High definition versions of gaming classics have been popping up all over the place these past few years and have proved hugely successful with gamers new and old. The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise has seen some dramatic changes over the year which includes some interesting peripherals and a huge roster of skaters. With fans screaming for a visit to the roots of the franchise, it seems Activision has listened and brought back a taste of first two games in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD.
For long term fans of the series, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD will be a blast from the past but instead of simply giving the game a visual improvement, developer Robomodo have gone the extra mile and have included an array of new features to the game including multiplayer modes that are supported by Xbox Live. The single player only has seven levels handpicked from the first two games such as Venice Beach, Downhill Jam and fan favourite, School II. It’s a shame only these seven levels made the cut for the HD version as there are so many other fantastic levels that could have been included and even for a newcomer the levels can be completed in a few short hours. The only thing that prolongs the gameplay is the fact you must complete the objectives on each level with every skater to unlock everything the game has to offer.
There’s a decent selection of skaters such as Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen and Officer Dick and you can also skate as your avatar which is a very odd experience but well worth the go at least once. The skaters will have to complete certain objectives on each level to earn some money such as collect the letters S-K-A-T-E, gain three different scores, find a secret DVD and then a selection of unique challenges depending on the level. You can also collect money by checking all the nooks and crannies of each level which is then used to buy extra stat points and tricks. Through the progression of your skater you’ll be able to finish objectives you were having difficulty with and go for those all-important high scores which you can compare with your friends using the built in leaderboards. You will also be given some ‘projectives’ once you have completed everything the game has to initially offer and there are also some extra single player modes such as Big Head Survival, where you must keep pulling off lines of tricks to stop your head from popping and Hawk Man where you’ll be tasked with collecting a number of pellets which you can only pick up when you’re doing certain things such as wall rides, manuals and grinds.
After you’ve had your fun with the single player it’s time to head on over to the multiplayer side of things where you can play with random people or your friends in a variety of different modes. Big Head Survival is in this selection as is Trick Attack, where players battle it out for two minutes to gain the biggest score, Graffiti, where each player must tag ramps, rails and walls and free skate where players can simply skate around for as long as they wish and practice their skating skills. The one big gripe that most players will have with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is the removal of local multiplayer which seems a very odd choice considering this is what most people would have done with their copies of the original games. Even though there isn’t a lack of players online it’s a shame you can’t just have a good session with your mates while drinking a few beers.
With this being an HD edition, of course the graphics have seen a vast improvement but each level still maintains all the things that made them so memorable. Each level has been recreated exactly how they appeared in the original games and it’s great to be able to ollie the magic bum and take that leap of faith just like the old days. The physics seem to have be altered somewhat and you’ll find your favourite skaters are now able to reach some places they weren’t able to before. There are also a few glitches which can cause you to fall through the floor or go flying to the sky but nothing to ruin the overall gameplay. While there are problems with the graphics, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the soundtrack and with a mix of new and old tracks you’ll be thoroughly entertained at every flip of the board.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, while not perfect, is a great game that features some of the best levels from the first two Tony Hawk’s games. Though there are very few levels at the moment, it has already been confirmed that some levels from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 will be released later this year which should expand the gameplay further and may see further levels added from later games. Although it may seem steep to most, 1200 Microsoft Points is a fair price for the game that has kick-started this year’s Summer of Arcade.