Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD
OverviewPlatform: Xbox 360
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series gets lashed with a fresh coat of HD pixel paint.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD is essentially an amalgamation of bits and pieces from the first two entries in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series lashed with a fresh coat of HD pixel paint (I think that’s how they do these HD remakes). As a huge fan of the first three entries in the Tony Hawk’s series, I was concerned that this HD remake might lead me to discover that my memories of the series’ greatness was almost as delusional as my belief that I would be able to learn to skate after originally playing the first two games. I’m pleased to report this is not the case — this HD remake remains fun to play, if not quite so much as the first time round.
For those not familiar with the series, the games main career mode confronts the player with a number of objectives which must be completed over a series of two minute runs. These include high score goals, collecting items and clearing specified gaps. Completing a certain number of objectives unlocks the next level and once you have access to all seven of Tony Hawk’s levels, it’s down to your completionist instincts to finish things off.
Those veterans who are entirely familiar with the series will be pleased to note that in terms of gameplay, everything feels decidedly familiar, despite the fact that this HD remake is constructed in an entirely new engine. Developers Robomondo have done a good job of ensuring that each stage looks exactly as you remember it and as a result, skating through classic levels like Warehouse, School II and Venice Beach gives you that nice fuzzy nostalgic feeling you would expect.
Of course this nostalgia is as much evoked by the sounds of Pro Skater HD as it is by the sights. Roughly half the games soundtrack is comprised of music which has become deeply embedded in the consciousness of THPS fans across the globe. Disappointingly, the other half of the soundtrack is completed with songs new to the franchise – a strange decision given the fact that the soundtracks from the original THPS games were universally praised.
The lack of a create-a-skater mode also left me feeling surprisingly let down, as did the overall level of content included in the game. Now don’t get me wrong, for those who want to 100% the game, Pro Skater HD will keep you occupied for a fair amount of time. Nevertheless, having access to only seven levels naturally leaves the seasoned THPS player thinking about what is missing and consequently, what could have been. In defence of THPS HD, this is a downloadable game, priced at a reasonable 1200 MS points on Xbox Live, so there was always going to be a lot missing. It’s also worth noting for those hungry for more that DLC has already been announced which will add some levels from THPS 3, although how many is not yet clear.
Another element which helped to make the original THPS games so popular was its split screen multiplayer mode – for those hoping to resume old couch rivalries I’m afraid this is option is also absent. However, online Multiplayer is available with the classic graffiti and trick attack modes returning alongside a new expanding big head elimination mode. Online play seems fairly stable, although I confess I’ve not spent much time in the lobbies – online play just doesn’t appeal as much as those classic battles of HORSE with friends.
THPS HD retains many of the familiar features which made the original versions so enjoyable such as ridiculous physics, massive combos and great level design. This HD remake remains faithful to its source material and for this at least the game should be praised. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel disappointed by what is missing from THPS HD and while the game remains enjoyable, it’s nowhere near as much fun to play as it was the first time around. What is there is THPS as I remember it, but for whatever reason, I don’t have the same desire to persevere and overcome those maddening, tricky, yet ultimately satisfying objectives as I did in the past.