I could start this article by quoting Goldfinger’s ‘Superman’, maybe talk about how Activision/Vicarious Visions have pulled a ‘900’ or propose that this could see the start of a phoenix-esc rise of Tony Hawk games again. But frankly all you need to know is if you like skating games, if you’ve never played one before, or if you own a games console, you will sink hours into this and come back wanting more.
90’s nostalgia seeps out of the title as it loads, cutting into an opening video of skaters old and new, before the aforementioned well known ska song bursts out the speakers and the throwback journey begins. There’s a simplicity to the title, much like the originals, with easy to navigate menus, natural level progression and the ability to load up and jump straight into a level quickly. The loading times are slightly lengthy, but that can be forgiven.
Gameplay wise, the controls are t-o-ight. What made the original titles a hit is back with a vengeance, the easy to pick up and play, but devastatingly hard to master tricks and combos, quick two minute runs and quirky objectives are all back. The levels from THPS 1 have had a couple of additional objectives added (to make it equal to the sequel), the stat upgrades are now items to be collected and carry across both 1 and 2. But the true improvement from the originals comes from the way this looks. VV haven’t just given this a fresh lick of paint – this is a loving hand-made recreation with all the bells and whistles. Every level has its own personality, the School II level is cast in a gorgeous golden hour sunlight, Mall feels post-apocalyptic with vines and dirt-smeared glass everywhere and I didn’t think Venice Beach could have more graffiti until I got there!
Music wise I don’t think I need to touch on this – but frankly whoever in the team handled the additional tracks needs a raise. The fluidity of the soundtrack is as solid as ever to a point that it didn’t really click that there were new songs until I loaded my THPS Spotify playlist and noticed Chick Norris’ “Made Me Do” wasn’t on there.
Multiplayer is spot on – I never thought THPS would ever achieve a good online presence and while it is limited, currently at least, the drop in and out sessions of Trick Attack and Graffiti are incredible fun and being able to play old school Hawk with a friend both on my sofa split screen or while they’re COVID bound on their own is just awesome.
Create-A-Park is back as well. It isn’t close to what I was last hooked on in regards to skate park creation in video games (especially with the crazy-ness that was park creation in Skate III), it does go above and beyond the originals. Alongside parks, we have a Create-A-Skater that could rival some RPGs out there. Again, not the same level in regards to board/pattern/logo design to past skating titles, but it’s got plenty to enjoy.
My only gripe is it feels a little lack luster for the price tag. There is technically two games in one, plus the free runs that have been slid in and the online play, but I can’t really see how this can be justified at £40. If you’re picking this game up to complete it once, you’ll maybe get 2-4 hours out of it until you’re done. There are 500+ “Challenges”, but they’re just tick lists to grind out, not really anything standout. Personally however, I’ve sunk over 10 hours into it myself already. It’s easy to replay, to try and beat old scores, to try and make gaps and lines with friends and just have an all around a great time.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1+2 proves once more that Vicarious Visions are an upcoming titan in the gaming industry. They can produce art on a disc and I would give them a full blessing to create an original THPS title based on the minimal time I’ve had with this title so far. Hawk is back, he’s on top form and flipping great.