Release Date: October 29th, 2020 (Xbox One, PC, Playstation 4)
Developer: Vicarious Visions
ESRB: Teen (Lyrics)
2020 was the year to expect the unexpected. This is why when Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 was announced, I was not shocked at all. I was, however, super stoked as Tony Hawk’s is a series that almost everyone growing up in the 2000s had played. I personally came in at Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 and definitely lean more towards that middle era of the series where they went more open world and less timed sessions trying to complete tasks. That being said, as long as this game was better than Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and the first attempt at a remake of these two games Activision would have hit a home run.
The button mashing glory of the arcade style games is definitely here and will appease gamers new and old. While it is understandable that it is not in the game, it was a bit disappointing that the developers did not add in the mechanic where one could press a button to push off and gain speed. The game does a decent job deciding how fast the player would be going depending on their line and where they were in the level, but after the Skate series gamers are more accustomed to the freedom that mechanic allows. The mechanics are not all great though as any spin greater than 180 degrees will feel like it will cause the character to fall on the landing. It is like the developers decided to add a dash of realism and went a bit heavy handed. Players are playing this game for the insanity not to barely squeak out a 360 or, if they are brave, a 720 degree trick.
Moving on to a more positive note, the remastered graphics are well done. While they are not photorealistic they are as close to it as you can get and still feel like a Tony Hawk’s game. The character model is actually the worst aspect, with the clothing looking a bit flat with no natural movement. If this was a brand new game it would be more disappointing, however with this being a remaster it ends up not being as big of an issue. It is helped by the game being more about the fluidity of the controls and the movement of your character. Both are buttery smooth, or as buttery smooth as a remaster can be while staying true to the original. That said, again being able to push to increase speed would have been a welcomed addition even if it strayed away from the original intent of the game and levels.
Lastly, the levels stay true to the original as does the progression system. Which means gamers like myself will be locked out of half the game without looking for help. I have many strengths, finding 5 things in a level in under two minutes by myself is not one of them. I can find loops to grind and have numerous combos and multipliers that way all day, but with only four score based tasks a level at some point I have to seek assistance. While this was fine back in the day, the gaming world has shifted to more accessibility and freedom in picking options to tailor make the gaming experience. In 2020, this remaster deserved the option to either play with retro settings or with more modern settings. The latter could have brought down the requirement to just completing one task in the level to unlock the next level. This lets players enjoy the game at their own pace while not being artificially locked out because of whatever reason.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 comes with a magnitude of nostalgic fed fanfare. This is only heighten with the fact that Robomodo has finally been pulled off the series. The remaster being in better, more trusted hands, has kept Activison’s quality remaster streak going. Is the remaster perfect? Not by any means. It could even be argued it should have adapted more modern advances in skateboarding game mechanics. It; however, stays true to the roots while not being a horribly broken mess. At the end of the day, that is what a majority of the gamers wanted out of this release. So for now I will gladly accept this comfort food while hoping we get a solid AAA open world skateboarding game in the near future. Skate 4 has been announced after all… (Ryan Williford; Gaming Editor)
Review copy provided by Activison.