One of the great classics from two console generations ago was Neversoft's defining title, the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. After a decade of the series becoming increasingly tired and falling apart under its own weight — and after the nigh-disastrous Tony Hawk's Ride and Tony Hawk's Shred — Activision has decided to go back to the most popular entries in the series and bring them back with a nice HD spit and polish with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD. We checked it out at Microsoft's "Best of E3 2012" event, and the results are nice. It's good to see a skateboarding game after a few years of near-total silence.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD dispenses with almost everything that's been added to the series. No endless swarms of ground tricks. No getting off the board. Not even revert. You get the control stack of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, verbatim. Manuals and grinds are the order of the day for those pursuing the deepest combos and most ludicrous scores, while vert tricks, which are still good for a quick point, are best reserved for hitting goals or capping the chain.
The level stack consists of an array of classic levels from the first two games - meaning, of course, that my runthrough had to be in the iconic warehouse level. All the classic objectives were there, matched up nicely to their classic patterns and schemes. The soundtrack's 14 tracks consist of Superman, six selections from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, and seven new songs, while the skaters include some of the original skaters alongside new skaters like Tony's son, Riley Hawk.
DLC has already been confirmed, consisting of choice levels from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 — possibly as a pack and possibly rolling in the gameplay elements, such as revert, for use in classic levels. The exact plans are not firmed up yet, other than that they're going to happen.
All of this, of course, has a nice, high-definition makeover to bring these levels up to modern standards. Also included with the modernization are several online modes, including the requisite leaderboard support. The much-derided board controller is not making a return, not even as an option.
Overall, Activision has chosen to target the old-school fans with a "best of" from the series' earliest days. When it drops this month, it is nearly certain that the demo will be downloaded millions of times. Many who remember the game from over a decade ago may finally find that this is the one worth returning to, after years of increasing floundering.
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