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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Sports
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Release Date: Sept. 4, 2020


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PC Review - 'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 7, 2020 @ 2:50 a.m. PDT

The original birdman Tony Hawk is returning with remastered versions of the first two badass games in the Tony Hawk franchise -- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2.

Buy Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2

This isn't the first time that the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and its sequel have been remade. Though it wasn't officially dubbed as such, 2001's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2X for the original Xbox can be considered a remaster, as it included all of the original levels while undergoing a major graphics and performance upgrade and including system link play due to the absence of Xbox Live at the time. In 2012, PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 owners got Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD, which was good on the surface but disappointing. The graphics facelift couldn't make up for the fact that lots of levels were missing and the game didn't feel right. This year marks the third remake titled Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 and, as the saying goes, the third time's the charm.

The early Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games prided themselves as arcade skating experiences. With a few exceptions, you're given two minutes to skate around an area as you try to rack up as many points as possible with various tricks. Individual tricks are nice, but stringing together moves in combos is where the magic comes in, and each level has plenty of opportunities to create skating lines for massive combos. Each level has a myriad of objectives; most of them involve hitting point thresholds, but there are other objectives in place to keep things interesting, such as destroying boxes, jumping over parked cars, or finding the level's secret tape. You can also accumulate stat point icons to power up your skater's traits so it's easier to achieve goals.

Paramount to this remaster are the game's mechanics and overall skating feeling. The original titles had tight controls, which were unfortunately loosened up in the HD version. Thankfully, the controls here feel just like the original, with the timing for pulling off tricks being the same as before — give or take the inherent lag of modern displays. THPS1+2 pulls in one trait from the HD version: moves from the second game can also be done in the first game. The revert, which was introduced in the third game, is also present in the first and second titles. Those additions are game-changers, since combos are much easier to sustain with them in play. For purists, there's an option to pare down the move set to either what was only capable in the second game or trim it to what was in first game, removing the manual and wall push in the process.

Even if you change the trick library to the original move set, THPS1+2 retains that pick-up-and-play nature that made the series so beloved in the first place. It only takes a few seconds to learn which buttons do what, and it takes less than one session to bust out 50-50 grinds on long rails or get a 360 frontside grab on one side of a halfpipe and then get a Christ Air on the other side. Build up the meter without bailing, and tricks like the 900 become achievable. The ease with which various tricks can be performed made you feel like you had the skills to pull off what took the pros months to master, and the two-minute time limit put the pressure on, and you could feel great about pulling off so many moves in a short amount of time. Those who played the original PlayStation demo became intimately familiar with the mechanics, and the presence of the same addictive feeling in this iteration is probably all the assurance that veteran players need.

The only gameplay option you can't turn off concerns bailing. In past games, bailing sucked because you lost your score for those tricks and the animation could be quite lengthy. Here, bails still occur, but they appear as glitches where you magically reappear on your board, ready to skate. In action, it cuts down on that forced downtime, and while some purists may see that as a bit of a cheat, it ensures that the adrenaline flow isn't constantly interrupted.

Unlike THPS HD, THPS1+2 features every level from both games, and everything is faithfully recreated, with every secret in the correct place and not an iota of geometry changed, so those old trick lines you pulled off before are viable again. Even the objectives are all sitting exactly where they should be, so those with old strategy guides or an excellent memory will find them once more. If anything, it shows how good these levels were at nudging players to explore and find things on their own, rather than forcing them down specific paths. The levels from the original game have each gained five more objectives to keep them in line with the count from the second title, but the integration is seamless enough that the new goals fit in perfectly with the old ones.

The game properly splits both titles' levels instead of combining them into one giant campaign. You can jump between both campaigns at any time, and goal completion is also kept separate, so if you were better at the second game than the first, you can't blaze through that title to open up the levels in the first title. Stat points are transferable between campaigns, so if you get stuck on the first game, you can go to the second game and grab some stat points before returning with a more powerful skater to give it another go. It is one of many changes that makes the title feel like less of a grind. Your progress through each campaign isn't reset if you change skaters, but you'll still want to replay those levels, since stat points respawn for every new skater.

The game adopts an XP system, so whether you're completing goals for the first time or taking a free run, you're always gaining XP and cash. There are bigger XP and cash rewards for completing challenges, whether they're global ones, like hitting a number of special tricks, or skater-specific ones, like having certain skaters hit specific tricks. The XP and cash unlock new boards and outfits for the pro skaters and your created skaters. There are a ton of challenges, so both XP and cash come in at a steady pace. Despite everything being cosmetic, the game sports no microtransactions, so it abides by the classic mentality of letting you unlock everything without having to spend more than the cost of the game.

