvention instead. And it bloody well worked!

For a good long while the Skate series was slowly paving its way over the Tony Hawk’s legacy, but after playing this game, realistic skateboarding physics and stick board controls can go take up rollerblading for all I care, for the Birdman is back and he’s doing it in reinvented style! If you have never played the first two Tony Hawk’s games then you simply won’t be able to compare them to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, and just how well the controls, level design and child-like excitement and appeal have toiled the tides of time with little more than a wheel out of place in thirteen years. As a starting point, however, this game is an excellent portal into the series, taking 99.9% of the originals, giving them a pinch of current gen accessibility, and delivering on exactly what the fans have been demanding. The controls feel just as they did thirteen years ago: Simple and perfection; the most well-loved fan favourite levels are back with a vengeance (as well as a farting magic hobo); the controls and trick system haven’t been messed about with whatsoever, retaining literally everything that made it so simple yet almighty, and that classic, familiar feel is just there, no questions asked.

Granted, I’m not quite sure where the supposedly “stunning” and “beautiful” visuals are, but, really, they don’t matter a nip, because when you’re caught up in this much non-stop action you could be playing with Atari 2600 graphics and you probably wouldn’t notice a thing out of place amongst the mad combo scores and colourful pop-ups. Now there’s an empty promise that doesn’t matter!

 

Like a boss!

The only bad thing about what could otherwise be considered the greatest return in XBLA history? Glitches. Oh, the glitches! Falling through the ground and terrain; getting jammed between and embedded in objects resulting in your chosen skater flipping out in an epileptic mosh; and, perhaps most annoyingly, getting trapped inside walls by merely brushing up against them. These typically go hand in hand with some frankly awful checkpoints, so if you get sucked into a wall and ‘die’ as a result of the wall-sucking then you may as well put the controller down until you inevitably die from the ill-fated checkpoint until a less compromising agreement is settled upon. Clearly rushed to get it out in time for Summer of Arcade, and that’s why the glitches exist, but they’re really not all that game-ruining, nor are they very regular occurrences, but when they do show up, it brings on the sighs and rolling eyes.

 

Flip, grind, grab and Special – this game is your oyster

With a fantastic Career mode, addictive Free Skate mode, the all-new time-intensive Big Head mode, and, especially, online multiplayer (and more), there is simply no denying that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is the best one since the originals, and to combine the two into one banging package for a mere 1200MSP, you just can’t go wrong.

Oversized benches, stairs and runaway golf carts unite to form Tony’s greatest iteration since that surprise hit all those years ago. The flawless, super simple controls are back, and they’re so, so, so intuitive that you could operate them in your sleep. And, while I cannot be denied that straight up ports of the first two games would have been somewhat more welcome than an all-encompassing remake, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD holds enough ground to be considered an original all on its own – and that’s no mean feat as far as remakes go.

Now, go do a sky-high 180 triple kickflip to the choonz of “Superman” and relive the good old days!

 

MUST. CONTINUE. COMBO!!!

 

The round-up

Oversized benches, stairs and runaway golf carts unite to form Tony’s greatest iteration since that surprise hit all those years ago. The flawless, super simple controls are back, and they’re so, so, so intuitive that you could operate them in your sleep. And, while I cannot be denied that straight up ports of the first two games would have been somewhat more welcome than an all-encompassing remake, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD holds enough ground to be considered an original all on its own – and that’s no mean feat as far as remakes go.

Now, go do a sky-high 180 triple kickflip to the choonz of “Superman” and relive the good old days!

8/10

 

Author: G H

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