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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD Review

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD is the latest in a long line of games to recently receive a graphical overhaul, but what separates this game from every other that's had its visual aesthetic updated, is that it's a collision of two classic games. The best of both THPS 1 and 2 are included here, wrapped neatly into one skate boarding package for you to reminisce over but was it worth bringing back? Or should it have been left to nostalgia?

Having played the original version's way back in the day on Dreamcast, I find it difficult to recall exactly how well riding on a plank of wood stuck on four wheels handled. Thankfully I don't have to, as the controls in this remake are pretty much how I remember them. With an old school control scheme, you could expect this game to be a bit more tough than the current run of skateboarding games, what with having to press buttons to grab your board rather than flicking a second analogue stick but in all honesty, the controls hold up well, despite missing out on some of the newer game functions such as reverts, bails and flat land tricks. Pulling tricks and spinning round like a demon is easily enough done, just remember to land correctly because this is where the game can and will punish you. Landing too far off center and you'll be eating concrete, and with the lack of revert or recovery, this can happen more than you'd like.

Most of the iconic maps from both THPS 1 and 2 feature here and if you've played before, all the secret locations and collectables are right where you remember them; video tape collectables have been updated to DVDs but these don't unlock anything unlike the old games. There are only 7 stages available which is disappointing seeing as how there's a lot more that could have been included from the classics.
Game types include career mode, where you have to complete an objective while trying to earn high scores, single session which is a timed run around 1 level doing score attacks and free skate for practicing stages. All of these game types stick to the old 2 minute time limit per stage, which can be extended if you're good enough to keep your combo going except for free skate which is unlimited.

Two new game types are Hawkman and Big head survival. Hawkman is similar to Pacman but on a skateboard. Each level is full of yellow, red, blue and green tokens, which can only be collected by either jumping, grinding, wall riding or manualing through them. Big head survival has your player’s head continually getting larger; the only way to stop your head from popping like a balloon is to keep pulling off tricks. If you wanted to play HORSE then prepare for disappointment as it’s not included. Hopefully the DLC that is due out which will feature stages from THPS 3 may add this game type back in, until then fingers crossed.

Obviously the thing you're here for when looking at a HD remake, the HUD and menu visuals has been highly polished and the game itself looks great but due to recreating the old arenas from the original game, the levels seem very small and sparse compared to more recent open world skate games. These seem to work very well though with the two minute time limit so it's no bad thing that the stages are well contained but if you want exploring, prepare to be disappointed.

Another thing that's missing from the HD version is the character roster. While all 10 of the skaters look impressive comparatively, only 2 old skaters have survived the update, Tony Hawk himself and manual master Rodney Mullen, all the other skaters are new for this version. Secret characters from the originals have also been removed and there is no character customising in this game which is a shame but at least you can play as your own avatar, nice to see them finally breaking out of Kinect only games!

The music selection is a mixed bag, there are a few old tracks from the originals thrown in with some new ones but all in all, it sounds awesome and has that skateboard game vibe with it. The track list however is limited so prepare for quite a few repeats.

Online play has a variety of different modes, all available with up to 4 players online in either private or public matches. Its live only though, so no split-screen action here. Game types include free skate, graffiti, trick attack and big head elimination. Graffiti is a returning favourite where each play has an assigned colour as you trick off vertical ramps, half pipes or grind rails. If successful, you paint the object you've tricked on, with the winner having the most tagged areas.

Big head elimination is similar to big head survival in single player, only this time you're against others which just piles on the pressure! If you decide to play as your avatar, who already has a disproportioned head, you have an actual balloon following you around which inflates as you go.

Free skate and trick attack play exactly how they sound; free skate is just rolling around for as long as you like doing whatever you want. Trick attack challenges you to get the highest overall score in a 2 minute free for all run.

Final Verdict
As with almost every HD collection, this game really excels if you played the original version. I'm not sure how someone new to the game would enjoy the old game mechanics as they may find lack of controls frustrating. With only a hand full of stages I can't see the game holding interest all that long at least until some DLC rolls around. I would suggest getting a trial if you're unsure, but even then you only get a 90 second run on the warehouse level to work out if you like it or not.

Gameplay = 8/10
Graphics = 7/10
Online = 8/10

Final We Know Gamers Score = 7.6/10
Had a chance to play the game? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD Review
Reviewed by Zero
on Jul 26 2012

Rating: 7.6/10

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