When I heard that this game was going to be released onto the Xbox Live Arcade, I was more excited than I have been for a long time about the release of a game. Naturally when I found that I would have the chance to play and review such a true classic game I was even more excited, and my expectations were very high indeed! For anyone who ever played the original version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater this is going to be a game of great interest and of course you’re going to want to make sure the game is everything you want it to be before you make the purchase. Developed by Activision, this may be one of the biggest games ever to hit the Xbox Live Arcade!
As the name of the game suggests, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a high definition re-vamp of the classic Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. The game is intrinsically the same in its content as the original, but some minor tweaks have been made for an improved experience. As in the original game, the career mode involves completing goals in various locations to progress to new locations with increasingly difficult challenges to take on. The first location to play is of course the classic warehouse, where the player must complete tasks including high score achievements, collecting the letters to make up the word SKATE, and obtaining the pesky disc on the level which always proves to be a big test of the players skills. The goals in the other playable locations are pretty much the same as this, with some location-specific ones in each, and an increasing level of difficulty. For example, with each progression to a new location the high score challenge involves a greater score to aim for. Some other locations included in the game alongside the classic warehouse are the much loved school, along with some new maps. Alongside the career mode there are also free play and single session modes playable on the game, for a more relaxed and open experience. These can be useful for practice and to get to know the locations in your own time, however the career mode is where the real challenge lies.
Graphically the game is very impressive, as would be expected from a game specifically labelled as being HD. Compared to the original game there is a very clear improvement that has occurred here, and a lot of effort has gone into making the people and places in the game look as realistic as possible. The only real criticism of the graphics of the game is that some of the effects don’t appear to have been improved very much, if at all, for example blood or smashing glass. This seems to be an area which has not been a focus of the improvements made to the game to call it HD. In terms of movement graphics these seem to have changed very little too. This was never really a major problem in the original game anyway, but some elements of how you move are slightly odd at times. Also, some of the ragdolls when falling off your board can be somewhat over the top. For the most part however it is a fair to say that there has been a massive improvement in the visual appearance of the game from the original to this. The sounds of the game remain mostly the same as they have done in the past, however alongside some of the original music score some new tracks have been added, theoretically for a somewhat fresh feel to the game.
Similarly, the playable characters of the game are partly original ones alongside some new ones, including Tony Hawk’s son. Each character has their own statistics relating to their abilities to perform certain tricks as has been usual in the past games, so you can choose a character with attributes that will best benefit you. In terms of the actual tricks you can perform, there are fairly standard moves that can be performed by all of the skaters in the game such as grinding, flips, grabs and manuals. On top of this you can use money found in the career mode to purchase new moves for your skater to increase their range of skills. This money can also be used to customise their boards, but further than this there is little in terms of customisability options such as those found in some of the later Tony Hawk’s games such as American Wasteland. This is in one sense a shame, however given that this is essentially a re-release of the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater the lack of some additional features cannot be too heavily frowned upon. If you would prefer to have a character to play as who is more unique to you, then your avatar is a playable option on top of the pre-set skaters on the game.
A further positive aspect to the game is the fact that the control layout on the Xbox pad is very close, if not exactly the same as, the old control system for Tony Hawk’s games. This means that players of the old games can quickly jump into the action without having to re-learn a new set of controls first. Furthermore, there are various options available in game to optimise your experience to your personal preferences. This includes music and sound effects volumes, which may seem like quite normal options for any game, however you may find that after a while the sounds of the game can become irritating. For example, the school location has several bells which ring repeatedly when playing, which quickly becomes annoying, and so these options are good to have around for such instances. There is unfortunately a major negative to the game, in that no local multiplayer has been included. One of the best selling points of Tony Hawk’s games is being able to challenge your friends to games such as HORSE, score attack or graffiti; each competitive games which involve trying to get the upper hand on each other in various ways. The only way to do this on this game is over Xbox Live, which is a real shame for those who would have liked to share their experience in their own home with their family or friends. With some luck, a local multiplayer will be added to the game at a later date, as this is a major loss to the game as a whole.
All in all Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD was a great idea by the developers and will have made a lot of gamers very happy to be able to play such a true classic in even more glory than ever before. Combining original and new features, the developers have made another successful addition to the franchise, however some features do need tweaking and a local multiplayer would be a very sensible update to the game in the future. Certainly in my eyes and I am sure in many other people’s too, this is the game’s major flaw at present and may well put some gamers of making the purchase. Other than this though a pretty good job has been done and a few hours of enjoyment in the simple but effective career mode are certain!
Traditional, fun and challenging, this re-vamp of a true classic offers many excellent features as did the original, however a lack of local multiplayer is a major downside to the game as a whole.
The title of the game does not lie; some excellent high-definition graphics make the game a thrill to play and look at, and are a very positive update to the original.
The effects of the game are pretty much the same as the original, which is not essentially a bad thing. The music score includes both songs from the original game and some new ones for a pleasant freshness.
A very good game and an exciting one for any fan of the franchise, but with no local multiplayer the game seems almost incomplete; hopefully this will be fixed in the future.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD Review,