Monday, September 24, 2012

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD Gameplay Review

I'm playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD, a skateboarding game by Robomodo and Activision.

This game is a remake of Tony Hawk 1 and 2, the latter of which originally came out for the PC in 2000. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD features some notable skaters, though fewer than the original versions and with no create-a-skater mode to expand the content. The game centers around the career mode, although there are also pointless single session and free ride modes, in addition to some more exotic rules unlocked during the career. There are seven levels culled from the original games, unlocked by completing objectives in each map. Unfortunately, unlocked maps are per-skater only, which is annoying but new things open up pretty quickly. The trick shop allows you to use money earned by completing objectives to purchase new moves. Most notably, the PC version of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD does not feature any multiplayer: no LAN, nothing online, not even split screen. This is a very disappointing limitation that’s partially justified in the PC version’s lower price. The game also lacks the park editor, another missing feature of the original series. The controls are as they were: grinding, grabbing, ollies, and flipping are all a button press away. The game seems to progress at a slower pace, as I was unable to string together more than about two aerial tricks in a row; I am unsure whether this is due to slower skater speeds or sluggish animations (or poor skill on my part, of course). The level objectives involve attaining score levels, grabbing the elusive DVD, collecting the word “SKATE” and other objects, and performing specific tricks in precise areas. The map shows all of the locations of the collectables, which takes exploration out of the game if you want it to. While Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD runs at a fixed HD resolution of 720p, clipping and inconsistent collision physics and animations make it feel like an older game. The levels themselves look almost identical to their twelve-year-old counterparts, with no added effects to make the presentation more contemporary, and the soundtrack features a mix of old and new songs. While Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD does bring back nostalgic feelings about the original titles, it is a cheap (both in terms of price and quality) replica of those classic games. The lack of multiplayer and tedious unlocking of new content are significant shortcomings, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD feels archaic when compared against more recent Tony Hawk skating games. It is a mostly faithful remake of the first two games in the series, but it's missing several features found in the originals and adds nothing new to the formula to compensate.