Despite a helpful map, some objectives are also difficult to work out unless you put a lot of time into the level. Some will counter that this style of play is true to the original, but it can still make playing the game feel like a chore. The more we played, the more we started to think rose-tinted thoughts not of the original Pro Skater, but of Tony Hawk’s Project 8 with its more relaxed, free-roaming approach and easy-going, comedy vibes.
Pro Skater HD is also going to be a tough one for newbies. There’s no tutorial, no hand-holding and very little information on what to do or how to go about it, and while this won’t be a problem for those who played Pro Skater and Pro Skater 2 in their teens, it will be to those who are coming to Pro Skater HD as their first Tony Hawk.
Faults and Omissions
Still, neither of these issues will seriously put off existing fans. However, there are two things that might. Firstly, the HD graphics are a bit disappointing. The skaters and the environments have all been remodelled and reanimated, but Pro Skater HD still looks dated. Some of the textures are rough or lacking in detail, the architecture is boxy and there’s very little going on in the backgrounds. It’s clean and uncluttered, but also a little bit flat and colourless.
Secondly, there’s no split-screen play and no HORSE mode. You still get graffiti and straight trick-attack modes to play on Xbox Live, but a lot of players remember Tony Hawks as much for its split-screen play as the single-player action, so these are serious omissions. Throw in a limited and repetitive garage/punk/hip-hop soundtrack – admittedly one with some great tunes – and the overall lack of content and Pro Skater HD isn’t quite the triumph you might want it to be. While we might love being able to skate as an Xbox Live avatar, or unlockable game modes where you trick to stop your head exploding, there’s still just not quite enough good stuff to go around.
Now, this isn’t a disaster. 1200MS Points isn’t going to break the bank, and if you loved Pro Skater 1 and 2 and simply want a journey back to the good old days, then Pro Skater HD is an excellent buy. Newbies with patience and a willingness to learn the hard way will also find a lot to enjoy. Yet at the same time we have to point out that things have moved on, and that EA’s Skate 2 and Skate 3 can easily be picked up for ten to fifteen quid these days, not to mention Ubisoft’s Shaun White Skateboarding or Tony Hawk’s Project 8. If you’re not hung up on revisiting the Tony Hawks glory years, there are better skateboarding titles around.
Taking the Tony Hawk’s series back to basics is an excellent move, but did the basics have to be quite so basic? There’s nothing wrong with the addictive gameplay, the challenging difficulty level or the fun online play, but a lack of content and the hard grind of the gameplay take away some of the magic. This is the best Tony Hawk’s game in years, but not necessarily the best skateboarding game if you’re not hung up on nostalgia.