Developer: Robomodo, Disruptive Games
Genre: Extreme Sports
ESRB: T – due to mild lyrics
As a young man in high school, I literally wore out my copy of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on the PlayStation. Hundreds of hours were logged, thumb sticks were stripped, and memories were made playing one of the first great games of my generation. To this day, when I hear music from that first installment, it teleports me back to those days.
You can imagine my excitement when I finally had a chance to play Tony Hawk on the “Next Gen” console. Having played it over the last few days, however, I still prefer to hang on to my early memories of the original game.
There is no story in THPS5. Upon loading the game, you immediately choose among playing, customizing your skater, building your own park, or playing the tutorial. The game makes the assumption that you have played one of the Tony Hawk games in the past. There is no build up to playing, just an immediate “push to start.”
Violence: There is a “rag doll” effect when your skater takes a fall, but no blood.
Language: The in-game skaters don’t talk, but when you play a map, you can overhear conversations by other live players.
One in-game song mentions the word “whores.”
Drugs/Alcohol: Some of the songs playing in the background contain lyrics that mention drugs. “Might go psycho like you had weed or dust,” sings one. Another says, “Everybody wants to stay high.” Fortunately, the lyrics and songs can be turned off.
Sexual Content: Some of the songs contain suggestive lyrics, such as “Freaks and whores, on corners stackin’ more cheese than pizza stores” and “chicks’ll ditch the geek they came with/to hit the streets and trick for weeks.” Again, the lyrics and songs can be switched off.
For those not familiar with the Tony Hawk series, it’s rather straightforward. You choose your skater, and then go from venue to venue to complete challenges and rack up your score. There are often hidden items throughout each map, like VHS tapes (what are those?) or DVDs. You can also challenge yourself to collect the letters S-K-A-T-E. Each map has a dozen challenges in addition to the standard “collect this item” challenge. These challenges are made up of high score runs and unique mini games, such as a mode where you must continue your score streak to keep your head from filling with air and becoming increasingly bigger. If you don’t keep your combo going your head pops like a balloon.
You control your skater by holding down either the “A” button, pressing forward on the “D” pad or thumb stick, or holding the right trigger. Any of these actions will make your skater go forward, but not all of them are reasonable for playing, and they actually complicate the game. For example, holding “A” will propel your character forward, but when you release it, your character does an Ollie (jumps in the air with the skateboard).
There are several frustrations within the game. The loading time between challenges is far too long, especially for a “Next Gen” game. In order to access the challenges, you have to skate over to a marker on the map and hold “X” to activate the challenge. This doesn’t begin the actual challenge you chose, but brings you to a map where you will pick from one of the challenges available. Basically, the marker points are obsolete; it would be easier and less distracting to press the menu button and access the challenges from there. As I mentioned with the loading issues, when you complete a challenge, it takes you several seconds to load back into the map that you were just in. It’s far from seamless and completely frustrating. There were times when the challenges wouldn’t even load and a restart was required to keep playing.
My kids really enjoy the “Build a Park” feature, likely because it’s similar to Minecraft. They put up with a lot more than I do when it comes to how a game should be played. My expectations are higher and my experiences are different.
When you enter a skate park, you are forced to play with other people in the park with you. Without disconnecting from the internet, I have yet to figure out how to play a game by myself.
The graphics are incredibly disappointing for an Xbox One game. I would guess that it is because this game was actually built for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Even so, the frame rate drops much too often. The graphics are almost too cartoony with a cell-shading texture that is off-putting. EA’s Skate games bring a higher resolution and sense of realism to this genre that I would have expected to be adopted.
The sound is incredibly glitchy and buggy throughout. During my playthrough, there were times the sound would cut out as if it had been paused, then start playing again; or times it would just begin playing a new song altogether–annoying and baseless. Twice I had to reset the game because it just froze, and it wasn’t my console as the home screen worked fine.
If you were in love with the Tony Hawk genre, you may find a bit of fun playing through this game, but I fear you will be left with more disappointment than fulfillment. I can’t with good conscience recommend this game as a purchase, but a rental for “ol’ time’s sake” could be worthwhile.
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The Bottom Line
Though Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 may be a blast from the past for some, as a franchise it's really better off left in the past.