Grind ‘em Rails! Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Review

Our Rating
4.5
out of 5.0

This game was reviewed on Xbox 360

As a 90s’ child with a game console and three older brothers, the Tony Hawk series holds nostalgia for me.  We used to spend the days doing kick flips and one-eighties while Motorhead’s “Ace of Spaces” played in the background. As the sequels were released, we picked them up loyally until we started moving out and going to school.  The spell was broken.  Happily, the new Tony Hawk game for Xbox Marketplace restores that old magic.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD takes a critical eye to the sequels to the original hits and cuts away the bloat with laser-like precision.  The game is pared down significantly, and the price tag matches the content.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: the result is slim, trim, addictive, and well worth the price of fifteen dollars.  I sat down with the intention of playing the game for an hour and ended up in the “just one more game” trap until 3:00a.m.

The game’s graphics are pleasing to look at without being ostentatious. .  Players can pick from a selection of characters, or they can opt to use their own Xbox 360 Avatar to skate with.  I chose my Avatar and I was surprised at how organic and smooth it looked while still being hilariously cartoony.   The game also has a ‘Big Head’ Survival mode, collectable letters in every level, and a definite sense of humour.

The music is a bit disappointing; there are fourteen songs in the game, and a few of them tend to fade into the background with their lack of notability.  More variety and more noise to the soundtrack would be an improvement; as it is, all the music sounds a bit generic and blends together.  However, the sound of your skateboard remains crisp and makes performing a successful move, heading down a ramp or pulling off a grind satisfying.

There are no tutorials and the instructions are very vague.  It can take a while for players to pick this game up, especially if they haven’t played any of the previous installments. However, once the player successfully figures out the mechanics, it plays like a dream.  There are several game modes, ranging from quick and score-heavy (such as Single Session) to leisurely trying to pull off a neat trick in Free Session.  Hawkman and Big Head Survival are also among the game’s modes.  In Hawkman you collect brightly colored orbs in a surprising test of skill.  Big Head Survival leads to fun moments of skating carefully so that your skater’s comically overinflated head doesn’t explode for a game over. There are achievements, of course, and collectibles (the letters S, K, A, T, E) to find in every level, so once you feel like you’ve bested your initial goals you can move on to letter searching and achievement earning.

When playing Career or Free Skate, you’ll find that the game really proves itself worthy of the expectations that fans of previous editions will have.  Skating is fun and easy, chaining up combos is challenging yet satisfying, and wiping out can be just as fun as pulling a move off perfectly.  The game doesn’t boast any particular depth or skill cap, but it’s a joy to play and it’s the perfect mindless entertainment to blow off some stress.  Sadly, multiplayer is online only, which means playing with your pals can be a hassle.

Ultimately, if you can spare the cash, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a great game to wile away some stress-free time on.  Unlike a competitive game or one with a high skill cap, you’ll rarely be frustrated while playing.  On the other side of the coin, you won’t feel bored or unchallenged.  This franchise has been through some rough times, but the formula is finally perfected.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD receives a 4.5/5.0

Our Rating
4.5
out of 5.0

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