Monday, October 1, 2012

An Honest Review: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD

I can't write this coming from a passive angle. The Pro Skater series of games are among my favorites and Pro Skater 2 is not only my all-time favorite but its the one I cut my teeth on when it came to calling myself a gamer. So you can understand my utter disappointment when I say that Pro Skater HD is quite possibly the worst of the worst of the Tony Hawk games. Worse than even Ride and Shred. At least those two attempted something new. Pro Skater HD has us believing that it came to fruition to fix all the wrongs of the past few games. A revisiting of what was once greatness. An acceptance to the fans that the games can still hold their own.
Instead it cements the hopeless resurrection of the franchise.
At this point, Robomodo just needs to exit the gaming business. Their constant failures of games means meager profits for parent company Activision and they've wasted so much money on doing the wrong things. I find it funny how Tony Hawk himself was kind of "meh" about the whole idea of returning to the roots. Yes, it is what fans wanted, but we never wanted this. The amount of pros that signed up to return can be counted on one hand. The rest are amateurs that somehow got popular enough to make it in. I guess the others knew this game was going to suck so they all stepped away from it.

While I love the Unreal Engine 3, its versatility is completely wasted here. When I first heard the announcement I figured it would be a few levels from the first two Pro Skaters with just  HD re-skins. Instead the entire game is built from the ground up using UE3. This translates to a wonky, glitched, and pathetic remake. This engine is best suited for real-life physics and shooter games, not the arcade action of the Pro Skater variety. Had the original Pro Skater 2 engine just been used it would have been understandable and would have made for a better game overall.

I'll get the graphics portion out of the way and say that while its awesome to see the old levels get a facelift they're still the same. No new areas, no hidden secrets, same old, same old. If you've played the first two then expect de ja vu. Yes, there are a few small variations added to some of the levels but adding a kicker or planter doesn't make it more exciting.

Outright frustrating, the controls have suffered the most, making it nearly unplayable at times. Automatically snapping to rails when grinding or not grinding at all, rag doll bails that can sometimes force the character through the ground, unachievable heights due to a change in controls, and the glitches... OH SWEET TAP-DANCING JESUS. THE GLITCHES. The game is playable for the most part until you find your skaters foot stuck in a rail somehow after what should have been a normal grind. Then you start to realize that the game is seriously screwed up on an engine implementation level.

One major thing missing is the beloved Create-A-Skater from Pro Skater 2. Instead, for the XBLA version, we get our Avatars to skate around with. Create-A-Park? Just a memory. Couch co-op? Nope, its online only.

The soundtrack is pieced together with some old favorites from the past and some really horrible indie stuff from today. Its a sad mixture that lets you know that the hardcore, punk, do-it-yourself, push-the-envelope skaters of the olden days have disappeared and whats left are teenagers with flat-brim hats, Monster energy drinks, and piercings thinking they're evolving a sport that has been stagnant since Hawk landed the 900. (Yes, I know, a kid has landed a 1080, but I don't see him winning competitions left and right.) Let's face it, the skateboarding craze of over 10 years ago has cooled and this game does nothing to relive those memories.

I've played through Pro Skater on PS1, N-Gage, N64, GBC, and Dreamcast,. I've played through Pro Skater 2 on PS1, DC, GBC, GBA, PC, N64, and Xbox (when I say my all-time favorite, I mean it). I've gone through the levels so many times I know them by heart. Here, playing through Pro Skater HD is just a chore. Its boring. Slow. Uninteresting. Non-challenging in the sense that the only thing holding the player back are the bad physics.

I can't go on.
I'm usually good with words but now they just fail me. 
This game is horrible. That's all there is to it.
You're better off spending $15 buying the first two Pro Skater games on any available console than wasting your money on this. At least you'll get more content, entertainment, and value from something from the past.

Keep Playing.