I picked up Tony Hawk‘s Pro Skater HD from the Xbox Live arcade the other day.
I’ve played Tony Hawk’s games since I owned an N64. I’ve played every title of the brand available on consoles I owned since then, up until Proving Ground, which was the last I played. (the daft peripheral was hugely off putting for me) So the other day, at a loose end and with some MS points in my account, I thought I’d pick up Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD.
Sadly I haven’t enjoyed it as much as I’d like.
Firstly; the maps, being refreshed versions of maps from Pro Skater 1 & 2, I’m just too familiar with them and have therefore found them repetitive and boring very quickly. I played these maps to death the first time around, and when I started playing Pro Skater HD (PS HD from hereonin) I realised just how much they had been burned into my memory from the first time around. This is not necessarily PS HD’s fault. After all; I knew what it was before I started downloading it from the Arcade, however, I underestimated how much it would effect my enjoyment of the game, and my nostalgia was insufficient to prevent me from boring of it quickly.
Next; the gameplay experience. It feels so old and antiquated. After years and years of escalating the game to more insanely (yet enjoyably) unrealistic physics for more insane moves, playing PS HD feels slow, cumbersome and has required some annoying adjustment for missing maneuvers that were added in later games. (Like the immortal revert) It has created some maddening frustration on my part. Again, I’m not sure I can hold this against the game as I knew what I was getting into when I clicked ‘download’ – but I’m keen to warn anyone else that they may experience the the same frustration as me.
In some respects the game is TOO faithful to the original Pro Skaters 1 & 2, so much so it still has the dodgy camera angles and glitchy dismounts. The dismounts I can live with, but the challenges with the camera drive me insane. The structure of the game is the classic 2 minute time limit to gather certain collectibles, which is great, except the camera is so shit you have to take multiple runs of the map to simply clock the Hidden Disk location or where the ‘A’ is in ‘SKATE’. I’ve had to rage quit before now at the lunacy of it all. The game at times requires absolute perfection to grab a collectible or complete a challenge yet handicaps you with an unbelievably anti-intuitive camera.
Visually; the game is superb – it definitely delivers on the HD part of it’s title and looks a hell of a lot brushed up from it’s early days. The game also has Avatar support, which I quite like; I enjoy zooming around with my own little character.
The game has certainly has some longevity for an Arcade title; I’d estimate I’ve had around 7/8 hours of gameplay from the game doing the bare minimum to unlock all the levels and competing a little online. These hours were clocked playing in short stints up to an hour at a time and it’s a handy game to throw on for half an hour or so while waiting for an oven meal or as the little one naps. I have begun to tire of it now for the reasons above, but for a Tony Hawks noob with a strong completionist streak it could last quite some time.
This is definitely NOT the game for score-whoring by anybody, other than those who are highly accomplished Tony Hawk’s players – those Cheevs are tough. I’ve done just enough to unlock all of the maps and have secured only 45 points of the 400 Gamerscore available from this game. One quick look at this game’s Trueachievements.com ratios will show you how tough this game is for GS; between just 10 – 20% of Trueachievements registered PS HD players have collected the points for some of the more challenging achievements.
I definitely do not see myself accruing much more Gamerscore from this game.
Would I recommend it?
Probably not, unless you were a total Tony Hawk newcomer who was curious or an absolute hardcore fan. For a newcomer it is a great little intro to the franchise, and the intended DLC that will work chronologically through earlier Tony Hawk’s games could make it quite the keeper for a noob to become addicted to. For those people I am jealous to consider the new experience it will bring.
I’d definitely not recommend it to those who frustrate easily with these types of games or to players looking to boost their Gamerscore on the cheap.
Anyone else give it a go? Did you find the same as I did? Let me know…