Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD – Xbox 360
Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: July 18, 2012
Genre: Sports (Extreme Sports)
Nerd Rating: 5/10
Reviewed By: Steroid Gamer
The Tony Hawk franchise has been around for quite a long time. However, some of the franchise’s latest entries jarred heavily away from what made the earlier games so great, adding motion controls and even motion peripherals (the skateboard controller in Tony Hawk’s Ride was just atrocious). So, I was super excited to hear that developer Robomodo was going to be making a new entry catered towards the “older” style of games titled Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD.
First off, let me expain the whole “HD” thing. Obviously, the game is now in high definition but don’t get the name confused and believe this is a remake of the original, because it’s not. The recent trend in the game industry has been to re-release older titles in HD and bundle them up in one package. The Splinter Cell trilogy, Prince of Persia Trilogy, Kingdom Hearts Collection, and the list keeps on going. Well, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD isn’t like any of those bundled collections which is really unfortunate. It’s not the first game from the franchise, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 in their entirety. Instead it’s a mash-up of the two games put together with a new coat of HD paint.
So maybe I should begin by talking about the positives. The game is really reminiscent of the early titles….and that’s about it. Just about everything else this game has to offer is going to make any old school Tony Hawk fan want to give up the virtual sport forever. Let’s take a look at the roster. There are some old school favorites like Rodney Mullen, Eric Koston, Andrew Reynolds, and of course The Birdman himself. Then there are some “new” skaters (newer to the video game franchise but not necessarily skateboarding itself) like Chris Cole, Nyjah Huston, and Riley Hawk (Yes, Tony’s son whose technically not a pro yet). Then for some unknown reason there are two skaters by the name of Jake Harrison and Emily Weslund. I had NO FREAKING idea who these two kids where and it turns out nobody else does either. A quick internet search will tell you that these two people (are they even real?) appeared in the video game “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD” and that’s about it.
Now, let’s go over the games levels. There’s the “classic” Warehouse level found in the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (THPS) School II, Hangar, Mall, Downhill Jam, Venice Beach, and Marseille. Yup, that’s it. Those are the seven levels the game gives you….and that SUCKS. I’ve put countless hours into the Tony Hawk games and I can’t think of a worse selection of levels. It’s as if the developers asked themselves what could be the most repetitive selection of courses they could put into the game and did it. If you’re familiar with the franchise than you’ll know that some of the past games started putting in levels from the older games and so we’ve already seen these levels “updated”. For example, Tony Hawk’s Underground had the level School II in it, while Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 saw the Warehouse level. The point here is some of these “new” HD levels have already been re-done before, so why would they choose these levels over others that have never been re-done before? San Francisco, Minneapolis or Roswell from THPS, or New York and Philadelphia from THPS 2 would have been great choices.
None of those levels have ever been seen outside of the original games they were in. Then of course there’s the fact that both the Mall and Downhill Jam are in this game. Those levels are arguably two of the worst in the franchise’s history due to the fact that you are constantly moving down a giant hill and are forced to keep moving forward. With the game design these levels just clash with the style in which THPS games should be played, yet there both present here. If you were looking for parts from THPS 3 then you’re out of luck because they aren’t here. Unless of course you want to pay for the DLC which is overpriced for what you get. Oh, and I should probably mention the soundtrack is awful too, being mixed with all new songs to the series and songs from THPS 2. The soundtrack is not fitting for the game at all. The only good song (and the only one from THPS) is “Superman” by Goldfinger. It’s also the only song you’ll recognize and probably enjoy from the earlier games.
Enough about what’s in the game. How about the way it plays. There is your Career mode and your online mode. Online has series staples like Tag, Trick Attack, and a new mode called Big Head Survival which is just you and one other player battling against each other while your head grows bigger and bigger until it explodes. To prevent cranium explosion you simply have to keep scoring higher and higher combos than your opponent, and each time you land one your head size shrinks. You want to hear the really crappy part? There’s no two player split screen. So if you want to take Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD into multiplayer you’re going to need an Xbox Live account. Which is a real shame considering all of the previous entries had split screen co-op.
The career mode has several modes; Classic, Hawkman, Projectives, and Big Head Survival (this time it’s solo so you just play against nobody…fun right?). Hawkman is a new mode where you ride around a level and try to collect different colored “pellets” that correspond to a certain trick. For example, yellow pellets need to be collected from a grind trick while green pellets need to be collected by performing a manual. This mode is just as boring as it sounds.
Classic mode brings back the 2-minute run drill and also comes with the more familiar goals. Goals such as collecting the “hidden” DVD, collecting S.K.A.T.E., getting high scores, and tricking over object “X” by performing specific trick “Z”. It’s all very familiar but in a good way. This is a game that is supposed to be like the original just in an HD form, so having these types of goals is usually fun in nature. However, the game’s awful controls and “trick detection?” lead to nothing but frustrating moments one after another. What is trick detection you ask? Well, it’s something I made up similar to calling a shooter out on its poor hit detection. Basically half the time you try to perform a trick the game won’t recognize it. Especially if you get some air first, and then try to land on a rail (or any other grindable surface) and grind. Nine times out of ten the game won’t register the grind you’re trying to perform and this is the one thing that breaks the hell out of this HD version. Want to pull off a huge combo? Trying to get all the goals in one session? Well, good luck because half over your time is going to be spent trying over and over because the game just doesn’t register your tricks.
The older games where super fluid and had some of the best controls a video game has ever seen, and was part of the reason the franchise got so popular. Some of the later games required you to pull of some pretty crazy shit and was only possible due to the game’s quick response to button triggers. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD would NEVER be able to pull off some of the crazier things the later games expected of you. Which brings the other new mode the game comes with; Projectives. These are just harder goals for you to do on the same levels such as getting higher scores and collecting C-O-M-B-O. The twist this time is that they don’t unlock until you’ve beaten the goals in Classic mode first and that you no longer get the traditional 2-minutes of skate time. Now it’s been reduced to 1-minute. The 2-minutes tend to be pretty difficult at times to being with, and now the game decided to make it more challenging by taking one of the more nerve racking components, its clock, and making it shorter. Once you combine the repetitive goals, levels with the poor controls, and shorter clock in projectives mode you’ll find yourself wishing this game was what it could’ve been and not what it is.
Robomodo hits very few of the bullet points it should’ve in a Tony Hawk game. It doesn’t feel good to skate around and perform tricks, the levels are repetitive and dull, and the game is just flat out frustrating instead of fun. You feel as if the goals are hard not because you lack skill but because the game isn’t’ giving you the tools to succeed. The only good thing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD does is remind you how awesome the original games where. Do yourself a favor, dust off your old consoles, plug them in, and pop in the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games. You’ll have a much better experience reminiscing with the older titles and save yourself some headaches and money that come along with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD.
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