by Nathan Rowland
reviewed on PC
Back to basics
Tony Hawkís Pro Skater franchise has tried to iterate upon itself numerous times over the years, but in doing so, lost what made it special to begin with. Culminating in 2015 with Pro Skater 5, a game which was all but dead on arrival with a litany of bugs and crashes. And so, the bar was set exceedingly low with what Vicarious Visions had to achieve in their remake of the original titles - to recreate that itch and excitement which began two decades ago.
Thankfully, the remake invigorates what made the originals so special; nothing too flash, just simple, enjoyable mechanics that let you string together neat tricks accompanied by killer music. The new visuals donít go overboard in regenerating some of Pro Skaterís now tired looking arenas. One need only look to the now iconic warehouse map to see how this small space is filled with plenty of neat environmental changes and interactables. On the other side of the coin, maps like Los Angeles spread out their experiences with lots of unlockables and challenges to seek out.
Off the grind
Maps/levels were structurally kept for the most part the same. Where changes did occur, it was all for the beneficial quality of life improvements that they provided i.e. new shortcuts to areas that previously took long diversions to get to or on the gameplay side of things: the inclusion of manuals, wall plants, spine transfers and reverts as part of your roster of tricks, most of which didnít show up this early on in the original series. The most important thing is that the game plays as well as you would hope. In past iterations, board mechanics have either felt stiff and cumbersome or on the opposite end, loose and spongy. By the simple act of having nailed this area so well, the game instantly evokes the nostalgic experience of playing the original Pro Skater 1 + 2.
The pacing of the gameís challenges are well implemented. Chasing after longer combos and higher scores is perfectly thrilling and addictive with many heroic highs followed by the eventual soul-crushing wipeouts - all in the vain pursuit of decking your skater avatar with some better threads (Thrasher for life donít @ me). If thereís any critique to be had, itís that over time these challenges often become trivial once youíve naturally become more experienced with the game. A significant change to the challenges, which I personally appreciated, was that the career challenges are now completed once and then done, instead of having to complete them each time when switching between skaters. This cuts down on what I found most tedious and grindy in the originals.
Tony Hawkís Pro Skater 1 + 2 has become a staple for its replayability and an excellent point for newcomers to enter the scene. Iím positive this franchise will have stumbles in the future and weíll see more entries like Tony Hawk: Ride on the Xbox Kinect (remember that trailer? Yeesh) But for now we can all revel in our nostalgic satisfaction that for once, those rose-tinted glasses werenít lying to us after all.
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Visual improvements are great, movement and mechanics are spot on
Challenges can become easier through familiarity