I have been a massive fan of the Tony Hawk games since I played the first game of the series on the original Playstation. It was thrilling and different. There had never been a game like it and if there had I didn’t know about it. I didn’t need to know about it. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater did what it did perfectly. It had great level design, easy controls, a freedom to play how you wanted and all to an amazing soundtrack (which by the way certainly had a massive influence on the music I have listened to throughout my life). Both the single player and the multi player were superb. This was before the days of online when playing against your friends was through a simple split screen and it was a wonderful experience. My favourite part was trying to out trick your opponent and avoid receiving another letter of a rude word you and your friends felt was hilarious in the game “Horse.”
It seemed like the series got stronger with each new game. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 was a further step in the right direction with an expansion on the first game before the third game took it to another level on the Playstation 2. By far my favourite was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 when online play really took off. I remember staying up until the early hours of the morning taking on players all over the world in such classic modes such as “Trick Attack” and my personal favourite “King of the Hill.”
There was also a great social aspect to playing the games online too. In between matches you would enter free skate where you could chat to the other players in the room in between pulling off massive combos and before matches started. Sometimes the host wouldn’t even bother starting a match because it wasn’t always needed. It was just great skating around and chatting in the fantastic levels. It is still to this day my favourite online experience with regards to gaming. For someone like me who only left the house for 3 hours a day to work a low paying job in a chemist, I loved making virtual friends in an environment I felt much more comfortable in than I did real life.
The series continued with a different story based direction with Tony Hawk’s Underground. It was still as enjoyable for me as ever as again the levels were so well designed and the gameplay remained just as fun. The online play was also as fantastic as it’s predecessor and once you maxed out the stats of your created character in story mode, it was all about taking them online to show off your creation.
Being creative was another great aspect of the game. You could create your own unique skater with their own skateboard and even going as far as creating their own individual special trick. It was about being an individual and customisation was an integral part of the success of the series. You didn’t want to look the same as anyone else when smashing out the massive point totals. No, you wanted to be who you wanted to be, look how you wanted to look, play how you wanted to play. These games gave you that freedom. That’s why I loved the Tony Hawk’s series.
The first five games were as enjoyable as each other and Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 was also a good game but you could see the series was losing it’s way a bit, choosing to head down the Jackass TV show route, integrating elements of the show into the game. Don’t get me wrong it was still a hugely entertaining game but for me I had enjoyed the previous efforts more. The games after this certainly got worse with each instalment and the Tony Hawk era was over. They never got back to the high standards they had once achieved.
Attempts to relaunch the series by plugging a replica skateboard into your console to play the game failed miserably. The game went back to basics in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD on the PS3. I enjoyed playing classic levels from the previous games in HD but somehow it didn’t quite feel right. Robomodo never captured the feel of the game the same way Neversoft had. There was also no creative modes meaning you weren’t able to be your own character or design your own levels or boards. There was no sense of individuality. It wasn’t the same.
When they announced Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 was in development for the PS4 I was excited. I couldn’t help it. With the new share features on the console there were possibilities to share photos and videos of you pulling off amazing tricks. I always kept track of how the development of the game was going through articles on the Internet, along with following the specially set up Instagram account which provided clips of the game before it’s release. Ok it didn’t look fantastic and people didnt seem very impressed, but I always thought it wouldn’t matter as long as the gameplay was great.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 came out last Friday and as I had pre-ordered it my copy came the day before. I was excited to play and I had purposely avoided the reviews so I could make my own judgements. I put the game in the console when I got home from work that day and it seemed very quick to install. Then came the 7gb update file I had to download. This took a little longer. In fact it took too long. Urgh. It basically ate up the whole evening’s playing time. Great. I still remained optimistic…until I actually got round to playing the game. Urgh again.
There are so many things wrong it’s difficult to know where to start. First off the glitches. The game basically doesn’t work properly. It’s unfinished. There was no great demand for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 so there was absolutely no need to rush the release. I continued to play. The first level you are given to skate around is uninspiring at best. Boring in fact. As are the missions. Plus they changed the controls and assigned a pointless slam action to the same button as grind meaning your combos get ruined. Why do that? Why? They said they wanted to make the game like the older more successful original games so why make silly changes like that? Why?
To unlock a new level you need to get a certain amount of stars. Again another pointless change to the original goals system which worked so well previously. It means you now have to take part in several boring missions to obtain these stars in order for you to unlock another terribly designed level.
Other things wrong with this game are that there is no create a skater mode, however it’s OK because you can customise the already available characters. Well that isn’t the same is it? The options for customisation are also very limited and not worth doing. The online play also doesn’t work, with all other players glitching around the screen or stuck in one place or in a wall or something equally ridiculous. How could online play be done so well over 10 years ago but not now?
I didn’t get too far into the game before I stopped playing, but basically the soundtrack is also not great and the game is ultimately not worth the full game price tag it has. If you would like an in depth review there are plenty out there that will confirm how awful this game is.
Since the release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 Activision have released a statement basically agreeing that the game doesn’t work properly and promising to fix it. I will see how this turns out but it’s going to need a lot of fixing in order to make the game any good. This has been a real eye opener and is confirmation that the Tony Hawk series will never be good again. I have realised if I want that experience of playing the old Tony Hawk games, I should do just that on a ps2 or backward compatible ps3. I will always love the original games and the memories they gave me.