Written by Twisted Ideas
It’s no secret that the Tony Hawk’s series has fallen from grace over the years. Depending who you ask the series started to decline at a couple of different points. Some people thought after THPS 2, while some thought after Underground and for me was after Underground 2. The only thing that saved American Wasteland for me was the online play and I thought Project 8 dismal. After the failed attempt with the skateboard peripheral after Tony Hawk: Ride Activision announced at last year’s E3 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD a re-imaging of the first two games. Tony Hawk’s arcade-like skateboarding series has bailed long ago but is THPS HD a clean landing?
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a mix of Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 and 2 thus the mechanics only span up until the second game. You have the flip, grab and grind tricks from the first game and lip tricks, wall rides and manuals that were introduced in the second. There are seven levels taken from the games: Warehouse, School 2, The Mall, Hanger, Downhill Jam, Venice Beach and Marseille. You have eight pro skaters to choose from initially and bonus skaters can be unlocked. They all have different stats reflecting their actual skills in life and several preset Special moves. The roster has been updated but there are odd omissions like Bob Burnquist and Chad Muska.
The main mode, as in the originals, is Career mode where each level will present a series of goals for you to complete. You have a two minute run to complete a series of objectives (they can be done in separate runs) in order to proceed to the next level. They vary from high scores, collectibles and various challenges specific to the stage. Those who have played the original games will notice that many goals were unaltered and new goals were added. Completing goals will earn you cash which you can use to spend of stats, specials and skateboards. Complete enough goals unlocks the next stage and completing all the goals for one character will unlock Projectives mode Projectives are new five goals in each level in a one minute run. These goals are some of the hardest in the series due to the scaled back mechanics.
There are several other game modes offered in the game. Single session is a two minute run without goals and free skate allows you to skate in a level with no time limit. Big Head Mode and Hawking are two new modes to the series. In Big Head Mode your head will slowly increase in size until it explodes. The only way to decrease the size is to perform tricks. The goal is to last as long as possible as the rate of your head growing increases. Hawking mode has a set of pellets that can only be obtained by performing tricks through them.
Online is heavily scaled back from the free roaming online servers from previous titles. The host creates the room and chooses one of four modes: Score Attack, Graffiti, Big Head Elimination or Free Skate. The rooms only hold four players. Unlike the previous online modes you at the end of a game you are put back into the lobby where players are more likely to leave the room
Graphics and Sound
The graphics are an obvious improvement over the original games. It may be possible that the world was rebuilt from the ground up different from other HD recollections. There have been some changes in the details of the game such as changes in the decals and the lighting in some levels. They are not the best graphics by any means (mainly the character models) but that’s not why your playing.
The soundtrack is composed of 14 tracks with one taken from THPS 1, 6 from THPS 2 and 7 new to the series. The soundtrack is heavily rock and hip-hop focusedFans of the second game will recognize the tracks like “You” by Bad Religion and “When Worlds Collide” by Powerman 5000.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is still as enjoyable as I remember the series being. The game feels as fast as some of the later games but is limited to the mechanics up to the second game. There are flaws with the game though but most aren’t deal breakers. Certain goals don’t register at first, the frame rate drops occasionally, no local multiplayer and specials and certain tricks’ inputs get confused.
You seem to be faster and jump higher which isn’t a problem except when dealing with certain goals. The levels seem to scale but collectables are put in places where you jump straight over them. When performing quarter pipe transfers it’s so easy soar over and beyond and where you need to land. You have to hold yourself back which is can be frustrating in Career mode. Inputs for tricks tend to get confused especially when trying to perform Special tricks. The previous games used to buffer inputs thus not confusing moves like Boneless’s double up motion on to your next trick. When doing Boneless or No Comply the up input is held even after your in the air eating up additional inputs for a while. My biggest gripe is that you cannot freely control the camera. This is such a pain when looking for collectibles as some blend in the backgrounds at first glance.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD seems to be aiming towards early adopters to the series. They don’t make the game easier for new comers and Projectives’ goals are definitely something I wouldn’t be able to accomplish back in the day. The game’s more accessible than the Skate series though. The game is $15 which is quite steep for a downloadable title and it has been announced that THPS 3 DLC will be added that will add mechanics from that game into the mix. That’s frustrating because they are withholding content from a eleven year old game and if it’s more than $5 then don’t even get me started. After all is said and done, it’s just as fun as the originals that I played on the PS1. This old dog has aged well.