Speaking of skaters, THPS1+2 sees the return of every single skater from both games, and they have the same starting stats as in the original titles. The twist is that the development team went for the skaters' modern appearances. It can be a little jarring to see aged versions of pros like Steve Caballero or Andrew Reynolds grind through these maps, but it is cool to see that the game isn't a complete time capsule, either. In addition to the 13 original skaters, there are eight more pros. Some of them are already part of the series, like Lizzie Armanto and Nyjah Huston, while others are completely new, like Leo Baker and Aori Nishimura. Aside from adding diversity to the cast, their addition is also a great way to get the younger set into the game with familiar names. While the game sports secret characters like an alien and Officer Bob played by Jack Black, Spider-Man is nowhere to be found, so those who want the webslinger riding around on a skateboard still have a reason to keep their original copy of the second game.

Likewise, the soundtrack, which is just as iconic as the skaters and the skating, is an eclectic mix of modern material and classics. In an unprecedented move, only three songs ("B-Boy Document '99" by The High & Mighty feat. Mos Def and Mad Skillz, "Committed" by Unsane from the first game, and "Out With the Old" by Alley Life feat. Black Planet, both from the second game) didn't make the jump to this version. Tunes like "Guerrilla Radio" by Rage Against the Machine, "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver" by Primus, and "Superman" by Goldfinger are all here and exactly as you remember; for some players, these three songs are forever linked with these games. The 37 new songs don't feel out of place, either, such as "Deathwire" by Rough Francis and "In Control" by Baker Boy. You can customize the songs that get played, and the tunes play continuously, so you can hear the whole song instead of two-minute snippets. All it takes is a button press to skip the current song.

Had Vicarious Visions stopped here and called it a day, it would've been enough, but it went the extra mile to ensure that THPS1+2 remains installed in your PC for quite some time. In addition to the two campaigns of the original games, there's a third mode where you can aim for your highest score in one run, and your score is posted to online leaderboards, so you can finally see how you stack up after all these years. There's also a specific Speed Run mode that tallies how quickly you can get all of the goals in a level in a single run. Online play has both free skate and score attack modes, and those modes are also available for local multiplayer, a nod to what the original games offered if you didn't want to pass the controller to someone else for their turn. For those who want to take it easy, the cheats for things like perfect rail and manual balance are just an option away, but it disqualifies you from entering the leaderboards. As mentioned before, the game has a create-a-skater feature that has plenty of clothing and deck options and a decent amount of facial features.

Create-a-park is the final feature, and while it is just as easy to create parks now as it was before, it feels more powerful here due to the ability to adjust elements like gradual elevation and curvature. What makes this even more special is that you can now share your creations online. Quite a number of parks were available during the launch weekend, including a good number from Vicarious Visions, and it'll only grow as more people jump into the title. The good news is that, aside from adding new places to skate, there are challenges associated with both park-building and playing in these new creations, so there's more reason for players to give this a shot.

Of course, a remastering of a game calls for a graphical overhaul, and THPS1+2 doesn't disappoint in this regard. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, the game sports some excellent lighting, and the levels are brought to life with tremendous detail. Some of the stages even come with new things, like drones during Downhill Jam, boarded-up storefronts and banners signaling closures in The Mall, and a few COVID-19-related signs in School, which are both cool and eerie, depending on your outlook. Even though you've seen it countless times, the shattering of old wood in the Warehouse at the beginning of the run never gets old due to how many planks are splintered, and the same can be said for the sparks from grinds. Characters look very impressive and have new animations, such as cheering when they complete an objective. It all runs at a solid 60fps, and there are plenty of graphics options to keep that cap or go beyond it.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is emblematic of how good the original arcade skating formula is and how excellent Vicarious Visions is at remastering jobs. Everything here feels just as tight as those original titles but with a fresh coat of paint that will impress those who still play those PlayStation and N64 originals to this day. The quick runs and easy-to-learn controls make for an addictive experience, so you'll find yourself going for just one more run. The addition of online leaderboards and created levels give this game some serious legs, so THPS1+2 is a must-have for your gaming library. The only people who wouldn't enjoy this title are those who live and die by a sim skateboarding experience.

Score: 9.0/10

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