The classic Birdman is back. In an effort to bring nostalgia back to gamers who grew up playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2, the team at Robomodo took the best levels (mostly) from the first and second game, put them in high definition and unleashed it on the masses of Tony Hawk fans that spent their nights trying to achieve every goal back in the late 90's.
It's a genius idea really. Not only will you rekindle old Tony Hawk fans with some of the best levels they remember back from their childhood, but THPSHD can show newcomers how the video game skating scene really got started.
The gameplay remains largely the same from the originals. Each level presents you with a set of goals or objectives. In order to unlock access to the next level, you have to clear a certain amount of these goals, which consist of getting the High, Pro or Sick score, finding the Secret DVD (cause Secret VHS is so 90's), collecting the letters S-K-A-T-E or performing various tricks over gaps specific to that level.
While it's nice to go back and see how the franchise got started, I for one am glad the later games ended up moving away from objective based levels. However, they're still incredibly fun, and once you unlock them all, you can just Free Skate them to your heart's content.
The new stuff you'll see in the HD remake are a few new modes along with some new skaters thrown into the mix. You can even play as your Avatar, which is just as ridiculous as it sounds. The newest mode called Projectives (Pro Objectives) will truly put your sanity to the test as they present some of the toughest challenges for each level.
The levels are all pretty rad, from the classic 'Warehouse' from the first game, to the equally awesome 'Hangar' from the second game, 'School II' and 'Marseilles' are all back. The Mall makes a comeback as well, even though I find that level to be quite frustrating. And for some reason, Tony Hawk himself insisted that the 'Downhill Jam' level be added. Not sure what was going through his head there, but it's definitely not the highlight of the experience.
There are a few glaring issues however. While the best tracks from the first and second game are here, such as Goldfinger's "Superman", which seems to be everyone's favorite, even though my favorite is still "No Cigar" by Millencolin, you can't freely skip tracks, or even view the entire in-game tracklist. Why not?! If anything, half of my Tony Hawk nostalgia stems from the soundtrack, and I wish I had the control over which songs I wanted to listen to.
Also one of the biggest additions which was first introduced in THPS2, the level editor and character creator are sadly missing from the HD remake.
The worst omission from the game, which could have easily gave it an extra point is split screen multiplayer. I can't even tell you the amount of time I spent playing this game with my buddies back in the day. Whether we just skated around each level in Free Skate or played each other in HORSE, some of my best Tony Hawk memories were when playing side by side with a friend. Sadly, multiplayer is now only relegated to online play. It's a great inclusion for sure, but come on, add some split screen to the game dammit!
Tony Hawk was skating at its finest before Skate opted to go head to head with the Tony Hawk franchise and make them more realistic. I still prefer this series because I don't care for too much realism in skating, and I don't care much for broken bones. The fact of the matter is, if you remember playing the old Tony Hawk games for hours, this purchase is a no brainer, especially for the $15 price tag. Though there are a few notable omissions, it's still a hell of a deal. Not to mention you can look forward to additional DLC in just a few weeks which will include levels from THPS3