It’s been a very long time since I was excited about anything with Tony Hawk’s name on it, sadly. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 seemed like the final nail in the Hawk’s gaming coffin, with its rushed release, poor gameplay, and awful reception.
It was my understanding that Activision had actually lost the Tony Hawk’s license, yet here we are with not just one, but two remakes of classic Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games. My expectations were very low, even if the fancy announcement trailer did look good; I’ve been taken in by trailers before, we all have. Remember Aliens: Colonial Marines?
This preview is based on the Warehouse demo that comes with pre-ordering any digital version of the game, so it’s just one level, and a small one at that. School II too much to ask for?
OK, so I’ve played around an hour of the demo, and that’s no small feat considering that the demo is confined to one level, one skater, and one game mode; the classic 2-minute session. Still, I enjoyed it, and I’m cautiously optimistic for the full release.
The controls are spot on and I had no trouble reverting back to my younger self and pulling off massive combos by stringing together flips, grabs, grinds, and manuals. It all just felt right, mostly. I did have some moments where I’d bail off my board and send the ageing Hawk headfirst into the ground, and for the most part, these moments were deserved, but some felt a little off. I don’t know if it’s me or the game, but considering I haven’t played a decent Tony Hawk game for about 15 years, it’s probably me.
The graphics are brilliant, too, and a far cry from that hot mess we’ve all tried to forget from a few years back. Gone are the dodgy cartoony outlines, replaced with a more realistic take. The Hawk even has some voice, too, though I’m not sure if it’s actually him or a stand-in. They aren’t big lines of dialogue, mind you, just grunts and “whoa” during the course of play, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless. There’s one graphical feature I’m not too keen on though, and that’s when you bail off your board. Instead of the animation where the skater picks themselves up and hops back on their wheels, it’s kind of like a mini-teleportation with a weird gamey/sci-fi look to it. It keeps the pace of the game going forward, sure, but it just looks a bit out of place. If that’s the biggest problem I’ve got with the game, we’re onto a winner.
The level itself was really small, much smaller than I remember it being, though, after a bit of YouTubing, I realised I was thinking about the Hangar level from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, and the Warehouse is from the first game which, admittedly, I didn’t play that much of.
Growing up, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 was my introduction to skating, with the now-famous soundtrack blaring loudly from my crappy 18-inch bedroom TV.
“Lights out, we’re on the radio…”
The Tony Hawk games were cultural phenomenons, propelling the sport of skateboarding into the mainstream. Kids like me, who ordinarily played football (soccer) were inspired to get down to the local skate park and wobble on a board until the inevitable happened: broken bones. I broke my ankle trying to replicate a grind I’d played on the PlayStation, and my friends even captured it on video, in true early 2000s fashion when every teenager wanted to be the next Jackass. Unfortunately, that video has long gone and the only remnant is my slight limp. I reckon, if all goes to plan and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 turn out to be good, we’ll see a few more wobbly teenagers with broken bones, which is preferable to fat arses.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 releases on September 4th for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.