- Developer: Vicarious Visions
- Publisher: Activision Blizzard
- Release Date: 26/03/2021
- Price: £49.99 / $49.99
- Review code provided by Activision
Introducing: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 PS5 Review
I can’t skate to save my life. Living life as a lanky uncoordinated husk of a man never allowed me the balance and finesse required to master that skill. Until Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, I would look upon the skate parks in quiet envy. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 was my first experience with the series, and from my very first moments with the game I was hooked.
Before I knew it, 1 million point combos were mere muscle memory. Although my nostalgia for the first two games rely heavily on the failed N-Gage ports, I still remember the levels fondly. The question is, does this remake of the first two games capture the memories of those earlier games, or does it feel lacking? Let’s find out.
Indy Backflip to Constant Bailing
Unlike Tony Hawk’s later era titles, 1 & 2 are run-based games, where you get 2 minutes to complete a set of challenges. These challanges range from getting a high accumulated score or single combo, to collecting a number of items scattered throughout the map. Challenges are set up intelligently, forcing you to explore the entirety of each map. To unlock all the maps in the main game mode, you need to complete a certain number of these challenges to progress. These maps also contain skill points which when collected allow you to improve your skater.
It’s a simple concept in totality, but what makes the game shine is the gameplay. This remake takes what is arguably perfect gameplay, and adds the smart additions introduced in some of the later games. These changes allow for bigger combos and a more consistent flow to traversal. Being able to 900 into a revert, manual to a grind, and wall plant to continue the combos feels incredibly satisfying in these levels.
The Perfect Combo
What makes the game so compelling is how easy all these tricks are to pull off. Essentially you have a button for hold tricks, one for flip tricks, one for grinds, and depending on what direction you point the left stick dictates what trick you pull off. You also have access to special tricks, which require two directions and a button press to pull off. When in the air, you can also spin to add extra points, which is done by just holding the left stick in the desired direction.
And that’s basically the whole game. You choose a level, pull off massive combos, complete a few quests, and work your way to unlocking the next map. Each run feels fantastic, as the perfect gameplay makes every action a joy to perform. Each time you pull off a massive combo is so incredibly satisfying.
Helping the stellar gameplay is the fantastic level design. The placement of each rail, ramp and half pipe has a feeling of delibrateness that is greatly appreciated. Each level feels like it was designed to not only maximise combos, but allow for many different routes to achieve those combos.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Fashion Skater
A design choice I absolutely love is that they chose to include Tony Hawk now. Seeing old man Hawk as opposed to his younger self from the original was something I didn’t know I wanted until I saw him ripping out a 900 on my TV. The same goes for the rest of the roster, and it’s oddly refreshing to see.
If you don’t want to use one of the many professional skaters, you can aways create and customise your own. There are limited creation options, but being able to make a skater all of your own is always fun. As you progress through the game, you also unlock new clothing and accessories to really customise your character. I outfitted my skater with some sick drip, including a sweet pair of Nike dunks.
You can also customise your special tricks, with 8 slots available to customise. You can choose to add hold, flip, grind and manual specials, as well as the button inputs to pull them off. All these options really help to shape not only the characters look, but the feel you want when you control them.
Bring the Noise
One outstanding aspect of the Tony Hawk games has always been the soundtrack. Miraculously, the necessary deals have been made to largely keep the playlist from the original game. There are a few missing here, but I was still able to bob my head to some Primus, Anthrax, Reel Big Fish, and Rage Against the Machine. The soundtrack goes a long way to ground the game in its 90’s roots. There is also strong audio design, with every grind, manual, and change of surface giving you a realistic sound to match the environment.
Married with the soundtrack is some incredible looking visuals. From the reflections on wet surfaces to the character models, everything here looks amazing. Not only are the visuals impressive on their own, but the maps still feel like the original game. Skating around the school level from the first game looked and felt exactly as I remember it (or better, remember I played it on an N-Gage).
A Technical Marvel
Thankfully, there is nothing amiss with the Tony Hawk experience on PlayStation 5. In my playthrough, I never experienced any bugs, glitches or any other type of hiccup. Each level was solid, with no noticable slowdown, creating a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 is more than a nostalgia-bait remake. It recaptures the greatest skateboarding games of all time and brings them forward for a modern audience. There were so many ways this remake could have been bad. If the controls didn’t feel right, the soundtrack wasn’t (mostly) retained, or the maps were off, then this would have been a disaster. Somehow all those elements were nailed in this game, creating the definitive version of these two incredible titles.
- Incredible gameplay
- Great level design
- Outstanding soundtrack
- Breathtaking visuals
- I’m not as good at the game now I’m old