When Neversoft’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater came out back in 1999, it pretty much revolutionized both the gaming and extreme sports world. Never had gamers seen something like it, a extreme sports game with combo-based gameplay, item collection and sweet bag of skateboard tricks. It instantly became a hit upon release, gathering fans from all over the world and even inspiring many to pick up skateboards and try to become pros in real life. Thanks to the game, the X Games saw a surge in popularity, Tony Hawk became a household name, and Activision became the go-to place for extreme sports games. So it’s only suiting that this classic game gets another chance in this age of HD remakes. Does Robomodo’s new Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD fly high like its predecessors, or does it face plant on the concrete?
In Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, players revisit seven of the most popular levels from THPS 1 and 2, each with new textures that bring them up to date. However, the game has as much new content as old, as the developers have included new skateboard pros, new music, and even new challenges and gameplay modes.
When it comes to the pros, many of the classic skaters are gone and are replaced with fresh faces. Instead of familiar faces like Chad Muska and Bob Burnquist, we now have modern skaters like Chris Cole, Lyn-z Adams Hawkins Pastrana, Riley Hawk and more. While this is not a big deal, it can be disappointing to some who enjoyed these characters and wished to use them in this new iteration.
The music in the game has also been overhauled. While signature songs are back, like Goldfinger’s “Superman,” many new tracks have been added to the game. Some of these new additions, like El-P’s “Flyentology,” are pretty cool and catchy, but not every new track is a winner. There’s not much to complain about, however, as you’ll still be humming the tunes as you play the game.
When it comes to the gameplay, the game plays exactly as you remember it, and that’s a good thing. In Career mode, players race through various levels completing a number of objectives, such as gaining a high score, collecting letters of the word SKATE, finding secret dvds, and other tasks within a 2 minute time limit. The gameplay is as fun as you remember, and the controls are quick and smooth, allowing players to pull of crazy combos with ease.
In addition to the standard career mode, there is also a number of other modes players can jump into take keep themselves busy. Single Session allows players to just concentrate on the scoring, so they can try to climb the online leaderboards, and Free Skate allows players to explore any stage without a time limit, so that they can practice, scope out areas and create combos. New to this edition is Big Head Survival, where players must score points in order to reduce their ever-swelling head before it explodes, and Hawkman, a Pac-man-like mode where players must collect different colored pellets as fast as possible. Both modes are welcome additions to the tried-and-true THPS gameplay. When players complete the career mode, they can also unlock Projectives, a series of additional objectives that provide harder challenges, like collecting the word COMBO with a single string of tricks, and obtaining higher scores.
If players want to take a break from polishing their skills in single-player, they can head online to take on skaters all over the world. In Multiplayer, players can see who scores more points in Trick Attack, who can claim more trick spots in Graffiti, survive longest before their head explodes on Big Head Elimination, or just chill out in Free Skate. While popular modes like H.O.R.S.E. are somehow missing and the lack of split-screen is disappointing, I do love the online aspect of the game, as it plays fast and you can always play with good friends.
While being a fun game, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD does have a couple of frustrating faults that holds it back. First off is the fact that the title has tons of glitches, be it graphical or gameplay-wise. Skaters constantly clip through the environments when they fall, bury themselves into objects when they crash, bounce off the floor and soar off the map randomly after collisions, and more. While it’s hilarious at first, but you quickly wonder why it happens so much.
Secondly, the respawning in the game also has its fair share of problems. Players may occasionally respawn in awkward areas after crashing. For example, I’ve frequently respawned behind the object I crashed against. This type of situation traps players in areas where they can lose precious time maneuvering out of, and also can cause players to crash once again immediately. Another big problem I encountered was that if I bailed (failed a combo by hitting the ground) after attempting a manual (a trick), I would respawn performing a manual in place. This would cause me to me lose momentum and valuable time, and actually led to frustration more than a couple of times. I really hope Robomodo patches this soon.
While Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a good game, it isn’t nearly as great as the two titles it draws its inspiration from. Robomodo’s take on the game could have been great, but various gameplay and graphical glitches hold it back. If you love Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater or enjoy fast-paced arcade gameplay, I recommend you try the game out. Just don’t hold your breath expecting the second coming of the Hawkman.