Thursday, 13 September 2012

Review: Tony Hawk HD (360)

To say that a significant amount of my downtime in college was spent playing Tony Hawk would be a gross understatement. The pick up and play nature of the game was tailor made for a 3 minute micro-break or the "see if you can beat that" group play with friends.

Tony Hawk HD certainly looks and sounds like the old game brought forward in time. The old levels look amazing without any subtractions; the soundtrack as playful as you'd expect. The initial experience will bring back the flood of nostalgia, and hopefully your hands will also remember the fluidity with which to connect those hand-wrenching combos. Replaying the old game is a great way to feel old… my hands were just screaming after a couple of hours, and I could easily remember planting myself in front of the TV in the basement for a day or two.

The gameplay is pretty authentic to the old experience, limiting you to the original moveset from the first two games. So the chaining tricks that we all learned from Tony Hawk 3 and later don't work… no revert and the smaller manual trick-set. Sure those will be added with planned DLC, but for now the handcuffs are still on. If nothing else, it reminds me how bad I was at putting together a decent line back in the day and used to make up for it by putting together inhuman manual sets to boost my multiplier score on bad tricks. 
After the second honeymoon experience wears off, you sort of hit the wall with the game and all the flaws start to become apparent.

At its center, the game is pretty much just a ton of repetition on the same few small levels. Back in the day, this was forgivable as it represented a limitation of the original hardware; now it represents a cardinal sin. Realistically, I should be getting all levels from the first 2 or 3 games here to try and match the depth of game that I would get from a modern title. Most of the game length comes from the 10-20 times that you are going to have to replay a level in order to get all the achievements done on it… and then redoing it again with each of the characters. Not exactly my idea of replayability.
Graphically there are some odd issues – quite often I found my character phasing through solid objects especially during grinds or manuals; and more than once my character fell through the level all the while the clock ticks away mercilessly to mock the inexplicable actions on screen. The ragdoll physics of the characters after a bail is easily the most out of place. To paraphrase my girlfriend… "is Tony Hawk humping the ground or is he having a seizure?"
All in all, Tony Hawk HD proves that while you can't always go back, it certainly can be a lot of run to reminisce. Definitely worth a short-term pickup or for a quick break from reality… long term though? Not really.
- Tazman

The Good:
- Re-live the numerous wasted hours of your youth!
- Superb soundtrack that you'd come to expect from a classic THPS game

The Bad:
- Pretty anorexic experience, lot of missing modes
- Some just plain odd crash dynamics

Score: 7.0 / 10