“BASS, how low can you go?” In the words of Chuck D of Public Enemy, one of the most memorable tracks from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, the games HD revitalization can go pretty low. Released in 1999, the combined efforts of Neversoft and Activision resulted in the spawn of a beautiful chapter in the history of gaming. The first of its kind it accurately portrayed skateboarding like never before. We all remember the red-green-red grind balance bar or the red-yellow-green manual bar, which after long periods of grinds and manuals became like taming a tornado. The series stemmed many children including Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2,3 and 4. The ground breaking Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Underground (In which you could finally get off your board!) and Underground 2 came soon after. As the franchise started to wither Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, Tony Hawk’s Project 8, Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam, Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground, Tony Hawk’s Motion, and Tony Hawk’s Ride were released, each more inbred than the last. But 2012 seems to be a year for roots; Activision teamed up with Chicago based developers Robomodo to create the High Definition version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
For 15 dollars on XBL marketplace, also available on PSN, you can plunge yourself back into the world of Warehouses, Hangars and School’s that we all grew up in. You can also download the demo, which gives you less than two minutes to collect “S-K-A-T-E” letters and manifests, smash boxes and find the secret DVD. Then before your time is up the board is pulled out from under you and you find yourself at the classic “Unlock Full Game” screen. This edition features only seven levels taken from both THPS and THPS2. Warehouse, School II, Hangar, Mall, Marseille, Downhill Jam, and Venice Beach are your unauthorized skate parks. However, on July 3, a DLC pack was announced that will contain THPS3 content such as the levels Airport, Los Angeles and Canada; with this DLC players will be allowed to perform reverts to help rack up the points. The DLC will be $5 or 400 Microsoft points, and released late in the summer of 2012. The game features 16 achievements/trophies, a much welcome feature to keep players skating toward a goal.
The characters aren’t the original line up of Burnquist, Campbell, Glifberg, Hawk, Lasek, Muska, Reynolds, Rowley, Steamer and Thomas; instead this features more modern skaters who haven’t had much digital exposure. Features such as Create-A-Skater and Create-A-Park are non-existent. Instead of punching in cheat codes, THPS HD offers unlocks as you progress through story mode. Grinding around a fountain just to set your controller down and return later to see how many points you racked up has now become easier. Glitches such as odd bails, surface drop-through, and grinds resulting in the figurative disembowelment of your skater are just some of the technical issues within the game.
There are online modes such as Graffiti and Trick Attack return, as long with a new mode called Big Head Elimination in which the skater must perform tricks to prevent his/her rapidly expanding head from exploding. The cherished HORSE mode has been left behind, however.
We must remember that the game was not put together by the exact same people and in making an arcade style game there will always be something missing. With the advance in skating games, such as the “Skate”, with its complex yet realistic and enjoyable game play, the simple style of Tony Hawk games need not be forgotten. There’s nothing wrong with popping up for a crooked grind on your local neighborhood telephone wires. And what’s wrong with an Ollie over a bum once in a while? Although the game may not be what gamers expected, or worth what it costs, it is a welcome gesture compared to the last few Tony Hawk games.
Here’s a hint: hold down LT and press A,B,Y at the SKATER SELECT SCREEN.
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