Re-View: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD
Re-View: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD
When Tony Hawkís Pro Skater first came out some 12 years ago, I wanted nothing to do with it. It was skateboard related and therefore idiotic. Everything about skateboarding annoyed me. The music was noisy and dumb, the fashion was designed by wealthy people pretending to be poor and colour blind and the actual activity itself seemed like a slow and painful suicide.
That didn't mean I wasn't impressed by the feats pulled off by people like Tony Hawk and Bob Burnquist - the stuff they did was amazing and seemed to defy my limited understanding of the laws of nature. But I never actively viewed anything they did - I just didn't have a choice given how freaking ubiquitous it and all of those 'EXTREME' sports were back at the turn of the millenium.
Nevertheless, one of my brothers insisted we get it for the Playstation - and we loved it. We would sit there all day passing the controller and besting each other's tricks, attempting to get the highest score. It was a blast and it grew into an affection I still have today for skating games - if not any other aspect of that culture.
We got THPS2 when it came out - especially eager to play as Spider-man and we were just as eager when THPS3 came out. Then I began to grow up, gaining responsibilities and losing the time to play any game I wasn't desperate to get my hands on. I played some of the demos of the later games, but none of them really grabbed my attention.
And then skate. came out. And it changed everything. The physics engine combined with open world playstyle and incredibly intuitive controls breathed life back into the skateboarding genre (sub-genre?) Playing skate. with my brothers and friends was even better than playing THPS had been - there were new ways to compete and the controls were simple enough for anyone to pick up - if you had any concept of a controller, you could play skate. and people who would normally sit on the sidelines in a friendly competition like this had a chance to join in on the fun.
And now Activision have released Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD. It's not a simple HD remake of the first THPS, it's a blend of content from both the first and second games, redone on a new engine built for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It features classic stages, music and skaters from the first two games, with some new additions mixed in.
The controls are the same as ever - A crouches and jumps, Y grinds, wall rides and does lip tricks and X and B control your flip tricks and grabs respectively. The trigger buttons allow you to rotate left and right when youíre in mid-air and also control your stance switched. Itís not long before everything starts coming back and youíre shooting into the air doing 720 Japan Airís with the best of them.
Many popular stages return - Warehouse, School II and Venice Beach being three I was very happy to see - and they are mixed in with other stages I was less excited to see like Mall and Downhill Jam. Then there are some notable omissions - how could they leave out Roswell?
Itís strange to go back to tiny stages too - and while they eliminate noticeable loading times, they arenít the only issue. The controls of THPS HD are familiar to me because I learned them all back when I was younger - but to a newcomer they are incredibly obtuse. The real issue is, while THPS HD tickles that old nostalgic part of anyone who played the original games, for anyone who didnít it feels like a poorly designed substitute for skate.
The engine itself has some peculiarities. Graphically THPS HD is nothing special, but itís by no means bad - and you can play as your Xbox Live Avatar if you grow tired of being Bob Burnquist, Tony Hawk or all of the other skaters Iím not familiar with. It has its fair share of bugs however - I donít think Iíve played for a half hour stretch yet where at some point I didnít screw up a grind or trick only to fling 10 metres into the air.
And then there is the soundtrack. Sweet mother. The soundtrack is made up of 7 songs from the original THPS and THPS 2 and 7 new songs Activision apparently fished out of the garbage. There are three decent songs in the entire list - Public Enemy featuring Anthrax - Bring the Noise, Goldfinger - Superman and the ever-ridiculous Powerman 5000 - When Worlds Collide. Bad Religionís You is on there too, if you like that kind of thing. Everything else is trash.
Worse still, either I have the worst luck in history or the game has been engineered to play the new, infinitely worse songs more often than the old, actually decent songs. One track - the preposterously awful We the People by someone called Lateef the Truthspeaker - played, was followed by something else, played again, followed by another track and then played a third time. Itís like going to a high school party run by a kid with only two singles in his collection and the worst musical taste in history.
But that doesnít make it a bad game for those of us with the memories. Itís arcadey and light, but itís fun to roll across the maps searching for hidden letters, watching the track and figuring out the best path to get everything as quickly as possible, then busting out tricks across gaps as the time runs out. I donít much care for the idea of having to pay for reverts or additional levels in DLC, but itís nice to be able to revisit my youth. With the music off.
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