Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Review
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Box Art
System: Xbox 360*, PS3, PC
Dev: Robomodo
Pub: Activision
Release: July 18, 2012
Players: 1-4
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Blood, Violence
Hawkin' It Up
by Josh Wirtanen

Tony Hawk is a living legend. And no, I don't mean because he invented a good portion of skateboarding as we know it (though I have to hand it to him, there's that). I say this because he has his name tied to perhaps the greatest extreme sports video game franchise on the planet, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Screenshot

Now, you might roll your eyes at this sentiment if you've played any of the more recent games that bear his namesake, but in the PSOne era, there was no bigger name in skateboard games. The original gave us a control scheme that actually felt good (perhaps the first PSOne-era extreme sports title to accomplish this feat), but the real peak of the series was THPS 2, which added the manual that let us string together absurdly long combos and rack up scores that were so big that it hurt our eyes just to look at them.

Now, the modern age has given rise to the HD remake, and while most of the games to get makeovers tend to be gems from the PS2 generation, I think we can all agree that the THPS series is very worthy of a triumphant return.

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Well, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD is here, and, for a downloadable title, it looks great. It's not the best-looking game on the market by any stretch of the imagination, but it at least makes itself worthy of the "HD" in its title. It's certainly a lot of fun getting to see these old levels (that are probably etched into our brains by now) re-imagined for modern-day consoles. And the blood splatter effects are deliciously juicy. (Those wipeouts hurt!)

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Screenshot

Now, I have to admit here that I spent ungodly amounts of time playing the original THPS and THPS2 back in the day. While I didn't get to put in the hundreds of hours into THPS HD that I would have liked to, I can say with confidence that it plays exactly how I remember. It took me maybe five minutes before my brain and hands re-adjusted to the control scheme and my muscle memory kicked in.

What's most surprising about this is that they feel good. That's quite a statement to make about a PSOne-era title. I mean, try saying that about Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, or Final Fantasy VII. Somehow, in an era that hadn't really figured out how to make non-awkward controls, Tony Hawk managed to get things just right.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Screenshot

But perhaps that is nostalgia speaking—I mean, the game works really hard to trigger those nostalgia centers in our brains—but I don't think it's just that. I honestly feel like these are the perfect controls for a skateboarding game, and linking combos together for massive multipliers just feels right. It's like being home again after a decade-long vacation.

Okay, so I'm going to make one tiny complaint here before I move on. I played the game on Xbox 360, since it's not out yet on PS3, but I found myself itching to have a Sony-branded controller in my hand. We all know the 360's D-pad sucks, and, for those of us who played THPS on PSOne, the PS3 controller would make the experience feel so much more authentic. Still, I had absolutely no trouble adjusting.


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