Game Review: Tony Hawk’s HD [Xbox 360/PS3/PC]
This review is based off the Xbox 360 version of the title. The game will be releasing later this year for both the PS3 and PC
There are a lot of games these days that are getting the HD treatment, these mainly just consist of updating the graphics slightly, adding trophies, achievements and occasionally supporting 3D. So it’s nice to see that Tony Hawk’s HD does things slightly differently.
The core gameplay remains the same as the first two Pro Skater games, so things like revert, which were introduced in Pro Skater 3, are not in this game (though they will be coming at a later date in the form of DLC). If you have never played the original Tony Hawk’s games, the controls are easy to grasp, one button does grab tricks, another flip and one that does grinds. Each trick can be manipulated with the direction you hold the left stick in. When you have mastered the basics, you will be pulling off crazy combos in no time and it can provide a lot of thrills as you try and rank up in the newly added leaderboards.
The core gameplay remains the same as it was all those 12 years ago, back then the controls felt great and was hugely satisfying to pull of awesome tricks and link them together to get some crazy high scores. To this day it’s still a lot of fun ranking up high scoring tricks, and the controls are perfectly fine, problem is though, games have evolved since 1998, so the game does feel quite dated mechanically. This isn’t to say that it’s bad by any means, and there will surely be fans of the original who love the way it plays, but it doesn’t feel quite as solid that newer players to the series might expect. The main word to describe the feel of the game is nostalgic, so fans of the series will probably love this. for everyone else though this is a hit and miss factor. The Skate series require skill and patience to pull of even the most basic of tricks seen in Tony Hawk’s games, whereas Tony Hawk’s is more about fun and the fantasy of pulling off some unique tricks.
There are three game modes to start off with, with another three unlocked as you progress through the game. Career mode sees you trying to complete several objectives in a level within a time limit of 2 minutes, these objectives range from getting a high score, collecting the letters of the word ‘skate’ or finding the secret tape etc. Part of the fun from the original was trying to find the locations of these objectives, but for some reason a map has been included which tells you where EVERYTHING IS, even including secret locations. Of course you don’t have to look at this, but there will be people who do and they’ll likely finish the career in under an hour due to the fact that only 7 levels are included in the game. Granted these are the best of the first 2 titles, but you will grow tiresome of playing the same levels over and over again. That being said, if you play through the career mode without looking at the maps, it will certainly be a fun experience on your first playthrough. The other two modes are free skate and single session whereby you have 2 minutes to get the highest score you can.
As I said though, there are an additional three modes which can be unlocked. Hawkman sees you trying to collect different kinds of pellets each one needing either a grind, grab or manual to collect them, the player scores points by doing it in a certain time limit. Projective mode is unlocked when you 100% all the levels with a character and is similar to career mode, however with this you only have 1 minute to complete a set of brand new objectives. My personal favourite mode of the game though is Big Head Survival, in which you have to constantly perform tricks to stop your head from exploding, as time goes on you will have to perform higher scoring tricks to prevent your untimely demise.
Multiplayer modes have also been included, but only online as there is no split screen multiplayer, which is a bad decision not to include. Fun can be had in the online game modes, but one factor I really did not like is the collision. When you’re competing against four other people to get the highest score, the last thing you want is for your trick combo to end because someone runs into you. I wish there could have been a feature where you just pass through other players as it can be really frustrating to see your high score disappear because someone crashes into you. Apart from this though it can be fun, especially Big Head Survival mode as it can really get tense.
Aspects from Tony Hawk’s 2, such as create a character and skate park are missing which is disappointing to see as it could have provided a lot more replayability, especially if you could have shared them online with the rest of world to see and play in.
The biggest aspect of the game that caught my attention was the graphics, all the levels and characters have been completely redone to stand toe to toe with some of the best looking XBLA games. The soundtrack comprises of the best songs found in the first two games and some new ones, which are ok but not quite as memorable as the original songs.
Although the graphics have seen a great improvement, there are some annoying technical issues that hinder the experience greatly. For example my guy could bail out of a trick and end up flying extremely high until he comes crashing back down, this can last at least 5 seconds and can cost you greatly in career mode. While it wasn’t a regular occurance, the physics in this game are sometimes fiddly and can severely frustrate.
Since the original Tony Hawk’s game, we have come along way with the skating genre, particularly EA’s Skate which is a lot more satisfying to play with its unique control scheme. Tony Hawk’s HD does provide a lot of nostalgia and veteran fans of the series will have a blast playing this, for everyone else though you’re better off sticking with the Skate franchise.
Tony Hawk’s HD is available now for 1200 Microsoft points on XBLA, and will arrive at a later date for both PS3 and PC.