The Birdman Returns...But Is It for the Best?
Written by Super User
Published Tuesday, 24 July 2012 20:00
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is the amalgamation of the first two Pro Skater games recreated in high definition for today’s graphical standards. Made with the original Neversoft code, one would think that it would be as great and as fun to play as the originals. That one was me and I thought wrong.
THPS HD is developed by Robomodo, the company behind the not-so-great Tony Hawk: Ride and Tony Hawk: Shred. Though I had some doubts before release, I was still quite sure I would love it. The game appeared on the Xbox Live Marketplace around 2:30 am PST but an error rendered me and my fellow fans unable to purchase it until around 5:30 am. This only built the suspense and my eagerness to play.
"All in all Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is still fun, but not worth its $15 price tag."
When I finally was able to launch the game, I was greeted with the nostalgic sounds of Goldfinger’s "Superman". I had not heard that song for at least 10 years, and yet it seemed so very familiar. Something was missing though. It was the Neversoft logo. More specifically the Neversoft eye and its amusing hijinks. This disappointment was coupled with the lack of a video introducing the skaters and showing us why they’re pros. I knew I had to get past these minor disappointments and continue on.
The menu looks bright, crisp, and fits well with the game’s vibe. When I go to check out the skaters, I find that of the ten skaters available, only five appeared in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. No Chad Muska, no Jamie Thomas, and no Bob Burnquist. They have been replaced by more popular and current skaters like Nyjah Huston and Chris Cole. On the plus side, the ever amusing Officer Dick is back, but unfortunately Spider-Man is nowhere to be seen.
The levels feel fresh and personified while still maintaining their nostalgia. The secret tape on each level has been modernized to become the secret DVD (likely to be a secret Blu-Ray on the PS3 release). My biggest gripe is that only seven levels were chosen to be remade in HD, a few less than THPS1. This is unacceptable considering the iOS version of THPS2 has eleven levels. Those eleven include all the levels the HD version has - save for Mall - and it only costs $1.99. This lack of maps is made up for with the new game modes: Big Head Survival and Projective. They’re fun, but inexperienced players are sure to have a tough time with them.
There are some unwelcome additions included in this game that are totally unnecessary. When you bail (fall off your board) the screen turns white and resets your skater back on their board. This stops the fluidity of the gameplay and becomes annoying quickly. Secondly, the player can pause and see where each goal is on the map which makes that secret DVD not-so-secret. I expect this to be used in a "Games Are Getting Too Easy" article by somebody in the near future. And finally, the music is scarcely quiet and drowned out by the sound effects. Although, that may not be a completely bad thing...
The music has always been a big part of the Tony Hawk series. Robomodo said they spent a lot of time deciding which songs would get into the game, but that can’t be true. The fourteen song soundtrack is half classic, half new. Only two, three at the most, of the new songs sound like they belong in the game, and there is only one song returning from THPS1. Where is "Police Truck", "Cyco Vision", or "Guerrilla Radio"? There are twenty-five songs between the first two Pro Skater games and only seven are present when all of them should be. Shred had over sixty songs in its soundtrack, so it is tough to accept having so few in this game.
There are many things missing from this title, such as create-a-park and split-screen, that keep it from being a truly great recreation. According to Robomodo, they "didn’t have the time and resources" to produce split-screen, though I have yet to hear the reason for the exclusion of create-a-park. Playing as your avatar is the closest you’re going to get to create-a-skater, and the option to skip the current music track has disappeared altogether. The latter is the most annoying because the sparse soundtrack gets repetitive really quickly.
If you played the classic versions like I did, chances are you will be disappointed with all the things that Robomodo left out. There was so much potential but not enough was delivered to live up to it. All in all, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is still fun, but not worth its $15 price tag. I don’t find it as addictive as the original, but I’m on my third playthrough already so they must have gotten something right.
Release date : 2012-07-18
Publisher : Activision
Developer : Robomodo
Gameplay : Sports
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