Tony Hawk is back and once again lending his name to a skateboarding video game. Gone are the feeble attempts at skateboarding in the living room with a defunct floor controller, and now we have will have a controller in hand again. The team over at Activision has decided to do a complete turn-around and bring back what made the Tony Hawk games in the late 90s great. However, does this method work for the gamers of 2012? Activision has just released Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD for the legions of gamers who play Xbox Live Arcade games, but Playstation and Windows fans should not get too discouraged; the game will be heading to those platforms in the future.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD will bring back lots of fond memories for gamers who are in their late 20’s and early 30’s. It pays great respect to the first two Tony Hawk games some 12 years ago, bringing back 7 levels from these classic games. These levels include the Warehouse, School Yard, and Venice. Grinds, heel kicks, and unrealistic spin combos are still major factors in creating an amazingly fun atmosphere. The soundtrack for THPS HD continues to honor the first two games in the series; all songs in the updated version have appeared in either Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 or 2. Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD has done an excellent job in regards to providing gamers with massive amounts of nostalgia.
However, THPS HD does bring exciting features to the series for gamers who are new to Tony Hawk titles. Perhaps the best part of playing the game is choosing which character one wants to be. Choose from a lineup of skaters including Tony Hawk, Eric Koston, Rodney Mullen, and your very own Avatar. Playing as your own avatar is a fantastic, can’t miss option in the game. It provides gamers with a bit of personality and personalization in an otherwise repetitive game.
The standard online play has been expanded to include different modes. Gamers can compete in Graffiti mode, which allows gamers to “Tag” ramps and railings. Also available is Free Skate, a mode where the player with the highest score gets all the glory. Finally, there is a trick attack mode, where players are tasked with completing the most tricks in a set amount of time. These modes seem generic and expected; however, there is one level where excellence is achieved. “Big Head” mode pits players with ever-growing heads against each other. To shrink your head back down to a normal size, the player needs to complete tricks and combos. Fail or perform sub-par tricks and your head will grow and eventually explode; the game continues until one player remains. Big Head mode is a must play for owners of this game.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD does have room for improvement, though. First, and most glaring, are the glitches during game play. Your player and your avatar can have an unrealistic crash landing. Fall off the rail and the player ends up floating around in mid-air until the game decides to correct itself. Gamers will also notice a longer than average load time when getting back on the board, which can be particularly frustrating when shooting for a high score and bailing at the last minute. By the time the skater is ready to go again, gamers could already be out of time.
THPS HD lacks offline multiplayer mode. Yes, this game offers online matches, but one of the best features of the older games was being able to compete against people in the same room. This issue will be overlooked by the newer fans, but will be sorely missed by the veterans.
Since its release, Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD has seen over 120,000 downloads. Whether you’re a gamer who remembers playing the originals on your Playstation/Nintendo 64 or just a skateboarding fan, the issues are easy to overcome. Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD is worth the space on your Xbox’s hard drive, and we know you’ll love it as much as you used to.
This review is based on a review copy of the XBLA version of Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD by Activision