Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Review

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Gameplay
10
Presentation
10
Sound
10
10

✔️Solid proof that a Tony Hawk arcade skating experience holds up in 2020 against realistic attempts.
✔️Tons of replayability for those who wish to tackle it.
✔️The perfect way to experience an era long gone in gaming.

❌Some tracks from the OST are missing; most likely an unavoidable situation, but they will be missed.

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AVAILABLE NOW ON:

Heaven is a Halfpipe... 

It’s a beautiful, casual Spring day circa 1999. You’ve just spent most of your day on the playground, in the classroom, or knocking off from your part time job as a person between the ages of 5 and 21. The day drags on as you find yourself reverting back to the same loud thought, that itch you cannot scratch, counting down the hours until you finally make it home to it. The bell rings, the people around you make a fast move to the exit, and everyone heads home to enjoy an easy rest before they do it all again the following day. But not you, oh no, you have something else on your mind. The sound of trucks grinding, that distinct rolling of wheels on concrete calling. It’s leading you home.

You immediately race from your car at the speed of sound. You dash through the hallway into the lounge room. You’ve prepared for this all day, in fact you even made sure to finish off some homework during your lunch breaks so that you will be uninterrupted. You turn on the television, hit the power button with an eccentric force that only one with as much as excitement as you hold can. Police Truck by the Dead Kennedys blares through the mono speakers of the TV set and you watch in awe as the only word you can produce in your mind reveals itself: Skamtebord.

He was a sk8er boi...

The ironic thing is that the same is near true in 2020 with the release of something we had all been waiting for; not just a Tony Hawk game that lives up to the same standard that was fairly consistent from 1999 to 2004, but the SAME game. That’s what this is, folks. Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a genuine, bona fide recreation of some of the best video game skateboarding content in history. If you’ve been a sceptic up to this point (Of which I cannot blame you; Tony Hawk’s games have been rough for well over a decade now) or you are looking to see what the hype is all about, I hope I can provide you good insight from the nineties child within me.

Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, Neversoft made themselves a household name through two franchises; Spiderman and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Most will remember them however from their iconic “Nail through the eyeball” logo that was visible just about everywhere throughout Pro Skater. Sadly, Neversoft didn’t live long after the hype for Tony Hawk slowly declined over time and was absorbed into Infinity Ward in 2014 and fading into obscurity. Which begged the question when Pro Skater 1 + 2 was announced, “Who would do this game justice if not the original developers themselves?”.

1 1v1
2 2v2
3 3v3
4 4v4
5 5v5

Thankfully we were graced with an awesome new captain at the helm, Vicarious Visions, whom had developed the recent Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, widely regarded as one of the greatest remakes to grace current generation platforms for it’s accuracy of the original game’s legacy, and just like N.Sane Trilogy, Vicarious Visions have outdone themselves once again. The punk aesthetic, arcade style gameplay and 90’s style soundtrack are all here in their full glory, being an accurate representation of the nostalgia that we all remember. Launching the game feels like a blast from the past, video’s of Pro Skaters exploits in their careers as skate demo’s show in a beautiful reel to Rage Against The Machines’ Guerilla Radio and I was instantly taken back. It took a solid 30 seconds of logo’s and a demo reel for me to know that the title was given to the right people for the job.

Past the press start logo (Which was an in-game demo reel to Goldfingers’ Superman, Hell yes!) I found pretty much exactly what I wanted and needed as a Tony Hawk’s fan. No tutorials, straight into a familiar menu with a couple new and easy to understand additions, but more importantly three familiar options; Skate Tour, Free Skate, and Create-A-Park. Without hesitation I jumped straight into Skate Tours which offered me the options of playing through both THPS 1 and 2 campaigns and a menu to jump in online sessions to compete against other players in different challenges. As appealing as the last two options were, I was already set on my goal of jumping straight into the THPS 1 campaign and getting into the Warehouse, the infamous Tony Hawk’s level that was the start of it all. Immediately I was incredibly impressed not only by how beautiful such a crummy old warehouse can look but also how the game felt exactly as it should, fast and physics-bending arcade goodness.

Tony Hawk games are centralised on a simple core value. Before you start your 2-minute jaunt through a skatepark (or Mall, or dam, or hell even Roswell) you have a myriad of objectives to complete. If you aren’t somewhat of an expert at these games, it’s unlikely you’ll complete them in a single run and they aim to test what you can accomplish in a combo and your understanding of the physics. Throughout each level there will be a handful of stat points to apply to your skater, no matter whether you play a pre-existing character or your very own creation, and collecting these will help you in achieving a lot more with your character if you aren’t very experienced with the game.

Investing points in Air is likely to give you the boost you need to jump a roof to roof gap for example and what’s more is that even mid-skate you can fully customise these options from the pause menu to help you get as much possible done in a single run. That being said, a lot is achievable by just learning the actual physics of the game with no stat point investment whatsoever. Holding an Ollie will get you higher air if used just as you exit a ramp which is the standard, but if you also double tap up on the controller before you let the Ollie go you will instead perform a Boneless, granting you nearly double the height of an Ollie. Combine this with a rail grind into that Boneless and it’s very possible you’ll cross the gap you are trying to approach without any extra stat investment at all. Learning neat little techniques like this will likely make your time coasting through skate tours less frustrating and far more rewarding.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 is the definition of recapturing the spirit and design of a multiple decade old game perfectly....

