Between 1999 and 2004, the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series were must-have games for every then-current generation console owner at the time. The original Tony Hawk Pro Skater on the PS1 came as an enormous shock, as it ended up being a game that not only interested skaters, but also gamers who didn’t bother much with skateboarding before. It was challenging, with great controls, and a great soundtrack with a nice little montage of the skaters showing off their best tricks when you completed your run as that particular skater. As the series progressed it continued get better, with THPS 3 being a masterpiece on the PS2 (and still very good on the PS1). After this, the developers began to add stories to the career mode. More and more skaters got involved in the roster, and even the likes of the Jackass crew (with skater Bam Margara) left their mark on the series in Tony Hawk’s Underground 2. By this time, the games started to resemble the original less, and became more and more like Looney Toons in its challenges and stories. It didn’t take away from the games though, they remained excellent fun with excellent graphics for the time, amazing level design, and continued to have (mostly) great music.
By American Wasteland in 2005, it became evident that the series’ golden run was drawing to a close. It was still good, but it felt different…almost soulless. It, with every other instalment afterwards started to feel less fun, and more dumb. The controls continued to grow and evolve until it began to get ridiculous. The voice acting was very good before, but by Project 8 and Proving Ground it started to get really bad. Even after its decline in quality, games continued to be made for the series until its parent developer (the late great) Neversoft sold the rights to focus on Guitar Hero. And when its new parent Robomodo created Tony Hawk Ride and Tony Hawk Shred (both with their unresponsive and flawed skateboard controller), it was basically the final nail in the coffin containing the reputation of the series. You might even say that Tony Hawk and Sonic The Hedgehog are cut from the same branch. Both started off with revolutionary games, had a great serge of popularity that lasted a few years, were “cool” for the time, and now it’s either on life support, or it’s still waiting to release “that game”, the 1 that will reinvent or revitalise the whole series all over again.
In 2012, Robomodo decided to release this game that I’m reviewing today, and I need to make it clear to you, that this isn’t a remake of the original Tony Hawk Pro Skater that was on the Playstation 1. Instead, THPS HD is an anthology game, containing some of the more memorable levels in both Tony Hawk 1 and Tony Hawk 2, with 3 levels from Tony Hawk 3 and 4 available for download at a price. It contains a new roster of skaters, some familiar (like Rodney Mullen, Geoff Rowley, Andrew Reynolds and Eric Koston), some new (like Tony’s son Riley Hawk), and the celebrity guests this time come in the form of James Hetfield and Robert Trujillo from Metallica. The levels themselves are more or less exactly the same as they were in their original games (with hidden VHS tapes being replaced with DVD/Blu-ray), and the challenge also remains to a degree (we’ll get to the controls soon).
Graphics-wise, the game is not that special. They may look better than their PS1/PS2 originals, but as far as PS3 graphics are concerned, they’re not even as good as Project 8 or Proving Ground.
The music consists of several tracks from the first 3 games and some new tracks thrown in to freshen it up such as ‘Please Ask For Help’ by Telekinesis (who sound like an indie version of The Cure), the terrible-sounding, brain-kiling “Marathon Mansion” by Pegasuses XL, a song called “Teenage Blood” by Apex Manor (which made me laugh), Flyentology by El-P and featuring Trent Reznor (weird to see him here, or maybe not) and of course Pigeon John’s “The Bomb” which isn’t up to much other than being energetic and saying “I’m here”… We also have the inability to add or take away any of these songs or create your own soundtrack to skate to.
The controls are very stripped down, as it has chosen to go back to basics. It isn’t entirely a bad thing, as it is choosing to be closer to the experience of the original games in this instance. It’s not as smooth as the originals, or as fun, but it’s still okay despite being pretty clunky.
Would I recommend this game? Only if it’s dirt cheap and the original games become impossible to find and play. There is practically no reason for this game to exist, other than to be a demo or taster, and to point you in the direction of the originals. If you have a PS3, I would suggest getting Tony Hawk 1 and 2, as they will play on it. If you have an old 60gb PS3 that hasn’t died from the yellow light of death or a PS2, then get every game from 1 to Underground 2, because if graphics are not your main reason to be a gamer, then they’re worth it. Also, the online aspect of this game isn’t enough to save it. It’s difficult to care about getting the best score in the world at such a mediocre instalment of a once great series.
Graphics: ** out of 5
Music: * out of 5
Gameplay: **1/2 out of 5
Level Design: **** out of 5 (because they’ve changed little from the originals)
Replay Value: *** out of 5
Overall: **1/2 out of 5