The world has gone far too long without a proper new Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game, and after the absolute trainwreck that was THPS 5, many fans, including myself, had begun to fear that the heydays of this iconic franchise were well behind us.
But then back in May of this year the trailer dropped for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, and a spark of hope was ignited within the fandom. Not only was this trailer signaling the return of some of the best skating games in the world, it was signaling the return of some of the best games ever made, period.
And after playing through the game over the past few days, I can say with confidence that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is back once again.
One of the most obvious improvements that you’ll notice about this game over the originals is just how fantastic it looks. Each of the levels from THPS 1 and THPS 2 are present here, and they have been stunningly remade with a number of different visual and technical improvements.
Bringing these locations up to par with modern level design means that not only do they all look much more crisp and detailed, but a lot of the old loading tricks like distance fog are gone here. No longer will you have to put up with buildings just popping into view in some of the larger maps in the game. Lighting is also up to current standards, and it is used to incredible effect in levels like Venice Beach from THPS 2.
These are still the same maps that players remember so fondly, with mostly the same layouts, but the art direction has been updated for the better as well. The developers have given their own new visual twist to a lot of these classic locations, and I personally think that they are much better because of it. Some of them are almost unrecognizable until you start playing, and then the memories just come flooding back.
The core gameplay of the title is the same as it’s ever been, and revolves around players making use of the environment to pull off as many sick tricks as possible. Chaining tricks creates combos and multipliers, and the struggle to outdo yourself with each passing moment is as captivating as ever.
All of the original tricks from THPS 1 and THPS 2 are present here in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, but the list has also been updated with some of the newer tricks from later entries like THPS 3 and the Underground games. Think of this collection of tricks as a curated list of some of the best moves the series has to offer.
The gameplay is much faster and smoother than in the originals as well, and so the tricks both look and feel much better than ever before. It also helps that the new animations look really good for the most part as well. I wouldn’t call the gameplay more challenging, but it does feel more demanding in the best possible ways.
A number of maps in the game, especially the ones from THPS 1, have also bolstered with newer challenges and collectibles, and making your way down the checklists is incredibly rewarding. These give players a general list of things to accomplish on top of the essential goals, and give them a reason to stick around well after they should have moved on.
And on top of map specific challenges, there are also an overall set of challenges to complete that are not tied to any one area. Some of these are really time consuming, but they reward players with unique skateboarding decks and cash to spend on customization items for their own custom characters.
There’s just a lot to do in this game, and it’s good to know that developer Vicarious Visions have built this game with a lot of replayability in mind. After all, a lot of the fans of the original games have been going back to them again and again over the past two decades, and now they have a reason to keep coming back to this new remake.
The music playlists in these games have always been a big part of creating the whole skateboarding ambiance that this series has strived to achieve, and I’m very glad to see most of the original soundtrack return here.
But on top of all the classics like Rage Against The Machine’s Guerrilla Radio or Goldfinger’s Superman, the soundtrack has been massively expanded with both newer and older artists from over the years. Not everything works to be completely fair, but a lot of the newer music is still really good.
All in all, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is perhaps one of the best remakes we’ve ever seen. The visuals are stunning, the soundtrack is great and the nostalgia is actually backed up with some world class gameplay.
I am so glad this series is back.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is out now on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. It was developed by Vicarious Visions and published by Activision. This review covers the Xbox One version of the game.
The review code was provided by the publisher.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 Review
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a return to form for this legendary series, and it should appeal to both new and returning players.