The Tony Hawk Pro Skater series was once the pinnacle of skateboarding games. Not only was it fun, but it was also easily accessible which attracted a wide variety of gamers from casual to core. Through the years, however, the brand faded into obscurity as it transformed from simply a skateboarding title. Developers began adding other mechanics such as freeroaming on foot across cities. It sounds fun but unfortunately it wasn’t. The last game in the series was Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground which was released in 2007.
After eight long years Activision has decided to resurrect the series with Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5. I had the opportunity to spend many hours with this game. The question I had leading up to play time was “can developer Robomodo bring the Pro Skater series back to its former glory?” I found the answer to be…sort of.
The concept seems simple enough; the game is a reboot of sorts, taking the series back to its roots with a ton of ramps, a ton of speed and the arcade feel of the original. The problem I ran into right from the start was bugs. A lot of them. At what point the game locked up so badly and the sound got so sharp that I got that same feeling in the pit of my stomach that I had when I realized that my XBox 360 bricked. Luckily that wasn’t the case, but I did have to hard shut down my console to fix it.
The bugs continued during my entire playthrough which was disappointing because the gameplay is a lot of fun. As I was about to publish this review something fantastic happened; the game received a HUGE patch. So I started over.
My second impression of the game was way more positive than the first. The game harkens back to the original in a huge way. A great example is the very first map. Just like the first game in the Pro Skater series the game takes place in a warehouse full of ramps, jumps and rails in which to slide. What’s more is the map in Pro Skater 5 also opens up into an outdoor pool. This is where I had the most fun. There’s something amazing about skating pools; it’s just more fun to me than simple ramps and railslides. In summary, the gameplay had a great pick up and play feel just like the originals.
Controls feel, for the most part, smooth and comfortable. Sticks are used to steer and move the camera, and as is the norm in gaming these days, simple to insane amounts of button combos execute the arsenal of tricks included with the game. No combos are hard to remember, but it can be difficult to remember which combos do what.
Content is where the game suffers. The game features over 80 missions, these missions are spread across eight maps with the option of using only 10 pro skaters. It’s because of this that I felt the game was too expensive for what comes loaded with it.
The visuals in the game, while not the prettiest graphics in the industry, look just fine for what the game is. Some will argue that Developer Robomodo could have done far more to polish the game’s looks, but I would say that gamers don’t buy Tony Hawk games for the looks, that it to say that Pro Skater 5 is built to be an arcade type game, not a sim.
The online multiplayer is where Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 really shines. up to 20 players can skate together throughout the maps and gamers who are online even show up in your levels if you aren’t taking advantage of multiplayer. That was my favorite part of the entire experience. The game felt like a social experience even when I was playing alone.
The ability to build your own skate park is another great feature in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5. White it seems a little wonky at first to place ramps and other objects where you want them, it
Overall Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 is a fun title. While early adopters of the game were put off by the silly amount of bugs in the game, those who have not picked up the game yet will find the experience to be worth the price since it has dropped to $30 at most retailers. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 feels like the titles that took skateboarding games to stratospheric heights, and although there are still bugs that plague the game, they are less noticeable than they were immediately after release.
Give Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 a chance if you haven’t already. If played it pre-patch, give it another shot. I think you’ll be glad you did.