When news broke back in 1999, that real life professional skateboarder Tony Hawk was going to star, and help develop his own video game, fans around the world rejoiced. Never had there been a skateboarding game that captured the true essence of the sport, let alone had the endorsement from a professional skateboarder. Upon its release, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was critically acclaimed, considered revolutionary and praised for its precise control, extensive combo system, spot on physics, and spacious levels.
Since that time, the series has undergone many different changes, and unfortunately none of the later games have ever achieved the success that the first four Pro Skater games have. When news hit last November, that a new game in the classic Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise would be released in 2015, fans celebrated. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 was returning the franchise to its roots, and the first all-new Pro Skater game in 13 years was promised to mark the return of the over-the-top arcade action and style that fans adored.
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Developer: Robomodo, and Disruptive Games
Publisher: Activision Publishing, Inc.
Release date: September 29, 2015
Genre: Extreme sport
Modes: Single-player, 1-20 players online
Rated: T (Teen)
It’s time to skate or die!
There are a total 11 skaters you can choose to play as from the start, including famous pro skaters such as Tony Hawk, Andrew Reynolds, and Aaron “Jaws” Homoki to name a few. Up-and-coming pro skaters make an appearance, and you can even choose to play as the famous rapper Lil Wayne. Right off the bat, I noticed a feature that had been in previous games, was missing. Nowhere can you create your own skater, instead you can now customize any of the skaters with unlockable heads, bodies, and boards. I’ll admit it, is pretty neat to outfit your skater with the unlockable cave man and Octodad bodies.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 ships with eight levels, designed to accommodate the up to 20 players online at a time. Level design is reminiscent of previous classic levels in the series, which in turn offers a mixed bag of results. You’ll find levels that contain elements from the classic games, like School 3, but sadly it’s hobbled together with little to no variation from the originals. On the other hand you’ll come across a level like The Bunker, the spiritual successor to The Warehouse, and Hangar. It has a flow to it that none of the other levels can match, and your skater feels instantly at home in the environment.
You must complete missions in order to unlock all of the levels, which is cool and all, but when every level has the same basic missions, it becomes pretty boring fast. The saving grace are the pro-level missions, these missions will test even the best player’s skill. Do you have what it takes to pull off a 150,000 point combo?
Create the Skatepark of your dreams
Easily one of the best features of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 is the level editor. Here you can build and skate in your own Skatepark, choosing from more than 250 ramps, rails, and objects. It’s here, where I spent most of my time playing the game.
You’ll have five areas to choose from when building your skate park including, the beach, school yard, and warehouse to name a few. Using small, medium or large pre-made template designs you can snap, rotate, and place items with ease. Once you are done creating your master piece you can save it locally and upload it to the cloud for others to play.
Playing levels created by other players, is both frustrating and fun at the same time. I came across some levels that were just absolutely horrible in design, with no missions or goals, while other levels were unique and filled with many different things to see and do. Finding levels to play is a breeze, simply choose from a list or phrases such as “most liked”, “new”, “easy”, or “fun” and you’re set to go. When you’re finished playing you can choose to rate if you like or disliked the level and add your own description of the level for others to search by.
Changes to the way you play
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 brings several changes to the table, but there are a few fundamental changes to the way the game plays from previous versions. The special bar has been modified, no longer do you have to use it right away when it’s filled. Now, when the special bar is full, it will stay that way until you use it by pressing a button. Gone are the days of a wasted boost, and the special crazy button prompts to execute the special tricks. Thanks goodness!
However, the biggest change is the way that grinding now works, previously you would hold down a button as you jumped over a rail or ledge and would start grinding along. Now there is a new “Slam” move, that after you ollie will quickly drop your skater to the ground. This is all fine and dandy, but the problem is that both moves use the exact same button. What’s even worse is that you can’t change this! I constantly found myself missing spots where I would usually grind because I slammed down to the ground instead.
A sight for sore eyes, mixed with music you can jam to
The presentation in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 leaves something to be desired. I’ll be completely honest with you, the graphics are far from you would expect to see on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Environments are bland, and seemingly lack any type of true character. You’ll notice objects flickering, disappearing, and even severe slowdown at times.
Tony Hawk games have been known for their amazing sound tracks, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 does offer a great mixture of hip-hip, punk and rock. With handpicked hits by Tony Hawk himself, you’ll be jamming on your skateboard to The Orwells, Cloud Nothings, and Ratatat.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 suffers from many glitches, which keep you from fully enjoying the game. I could go on and list the numerous glitches in the game, but I think its best you see what I am talking about for yourself. Eurogamer.net put together a video that gives you an excellent idea of what I am talking about. Check it out here.
When I first popped in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and was prompted to download an update that was almost twice the size of the game itself, I knew something was amiss. After waiting a long and wishful 13 years for a new entry in the Pro Skater series, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 isn’t the game many had hoped for. It fails to deliver on the core gameplay elements that made the series great.
There is light at the end of the tunnel though, as Activision, Robomodo, and Disruptive Games have acknowledged issues with the game and are said to be working on a patch to address many of these problems. In addition, free downloadable content (DLC) for the game, in the way of two additional stages and five more skaters, is promised.
In the end, I do believe that with the right fixes and patches Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 could be a worthy contender in the series. Let’s hope the developers pull through with the promised fixes.
+ The level editor is fun, and has more than enough items to create the Skatepark of your dreams
+ Free DLC is on its way
+ Levels created by the community are for the most part fun
– Levels are unimaginative and leave something to be desired
– Glitches in the game are pretty severe and detract from overall gameplay
– Features from previous games are missing such as create your own skater, and the ability to edit tricks
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 2/5
Overall Rating 2.5/5 (50%)