Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Review (Xbox 360)
Tony Hawk may well be retired from the extreme sport of skateboarding, but like Tom Clancy and “his” series of games, that hasn’t stopped the Hawk from getting his name splashed all over Activision’s eponymous skateboarding franchise.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that branding is not a mark of excellence and that understated is usually better; you need only look at the last entries into the series and the landfill site now inundated with plastic skateboard peripherals.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is refreshing in a new old fashioned way. While newcomers may snarl at the simplistic nature of pulling off crazy moves, ever since EA answered back with the Skate franchise, it still holds quite a deal of challenge.
The game is a mash-up of the first two games, and picks some of the best levels, but clearly not all the fan favourites. After all, you need to have some content to make up DLC packs.
While later installments allowed players to pull off ridiculous high score runs that far exceed anything seen in the original titles (all thanks to the revert-to-manual trick that keeps half pipe combos going for an eternity), THPSHD keeps the original formula and forces players to land their own tricks with no assistance.
It’s a shock to the system, but veterans of the series will fall back into their old ways in no time, and they’ll be grinding up the levels and exploring the secret areas that they loved so much. It’s a game that makes you work for your points.
It’s clear that the developers weren’t ignorant of the masses who prefer waypoints, and a little handholding, and so they saw fit to include a handy map that details the secrets, collectibles and gaps in each level. Purists may vent, but this is a release trying to grab the attention of a younger audience.
The classic multiplayer game modes are still intact and it’s always great to pit your skills against someone with as much love for the classic as you do. The option for online player doesn’t harm the longevity of the game either.
Slapping a fresh lick of paint over the game has worked wonders and it’s as bright and vibrant a game as always. There’s love in this conversion, something of a rarity in the market of HD remakes, and it shows.
THPSHD is a pure and honest slice of humble pie for anyone looking for an easy ride, but it’s also a fantastic piece of gaming history all prettied up. It may not have aged as well as some would have liked to think (it’s gameplay and mechanics are quite dated at this point), but it’s a game that brings with it a sense of nostalgia.
Who knows, perhaps this remake will spawn a real sequel for the franchise, and everyone can forget about Ride and its gimmicky controller.