While we are on the subject of handy tricks, something that was lovely to see was the return of some amazing additions that were present in later in Tony Hawk games that keep your combo going. Most who remember the first Tony Hawk game will remember that the only way to keep a combo going was to land your current trick and grinding on a rail which caused incredibly awkward disconnects that didn’t always work because Manual and flat land tricks were mostly if not entirely non-existent. This isn’t the issue in Tony Hawk’s 1+2, as not only are Manual and flatland tricks back from THPS2 but so are the awesome combo tools of Revert (Which allows you to switch style when coming down from a ramp trick and allow you to combo straight into a Manual) ,Wallplant (Which allows you to combo from what would usually be a painful grind into a flat wall in front of you) and Wallride (allowing you to make use of other surfaces where the ground is a little bland).

Birdman's Basics...

Practicing with tools like these allow you to keep going and build not only a score but a multiplier as well. Gone are the days of players bragging about their scores of 400,000 on Downhill Jam, because now you’re more than likely going to be trying to compete with a score of 30 million or more thanks to these additions. If you’re looking for a more purist aspect, I’m happy to report that you do have the option of a legacy mode which allows you to turn off the extra combo options at will. There are a handful of neat additions like this to the game that allow you to achieve your own personal Tony Hawk experience based on what you’ve grown up on which is a stellar addition to the game, something that the last remaster attempt Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD failed to provide in the reverse order.

Thanks to these additions, every skatepark available across both 1 and 2 tours suddenly have a lot more options for you to traverse them and keep a solid run going. I’ll be real here; going back to the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in 2020 would be incredibly jarring. Many levels like School, Downhill Jam and Streets have many blatant disconnects that make it harder to amass a large combo without relying on endless grind points such as fountains making high combo tasks more of a chore than a fun time. No longer is that the case with the additions of these tools and every level now has a huge option of different lines you can follow that vary up the gameplay, and rediscovering levels that were usually a bother is now a huge breath of fresh air. Downhill Jam used to be one of the most dreaded skating game levels in history, but now you can combo from the top of the hill all the way to the finish line at the bottom without too much hassle. The visual upgrades on each level now also makes certain obstacles much easier to identify and there is no longer a fog to mask draw distance issues, making coming off a ramp and viewing a level in full a much prettier sight to behold.

In addition to the classics in both skaters and levels, we also have a huge amount of customisation in the form of Create-A-Skater and Create-A-Park. By completing challenges and just, well, skating, you earn money in order to use in the game’s own little shopfront that allows you to customise your Skaters from head to wheels and purchase different kinds of ramps and obstacles to fit into your own creations. While the Create-A-Skater feels a little basic, there is a ton of premade options to consider and purchase which will keep you coming back and changing your look up. The Create-A-Park however has a huge array of new tools so that you can create something totally unique to you, allowing you to go as far as to fine-tune rails to the point of a degree and once you are finished, you can share your creations online and even browse others and make your own adjustments to them. The developers themselves have even been using these tools to their advantage, and have uploaded an array of levels from recreations of THPS3 parks, to a freaking grind rollercoaster. While it’s mostly in it’s infancy now, I cannot wait to see what crazy things not only myself but the overall community come up with.

The glue that arguably hold all of this together comes in the form of an incredible and memorable soundtrack, which has mostly remained in tact from it’s original release with a few exceptions. There are a few removed tracks here and there from both playlists of Tony Hawk’s 1 and 2 presumably because they couldn’t obtain the rights for them once more, but whilst they will be missed, an extra helping of new tracks that help fit the theme of a grungy skating game have been added to not only fill the gaps but expand the OST to a larger number than before. Fan favourite tracks from artists like Goldfinger, Less than Jake and Rage Against the Machine are still here, but also tracks from artists like Billy Talent, Machine Gun Kelly and Zebrahead. Even with the new additions in music, the vibe of 90’s kid never left me during the whole journey which I’m more than thankful for. Keeping the OST as close to the original was massively important to the entire experience and it shows that Vicarious Visions were totally aware of this from the moment they started development on the game. The OST embodies an era long passed and is a monument to the iconic music that we all know and love from that time.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is the definition of recapturing the spirit and design of a multiple decade old game perfectly. Despite years upon years of the Pro Skater name being dragged through the mud, Vicarious Visions have once again taken a beloved property and created something that is nothing short of master craft. Tony Hawk himself was incredibly excited to announce that this title was being made despite having very conflicted opinions for years about how games with his name being the drawing point have been handled, and it’s plainly obvious to see why. What the success of this title will mean for the series going forward is uncertain but one thing is for sure, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is a love letter to Tony Hawk, the skaters, their fans, and the people who are kids at heart all over the world. Whether you are nostalgia driven or a new fan entirely, you would be a fool to miss out on this masterpiece.

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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 - Activision

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a skateboarding video game developed by Vicarious Visions and published by Activision, which was released on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on September 4, 2020.

AVAILABLE NOW ON:

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Gameplay
10
Presentation
10
Sound
10
10

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