So here I am, doing everything I can, holding on to what I am, pretending I'm a superman!
Chances are those of you familiar with Tony Hawk's have just sung that last line to yourself in your heads. Or better still hopefully you are reading this review at school or work and have just burst into song, if so then I apologise Sir/Boss.
What we have here with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD isn't so much an HD port of the first game, it's more an HD version of some of the best bits from the first and second game. Poor old Tony has fallen off his lofty perch recently, he probably tried to do a trick on the useless plastic board peripherals he has been ramming down our throats and damn near killed himself.
With this release updating the classic, less gimmicky games we need to ask ourselves one question. Is Tony still a superman, or should he pop shove it.
As I have said, this game is a cobbled together update of some of the best bits from the first two games brought to us with updated graphics so our modern eyes don't start to resemble the many painful guises of the old Neversoft eye. I mention Neversoft as they were the developers for the old TH games, here development duties have been passed to Robomodo, as they continue with the series following their attempts to kill it with TH: Ride & Shred.
The first level you will play is the Warehouse. Players of original Tony Hawks will feel instantly at home as you begin to touch up your skills. Initially this will take a bit of getting used to, the earlier TH games didn't give us as much freedom as the later ones. Here you will find your self glued to your board, none of that running, climbing and messing about post THUG players are used to. Not a major issue in my opinion, however, there are excluded elements that you will miss more which I will go through later.
There are a few different game modes on offer, from the obligatory online, to free skate and the pill collecting Hawkman mode. Nothing to get too excited about as the main portion of your time will be spent in single player career mode. Career mode goes right back to basics, 2 minutes on the clock to explore the level and meet certain criteria such as high scores, hidden DVD's and collecting skate letters. Some of you may find this a bit restrictive after playing some of the other TH games with their expansive game worlds, for me, this is how Tony Hawk's games are meant to play. The only thing that really angers me here is the change from hidden tapes to hidden DVD's, petty but annoying for a grumpert such as myself.
How does it play? I hear you ask. For the most part it plays just how you'd expect, which is pretty good. Although I must say I envy those of you with the newer 360 controllers with the twisty D-Pad as this game will have a much better feel using those pads. TH was always designed to use a D-Pad as opposed the analogue sticks and using the older pads really can create difficulties in inputting some tricks as well as making it really hard to stop sometimes. It's something you will get used to eventually but can mar your enjoyment of the title.
Stripping the game play and controls back to basics is a good thing, however, some mechanics implemented as early as TH3 are sorely missed, mainly the revert. Some things such as flatland tricks can easily be done without but taking the revert away really shows you how much you missed it in the old days without even knowing.
If you didn't know, the revert was a move allowing you to spin your board around shortly after landing from a quarter/half pipe. Using this allowed you to continue your combo after coming off a pipe or ramp allowing you to aim for huge scores. Without it you will land and boom, combo over. The revert will be coming for the planned TH3 DLC, but it will only be usable for the DLC levels. It is just something I really missed.
Speaking of missing content there is plenty missing from this semi remake. Far too much is missing for the price tag. There are only a handful of skaters to choose from and only 7 levels to play. Not enough when this is a joint effort from two previous retail games and don't even get me started on the removal of the horse mode and the skating videos. It was always great finishing the game and being rewarded with first videos of people hurting themselves and then videos of the pro you had been playing as for all that time. It seems that content is Tony Hawk's Kryptonite.
All is not lost. Complete career mode and you are rewarded with Projectives. Similar to the standard career and played on the same levels you now have a reduced time limit of 1 minute. 1 minute to complete harder tasks than you had to do before. Gone are the skate letters, now you must get a series of letters that spell combo in, you guessed it, one continuous combo. The high scores required are also a lot tougher. I definitely had the most fun in this mode, the greater the challenge, the greater the feel of reward.
So ironically the Tony Hawk series has had to go back to the past in order to move forward. Pro Skater HD is a definite step in the right direction, it's just a crying shame that it's such a stripped back version, it could have put the series back where it belongs. It feels like you are paying too high a price for half a game. What is here is great fun as long as you don't mind the restrictiveness of the old formula. Fans of the games will feel aggrieved if their favourite character or level are missing but should still enjoy the trip down memory lane and if your favourite level is missing I have heard a rumour that Activision like money, so you still may see these levels released as DLC.
Overall I'd say Tony has just about kept his balance, an enjoyable game but newcomers, try before you buy.
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Review: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD
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