- Call Of Duty: Ghosts Revealed, Multiplayer Detailed
- Xbox One Launches This Fall
- Halo Television Show, NFL Xbox One Experience Announced
- Microsoft And Remedy Reveal Quantum Break For Xbox One
- Forza 5 Officially Revealed For Xbox One
- Xbox One Always Connected To Cloud, Achievements And Xbox LIVE To Change Dynamically
- Kinect 2.0 Comes With Every Xbox One
- Xbox One's Kinect 2.0, TV Capabilities Demonstrated
- New Xbox One Features "Trending" Section
- The Next Xbox Is Called "Xbox One"
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD Review
Tony Hawk has the rare distinction of being an icon in not just one field, but two. He is unquestionably the most well-known and one of the most skilled of all professional skaters, and as such he has had the unique opportunity to carve out a name for himself in the video game realm as well. With the games coming out on a yearly basis, it wasn't too long before the franchise simply got tired and slipped out of the public eye. This brings us to 2012's Summer of Arcade promotion, and the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games that started it all.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD is a compilation of the best and most-loved levels in Pro Skater history. And, oddly enough, a few stinkers that somehow slipped in through the cracks. The sections taken from the mediocre Downhill Jam simply don't stick the landing; Tony Hawk levels have always been best when they don't have a clear starting and ending point on the map. The race format of the Downhill Jam levels doesn't mesh with the mostly trick-based content in the rest of the levels, and it doesn't exhibit the same level of polish either.
The rest of the content, mostly cribbed from the first two Pro Skater games, fares better. All of the classic levels like Warehouse and School II are still great fun to trick on, even if most of the secrets have lost their flare now that we've discovered them a good decade or so ago. You'll begin the game with only one map and one mode available, although you will quickly unlock the rest of the seven levels by completing goals during two-minute runs. Some of the most entertaining modes are locked away behind the bars of these requirements. My personal favorite mode, Big Head Elimination, sees the player's head constantly expanding. You'll have to constantly perform bigger and bigger trick chains in order to keep the head from expanding to the point that it pops. It's absurd, silly stuff like this that made those early games so much fun, and it still shines through in this collection even a decade and change later.
The tricking is most similar to Pro Skater 2 in that you can use manuals to maintain your combo as you move about the ground. This allows skilled players to rack up crazy combos by chaining complex tricks together using manuals to get from one trick point to the next. It's a fluid system, but it's also one that is aged, and one that has been aped in countless extreme sports games since. And without innovations such as Pro Skater 3's reverts, it still feels like it has room to grow despite the fact that the series has already gone through these growing pains going on ten years prior.
Although the gameplay isn't quite as strong as it has been in the series' best, the graphics do indeed shine with the best of them thanks to the Unreal engine. Of course, that engine isn't without its flaws, and the texture popping that sometimes rears its ugly head in Unreal games is of issue here. After everything pops into clarity, the environments and skaters look great, if a bit sparse. The original levels simply weren't created with such powerful consoles in mind, and so although the textures are plenty detailed, some levels still feel a little empty. Overall, it's a nice looking game, but one that could have benefitted from a few extra environmental pieces and details being added in the upscaling.
The soundtrack is a similar mixture of dated and brand new. A few of the older songs have been removed in favor of new stuff, while many of the classics, including my particular favorite, a team-up between Anthrax and Public Enemy, remain in the game. It's not a very large soundtrack, though, and you'll find that it tends to repeat itself a little too much. I ended up creating my own custom soundtrack and playing it via the Xbox's Dashboard instead of listening to the game's repetitive tunes.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD is exactly what it advertises itself to be. It's a prettier, slightly upgraded version of some of the Birdman's greatest and earliest gaming exploits, with few frills to elevate it to any level beyond a mere nostalgia trip. The old modes and levels are still lots of fun at their best, but a few lousy levels spoil the pot. There's great gameplay to be had in this HD collection, but you'll have to wade through some equally mediocre stuff to see it all. And in the end, you have seen it all, and over ten years ago to boot.