I have to preface this review by making it known that I am a massive Tony Hawk Pro Skater fan. My brother was an avid skater in his teenage years and as such owned the first two THPS games for the original PlayStation. The franchise was a staple as I grew up, owning and finished nearly all the THPS games. Naturally, I was psyched to finally get my hands on Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD.
THPS HD is a consolidation of the first two THPS games, taking stages (seven to be exact), characters, mechanics and music from both games. It’s a hell of a feeling booting up the game and being thrown into the warehouse stage from the original that started it all. Everything is extremely accurately replicated in this HD release, presenting stages exactly as they were when introduced in the 90’s title. Game mechanics are kept intact and stay firmly within the realms of the first two titles, meaning no reverts, no flatlands tricks (sorry Rodney) and no getting off your board at any time. Despite numerous attempts I unfortunately wasn’t able to join a multiplayer game, but for those who can, there are five different online multiplayer modes as well as online leaderboards to indulge in.
Back to Basics
Developer Robomodo are no stranger to Tony Hawk games, having developed two games in the franchise prior to THPS HD. The studio has done an amazing job capturing the authenticity of the originals with having to completely rewrite the game engine from the ground up (no, this isn’t one those cheap HD remakes you’ve come to expect as of late).
The game progresses as you’d expect as you’re given a set of goals to achieve per stage. All the favourites are back, including collecting the skate letters, achieving high scores and collecting the secret tape … uhh DVDs. Although I started the game with the naive objective of completing each stage 100% before moving onto the next, I had obviously forgotten how difficult the original Tony Hawk games were.
Knowledge of the first two titles is without doubt a great advantage if your memory serves you well. Remembering the location of the secret tapes may have you checking off that goal faster than ever, but remembering is only half the battle. THPS HD is brutal with its collectable objectives, often hiding secret tapes and cash pickups in damn near unreachable locations. You’ll find a close friend in the restart stage button if you’re as hell bent on achieving 100% for each stage as I was. This isn’t a game that holds your hand, nor are there are any difficulty settings. It’s just you and your board against the world.
Hey There Beautiful
As the painstakingly obvious title suggests, THPS HD has received a rather extensive facelift. Models are sharper and more detailed, textures are realistic, and you will be exposed to fine shadows and reflections. The overall visuals are certainly an improvement, but while they can sometimes leave a bit to be desired, it’s completely understandable considering the nature of the game as an XBLA/PSN title.
You’ll have to take my word for it though, as the game does not include the ability to switch back into retro graphics; a feature made popular by Halo: Anniversary.
Appeasing Every Sense
Avid THPS fans will tell you that the soundtrack for these games were some of the most memorable aspects of the franchise. All your favourites are back for the HD iteration, including classics from Goldfinger, Public Enemy, Anthrax, Powerman 5000 and others. Also present is an array of tracks not previously incorporated within THPS games, so you can now rock out to the likes of Pigeon John, Lateef the Truthspeaker, Telekinesis, El-P, Trent Reznor and more.
That said, nothing hits the nostalgia bell harder than hearing a track from the original THPS games, so for me I was taken way back when Powerman 5000’s track “When Worlds Collide” starting playing. It was as though I was in the early 2000’s wall over again; classic grey PS1 controller in my palms, weaving my way through the mall stage with incredible ease.
Handles Like a Shopping Trolley
THPS HD suffers from the same poor controls that plagued the original titles. Wall riding is hit or miss, landing tricks is sometimes unpredictable and performing certain button combos is a mission in and of itself. Certain stage objectives will even have you performing special tricks over obstacles, which is especially difficult when a button combo as simple as down forward punch (hadooooooouken!) is hard to achieve.
I can’t necessarily blame the title on this however. It may be that the controls were replicated one for one with the original title’s control scheme, and if so, I applaud them on sticking to their guns. Another contributing factor is the less-than-ideal D-pad on the Xbox 360 controller, which has an inane ability to take your controller input and transform it into whatever random sequences of key presses it feels like at the time. Moral of the story: if you’re looking for the best experience, pick this game up for PS3 or PC.
If this wasn’t enough, a fairly substantial DLC pack is due for release in roughly a month’s time. The 400 MS point pack brings select content from Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 and the ability to perform reverts on the threequel’s stages. It’s a hefty addition to an already substantial arcade release.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is currently available on XBLA, the PSN and PC counterparts are due for release sometime in Q3 2012.
- Reviewed On
- Xbox 360