Tony Hawk has been a staple to the action sports genre since 1999 with the release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and with a clear decline in sales becoming evident over the past 5 years and attempts at new innovation seemingly going nowhere Robomodo teamed up with the Hawkman himself to bring back the best of the past in this HD title, so the only question is does it bring back the high scoring ridiculousness we love or leave us hoping for more. Read on to find out.
Tony Hawk HD was first announced at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards and was highly anticipated by many ever since, with it hitting the XBLA marketplace on July 18th fans finally got their hands on this title. Personally these titles were some of my favorites on the PS1 & PS2 however my excitement didn’t carry over to the 360 with the later titles until now that is. Tony Hawk HD manages to bring back a great soundtrack, great gameplay and even better levels.
Most people right off the bat before diving into the gameplay will instantly be hooked on the soundtrack as it keeps the old school sound of the first two titles while including some new tracks. Nothing beats starting up the game to some Powerman 5000, Goldfinger or Anthrax feat Chuck D. While the soundtrack is a bit short at just 14 tracks it by no means gets old, and is the perfect set of tunes to skate with. While this is a small thing for the game and a small section to cover it is important as I found this to be something that sucked me into the game right off the start.
The menus consist of the typical options for an XBLA title, Single Player, Xbox Live, Leaderboards, Achievements, Help & Options, & Exit Game. Almost everyone will want to get started in Single Player which brings you up to the Skater select, while not all of the old school guys are in here there is a good selection and the game features some classic unlockable characters as well. The new roster consists of The Birdman himself, Rodney Mullen, Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins Pastrana, Eric Koston, Andrew Reynolds, Nyjah Huston, Chris Cole, Riley Hawk, Jake Harrison, Emily Westlund & your Avatar.
I found myself doubling up the career and playing as both Tony Hawk & Nyjah Huston (Vert & Street) to get an even feel for the title. So each level I played twice before progressing onto to the next, there are 10 objectives per level ranging from high scores, collecting items like secret DVD’s or level specific items (keys, shipping manifests, pilot wings etc), finding S-K-A-T-E and collecting 100% cash and goals. So those expecting a refreshing change of pace from the later games will be pleased to know that it kicked back to the objective based career with you at most having to complete 6 goals to unlock the next level.
Personally I only had problems come up on some of the later levels, nothing really huge or game breaking but glitches are all the same in reality on my third time through the game with Rodney Mullen he would sometimes skate sideways before the game would realize its error and crash for me, or on the Downhill Jam with Tony Hawk he would merge into some of the rocks and just float in an empty space. While it was never particularly bad and caused me huge issues they did make it inconvenient to play the title sometimes. Nothing seemed impossible either it is all just a learning curve. I couldn’t hit 300,000 with Nyjah Huston on Downhill Jam but with Tony Hawk I hit it no problem so I went back and made another attempt with Nyjah and finally did it after about 10 attempts. So the skating styles definitely have an influence on your scoring and how you have to play the title but not necessarily in a bad way.
There are multiple Single Player options which I believe become more available after completing the title with at least one skater. Things like Projectives, Hawkman (Pacman), & Big Head Survival are some of the later ones with Single Session and Free Skate always being available choices. Somehow I never felt inclined to Free Skate though unless it was on Xbox Live with someone. Projectives are great and difficult like always with things like “C-O-M-B-O” or an insane amount of High Score points being needed now. Hawkman didn’t really interest me but if you are someone who loves achievements this will be a game mode you must perfect to get them all. Big Head Survival has to be one of the best things I have played as you try and keep your score up and your head down by landing massive combos. They are all fun which extends the life of this title like trying to 100% it with each skater didn’t do that already.
The online modes are something that bring a fresh amount of gameplay to the title, I don’t know how populated the servers are as I only played it a handful of times but I never had issues with it. Never had any amount of lag and Trick Attack always counted my points correctly. Free Skate is pretty cool as it keeps track of your last combo score, sadly at the time of this review I was not able to try Graffiti or Big Head Elimination but I would think that they would both be decent types as well.
Overall Tony Hawk HD is a satisfying and refreshing release for this franchise while it won’t please everyone and some may not enjoy the fast paced high scoring action it does accomplish its goals well and kept myself coming back for more, whether that be completing the career with more than one skater and unlocking hidden characters or just enjoying busting out 200,000 points in one combo it somehow keeps calling me back for more. It will be interesting to see how much effort Robomodo puts into the title as well, they are already working on THPS3 DLC for the title and they could keep going bringing more levels and things from other titles into this game. Honestly would not be shocked to see some THPS4 stuff make it into this title. So while this title is not for everyone, as someone who has enjoyed almost all the skateboarding titles since the NES and original Gameboy I would highly recommend at least giving this game a trial run before passing judgement on it as it definitely gave me a great blast from the past feeling and I have not put down the title since picking it up for review.