Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 is by no means a terrible game. By now most of you will have heard about the infamy of its ‘bugginess’ but that has been partially resolved with various patches. That’s not to say that it is a great game. It’s just an average game riddled with issues, poor graphics and glitches that makes it feel unfinished.
As soon as you boot up the game and look through the menus you realise how little attention to detail has been taken. Some characters on the character select screen have no names next to their avatar. You can also customise any skater to look like whatever you want, but can’t at any point create your own. Straight away it feels like a game that needed to tickbox some features but lacked the time to implement them effectively.
Booting up the first free skate mode may seem quite cool at first. It’s nice to see a skate park filled with other skaters, even if they do warp all over the place at times. It’s the second you try to go in to one of the missions you realise how haphazardly they have been implemented. It’s a shame because some of the missions, although repetitive at times, are quite fun. Accessing them however is the chore.
Although there are markers littered around the skate park to trigger missions this is unnecessary as you can just go to the options menu and select from there. On several occasions actually the mission markers seemed to not want to accept my button prompt to trigger them, so I gave up even trying to skate to them. Doing this actually increased my enjoyment of the game but the chore to get in to the missions isn’t even to do with the markers not working properly.
Accessing a mission takes you out of free skate and in to a loading screen. It then brings you back to the skate park you’re in. IT THEN boots up the mission screen and asks whether or not you want to accept it. Then you can hit X and get going. Tony Hawk games in the past were all about the quickness of doing things. Really these missions should be intertwined with the free skate in some way but it’s forgivable they’re not. What isn’t forgivable is how long it takes to jump in to the mission and restart the mission if you fail.
It’s all just too long. The OlliOlli series has embraced the quick restart beautifully and in games where the focus is often racking up points that is what’s needed. It’s something that makes Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 feel dated, and not in a way that makes you have the nostalgic pang of the older Pro Skater games.
After a while you, much like I, may get used to the loading times. It’s when you accept that this isn’t the perfect continuation of the Pro Skater franchise you want that you can start having fun with the game. When it comes to just skating around and going for massive combos there’s still a lot of fun to be had. The levels are hit or miss but most have at least one section that is fun to skate around.
For the levels that are more miss than hit though the problem isn’t just a poorly placed ramp. Out of bound areas crop up that are very easy to end up in and when you land in them you don’t even get to see a humorous rag doll bail. Instead the screen fades to white and teleports you back to an area near by. For a game with some fairly amusing physics at time it’s a shame that the developers didn’t look to utilise this flaw.
It’s not just when you go out of bounds though, it’s also when you fall over. Watching a model rag doll in an extreme sports game has long been something embraced by developers. For whatever reason though it was decided that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 will just respawn itself. It’s a shame because there’s no animation for getting up, which means online has people warping about the place once they bail. Not only that though but the bails are some of the funniest things in this game and you just don’t get enough time to laugh at them.
The fact that bailing is one of the funniest things in the game is almost definitely not intentional. The games missions are littered with “LOL RANDOM” kind of objectives and some are implemented very half-heartedly. In an early mission I had to collect marshmallows and toast them, in another I had to hit some flying droids. All of this would be fun if the controls were tight enough to steer at these things with ease. Unfortunately they’re not.
Flips and grabs work fine, as do manuals. The new slam button, which for some ridiculous reason is mapped to the grind button, takes some time to get used to but is a handy thing to have. Especially when you can see that a trick is about to go sour. It’s just general moving about that’s the issue, and without the opportunity to get off your board, like had become the norm in skating games, trying to get to an objective can be frustrating.
General moving about is obviously a very important part of a skateboarding game. Much like everything else you do learn to compensate but you have to have the patience to do that. Outside of the gameplay mechanics Create a Park seems fun and easy to use, although it also caused my game to crash a few times. I played a few player created parks and thought the quality was pretty good. In fact I found the levels better than some of the developer created ones.
You’ve also got a pretty good soundtrack, something that has always been part of the appeal of Tony Hawk games. There are some really fun tracks to skate around to from pop punk, hip-hop, rock and dance artists. The loading screen changes the tracks though, which can be frustrating when a good song comes on. Especially when a big part of the game is going in to missions.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 could’ve been great. It’s the first 3D skateboarding game of this generation and all it really had to do was deliver an experience a bit better than the likes of Proving Ground and Project 8, just modernised to 2015. It failed to do that though, creating an experience that feels like a step backwards for the series. There’s still fun to be had, especially if you can grab the game in the sales, but it’s a disappointing installment you’ll probably soon put to one side.
+ Skateboarding can be fun
+ Great soundtrack
+ Create a park can produce some good parks
- The slam button mapped to grind
- Graphically poor
- Feels unfinished