When I was a kid, a blue cartridge for the Nintendo 64 came around and had me hooked instantly. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is one of those classic franchises that we all missed, but understood why it went away. Over-saturation and poorer quality over the years made fans fall out love with the franchise. While Activision were mostly responsible for the decline, they are also responsible for what could be called the rebirth. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is a new take on an old favorite, and attempts to bring old players back in by delivering that beloved experience in one meaty package. Does it accomplish that? Let’s find out.
Well, no story to have here, but there are the main “Skate Tour” modes, which acts as an overall progression campaign. Players are tasked with picking up collectibles, performing environmental stunts, and clearing each goal in order to progress. If you have played before, not much has changed as most everything can be found in the same places for both titles. If you are new, think of it as Banjo-Kazooie (or any other Rare platformer) with a skateboard. Collect, progress, finish.
Players have two minutes typically, and must manage their goals appropriately in order to succeed. For instance, if I am going to collect the letters, I am only going to hunt for those first, as mixing goals easily equates into nothing getting accomplished. Luckily, a level can be played over and over again, and this is where the addiction truly begins.
Exquisite. That is the best word to describe the physics engine at work within Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. The control scheme is fully customizable and feels fluid and effortless, allowing for players to concentrate on what really matters, like achieving high combos with tricks and practicing their ability to land correctly. With that mess of a remake that was released years back, it was easy to see how hard it must have been to re-create and re-modernize this old engine. I think one of the best qualities of this remake is how well Beenox put together everything to not only make it feel familiar, but also current.
The parks themselves are varied and offer a lot of room for both exploration and stunt work. Nearly everything is interactive, and I think every single park I played I would always spend my first run just taking a look around before going for any goals. That is kind of the gimmick at work here. You need to explore to understand where to go next, and how to get up to that once impossible height to capture some odd collectible or tape. Rewards come through satisfaction and progression, and with the new shop system which allows for a ton of cool (and free) unlockable content for players to grab.
The experience system also works well, letting the player level up, adjust stats, and more to their own custom skater. I, for the first time – had to turn down stats to get that damn tape at Downhill Jam, as it is awkwardly placed and can be missed quickly. I think I made over 30 attempts before adjustments, but that is a good thing, as this accessibility into these stats create opportunities to improve, as in reality – a truly air-borne skater is usually always going to over-shoot ground goals, and this kind of acts as the game’s gravity.
I also want to spend a second speaking about the in-game mods, which were formally cheats, allowing for infinite balance, no bails, and so on. I fell like twenty times in a minute booting up the game, and I wondered if I would just not get better. Being able to turn on the mods kind of gave me this worry-free mentality that truly enhanced my experience as I got to ease into the same game I remembered. Now of course I don’t need the mods, but for younger gamers or old timers like myself, it was awesome to have that option from the start. Multiplayer can be done online or locally, and it is great getting to play modes like Graffiti all over again. Players can also download a ton of maps, which as of right now I have only started to scratch the surface on the massive create a park option.
I don’t think anyone would expect jaw dropping visuals from a Tony Hawk remake, but what is here is nice and gets the job done. All classic skaters have current scans of their faces, and while that is a bit of a “HEY YOU ARE OLDER!” alarm for myself, it is kind of a nice idea for this iteration. Animations are great and due to there being so many to see, it is awesome to have them transfer so smoothly into this remake without much stutter or issue. I think I may have had a couple of small visual hiccups (like seeing through a ramp or two), but none were bothersome or common, and this is definitely the greatest skating game to come out graphically this generation.
As soon as I heard Goldfinger, I was back. The soundtrack for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater: 1+2 is phenomenal, but you knew that. Most tracks from the past titles are back and sound great, and if you don’t like them, this game is absolutely just as great with a playlist running behind it of your own choosing. Voice acting is minimal, but Tony did a great job voicing himself for the tutorials and such, and grunts and sound effects add some nice character to the game. You want fear? Go to the Streets level and hear a horn honk without sliding off the road in safety.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater: 1+2 was the best take on its genre three generations ago, and it is back to take its throne as the finest example of a skating game today. With few flaws, addictive gameplay, and an awesome soundtrack – it will go down as one of the best titles of this generation hands down. Personally, as an adult, some games just feel too intimidating to commit to, and the accessibility here makes this a relaxing and endearing romp that I have been thinking about going back to throughout every paragraph of this review. What should I do next? What can I build? When you are asking yourselves these questions minutes after an hours-in session, you definitely have a title that earns its keep and is absolutely a recommend.
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