Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD

THPSHD Boxart
7 Overall Score
Graphics: 9/10
Gameplay: 7/10
Satisfaction: 5/10

It's Tony Hawk Pro Skater! I Awesome Soundtrack

Strange physics. I Missing Skaters I Level Progression

Written by on July 18, 2012 in [, , , , , , , ]

One of the most satisfying video gaming experiences is one where you are inspired to go out and do something useful as a result of it.  With Rock Band, I wanted to really play music. With Driver, I wanted to go really fast in my car. With Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater I wanted to skateboard.

It turns out that skateboarding is just as bad of an idea as driving fast for a guy who was always close to three hundred pounds.  As a result of this fact, the only success that I had ever found with the sport was through the THPS series.

Taking the best parts of the first two games in the series, Activision has now released Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD.  The incredible sense of nostalgia is immediately piqued when you load up the game to be greeted with one of the recognizable tracks from the classic games.

The hype as you scroll through the included skaters begins to mount as you get excited to dive in and try out the classic gameplay.  Unfortunately, that feeling starts to go away when you scroll through the level select and realize that; true to the series, you have to unlock all of the levels.

While I understand that part of the appeal of the original series was unlocking all of the levels and secrets, I sort of have an issue with this approach.  I figured that since this was a celebration of the best of THPS that we would just have access to the levels with the understanding that we’ve already struggled through the goals of the previous games.

Keeping the goals in place for each level would be a great way to unlock fun stuff, like secret characters or bail videos; however, it is imperative that you finish many of the goals in the previous level before a new one is unlocked.

I could be wrong, but my idea of a XBLA game is one that you can pick up and play for a while and have a blast and then leave it without too much thought.  While this is the case with the other modes built into the game, in order to have access to all of the levels you have to play through the Career mode and unlock them for each individual skater.  This is awful when your favorite level is the last one that can be unlocked (which it was for me).  I have to say that I understand that many of you might think that I am being hard on the game for this, considering that the game is just asking you to play it, but I have my reasons.

The Career mode is the classic THPS.  What this means is that you have three score challenges, you have to find certain objects hidden through the levels, do specific tricks in the right places, spell the word “SKATE”, and find the modernized “Hidden DVD” instead of a hidden tape.  Interestingly enough, they did not decide to make that a Blu-ray.

The issue with this Career mode; which is required to play if you want more than one level to play, is that a lot of these tasks are either remarkably boring, frustrating, or just not fun.  When I am done doing the fun goals; like discovering the hidden DVD, or getting the high scores, I am perfectly ok.  It only becomes frustrating and repetitive when I have to get “SKATE” and the “A” is where I can’t get to or collect whatever stuff they have strewn about the level.  You can spend the entire two minute time limit trying to collect one thing.

The two minute time limit seems like an antiquated memory of a bygone era.  Yes, there is a Free Skate mode, but like I keep hammering home, you have to unlock the levels in the Career mode.  This means that you have to replay some levels upwards of six times if you are successful with a goal in each turn.  Most times, I am not successful in each turn, so I end up playing it more than that.  I know that there are people out there who can get all of the goals in one two minute session.  I call these people talented and I wish I were one of them.

The game just sort of guesses that you know how to play as there are no tutorials other than one in the pause menu that no one tells you about and doesn’t cover everything I wanted to know.  It’s been a while since I’ve skated with Tony and needed a refresher and the only place I had to turn was the internet.  Same goes for some of the more specific goals.  You can TELL me that you want me to do a specific trick in a specific place, but unless you guide me through the trick and the place you might as well just throw me in the ocean without swimming lessons since it would be the same thing.

The levels are all familiar and certainly are some of the best level designs from any skateboarding game.  In fact, as I scrolled through the level select screen, my smile just kept getting bigger as I saw nearly every one of my favorite levels from those early Hawk games. The visuals are astounding as well and make the game look exactly how you think it looked through the fog of time.

The skaters included are some all-time great skateboarders as well as some fresh faces which includes your Xbox Avatar if that is the platform you play on.  Unfortunately, some of the best skaters from the series are absent like Bucky Lasek, Bob Burnquist, or even Bam Margera.  While progressing through the career, you can use money earned in game to buy new decks and stats for your skater so that you can make them an unstoppable force of nature.  The trade off, of course, is that the skater will be a little harder to control considering how stinking fast you are going.

The controls are all classic Hawk with the added inconvenience of more realistic physics.  Combos and moves are incredible fun and being able to do manuals and wall rides on THPS1 levels is weirdly satisfying; however, there are a few issues that pop up.  The more realistic physics make it a little harder to gain speed, air, or anything else that would increase the fun as the original games allowed.  The strangest is all in the collision detection.  More than a few times, I would hit a wall and would be launched across the level.  I have no idea how it would happen since I wouldn’t be going too fast or even hitting it at a strange angle, but my skater would just suddenly decide that physics no longer applied for him and would bail in spectacular fashion.  To tell you the truth, it is actually kind of funny.  Big drops aren’t nearly as forgiving in the game as they once were; which is a huge problem in the Mall.  As I mentioned, the controls for THPS2 have been used; however, I miss reverts as introduced in THPS3.  Thankfully it will be included as DLC in the future, but only for the levels in the DLC.

Other game modes are included, but I really don’t see myself playing them too much other than the Free Skate.  One mode has you collecting coins that require you to collect them in a certain way, and another  tasks you with getting nice lines and combos or your head will literally explode.

Online modes are included with the game and include the Free Skate, but the ones that are the best are the Graffiti, where you tag different objects by doing awesome tricks off of them and Big Head Elimination mode where you have to be the last skater standing when faced with possible head detonation.  I just really wish that they had the HORSE mode.  Ah, the days where we would change HORSE to something offensive just for the sake of it.

I’ve given the game kind of a hard time, but I think it is because I didn’t get what I thought I was going to.  I thought I was going to get a tribute to one of the greatest games that ever graced a console, and while I sort of received that, I just don’t think it went far enough.  I’m sure I will keep playing since I love the series; specifically THPS2, but I wanted a tad more in some places and far less in others.  Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD is like going to see your favorite band and they play every song you wanted them to play except that ONE that meant something to you.  That is disappointing.

A review copy of Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD was supplied to the Married Gamers for the purposes of this review.

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Author: Wallace Phelps View all posts by

One Comment on "Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD"

  1. Loren Nikkel July 18, 2012 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    I loved these games, but having to relive them and collect everything while being timed makes me not want to hurry out and get this quite yet. Nice review.

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