When Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater released on the Playstation in August of 1999 I don’t think anyone, even publisher Activision, knew just how immensely popular the game would be. I remember staying up late nights with friends trying to find all the SKATE letters and attempting to find the hidden video cassettes in every level.
But like with any game that finds huge success there would be sequels. And in the case of Tony Hawk boy would there be plenty of them. THPS 2 and 3 were still very good skateboarding games but soon after we were under the deluge of Bam Margera cameos and skateboard peripherals. Ten sequels in ten years will tend to thin out creativity (you listening Call of Duty?).
Now almost two years after the last Tony Hawk release Activision has decided that old is the new new and gotten developer Robomodo to remake Tony Hawk into a powerhouse again. What has come of that is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD which takes the best levels of Tony Hawk 1 and 2 as well as a healthy bulk of the original soundtrack and given them an HD facelift.
Let’s get this out of the way early. This game is freaking fun. No more loading tunnels for open worlds or trying to do a kickflip on a fake skateboard that won’t read your tricks. This is straight up Tony Hawk like you remember from way back (13 years….wow) and it controls just as good as you remember. Tricks and grabs are assigned to the button layout as well as the grind and jump. Spin is attained by control stick or the left and right triggers. Sound familiar? Manuals are back as well and can make for some sick combos.
If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, “Nothing sounds different”, well for the most part you are right. And that is what is so refreshing about this game. The first time you bust through the glass into the Warehouse stage it’s like a warm feeling of better days when you were young and it was only plastic cars.
Stages are unlocked the old fashioned way, by earning it. Collecting SKATE letters, hidden DVD’s, doing certain stage specific tricks and trying to get the progressively higher scores will have you skating on. And with this being a “best of” game from THPS 1 and 2 you will gladly keep grinding away to unlock the next stage so you can relive more memories. I already mentioned Warehouse as one of the levels and in addition you get: Mall, Hangar, School 2, Venice Beach, Marseille and Downhill Jam.
The new in the game is mostly good with modes like Big Head which has the players head inflating slowly and the only way to keep it from exploding is to keep up your combo total. It’s also good to see online leaderboards added to the title because what’s better than comparing your high scores to you friends? Why comparing it to the entire world. You will find out quickly that no matter how good you think you are there is always a 14 year old in Seattle way better. That to me is a challenge.
The only place I would say that trips the game up is the roster of skaters. Gone are the days of Bob Burnquist, Bucky Lasek and Rune Glifberg. Now we gets the likes of Andrew Reynolds (huh), Chris Cole (again, huh) and Riley Hawk, Tony’s son (dang we’re old). But you can still play as the Hawkman and also use your avatar on 360 so even my only gripe about the game is a minor one.
Graphically, the team at Robomodo have done a great job sprucing up this 13 year old title. While it is not going to challenge Crysis in a graphics contest it is leaps and bounds about the original PS1 classic. It really is the perfect blend of playing a new game while remaining familiar.
Finally the soundtrack is a big winner. While it doesn’t boast all the tracks from the first two games you get a great collection that includes: Powerman 5000, Goldfinger, and a host of new tracks. I dare you to not start singing Bring the Noise when it comes up on any level. Remember music? Yeah, I do too.
So should you download Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD? Only if you want a game with smooth controls, awesome soundtrack and that good feeling you get when you remember back to better times….and better games.
NERD RATING- 8/10