Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 Review: The Birdman Is Back

  • Playstation 4
  • Windows
  • Xbox One
  • Sports
NOTE: This article is a contribution and do not necessarily represent the views of Player One.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is exactly the game I was hoping for
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 is exactly the game I was hoping for Activision

The Tony Hawk franchise of games was, up until recently, like that high school friend of yours that you were really close with growing up. You spent all your time together creating great memories. However, you grew up and moved on while your friend tried to live in the past, creating a warped sense of reality that just wasn’t very good. It’s now time to wipe the slate clean and rid ourselves of the past (looking at you Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5) and move into the future.

What does any of that even mean? I’m not quite sure. But what I am sure of is that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is the Tony Hawk return we have been waiting for. Not only does it live up to the classic games, it surpasses them with added graphics quality and silky smooth gameplay.

I was initially wary of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. In my preview article, I mentioned that I was cautiously optimistic about the gameplay and needed more than just the Warehouse demo to solidify my feelings. Now that the whole game is here, I can say with confidence that the caution has been thrown out. It’s not needed anymore.

Levels are exactly how you remember them, and even the hidden collectibles are largely in the same places that they were before. Even better, the levels have much higher quality graphics now, allowing you to find more appreciation for each one. It was a joy unlocking each level to see how it looks compared to my memories.

What I like most about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is that it rides the perfect line between nostalgia and revamping for a new audience. Yes, we still have Goldfinger’s Superman and Rage Against the Machine’s Guerrilla Radio, but there are also new songs from more modern artists on the soundtrack as well. The same goes for the list of included pro skaters. The Bob Burnquists and Bucky Laseks are there, but so are new faces like Tyshawn Jones and Aori Nishimura, new skaters to introduce to a new generation (and old generation!) of gamers.

Similarly, there are also new features in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 that weren’t possible back with the original releases. The most obvious inclusion is the presence of the internet. Now you can share your created skateparks with friends and even compete against other players. Of course, traditionalists will still be able to play Graffiti, Horse, and other game modes with a friend on the same screen.

Unfortunately, not everything new is a worthwhile addition. The menu system, the leveling up, and the Challenge system are all a little too busy for me. It seems like developer Vicarious Visions felt the need to include some kind of battle pass-like progression system, which doesn’t really add much to the experience. The challenges aren’t presented that well either. Whenever I did complete a challenge, I wasn’t even aware of what I did to complete it.

While I felt that this was a bit of an unnecessary addition, it’s pretty minimal and doesn’t really take anything away from the core skating gameplay. I just had to go over to the Challenges tab every now and then to clear out my accomplishments. It doesn’t diminish the overall experience much, but it also doesn’t really add anything either.

Similarly, the character creator is a bit bare-bones. There aren’t any sliders to customize your appearance, so you’ll be stuck picking between a handful of stock faces. The game also starts with a vast majority of items locked away, so you’ll probably need to revisit the character creator a few times once you unlock the items you want, or earn enough money to buy them. I will say, props to the developers for not keeping items locked behind loot boxes or other microtransactions. Everything can only be earned by playing.

Regardless of how I feel about any of the new additions, ultimately Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is exactly the game I have been wanting. It takes the near-flawless gameplay of the originals and brings it to a modern audience, while cleaning up the rough edges and making everything look as good as I remembered. Even more impressively, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 has one foot in the calming waters of nostalgia, and the other foot in the rougher waters of new ideas, and manages to pull both off. This is a game that was made for people to relive classic gaming memories, while also providing an impeccable new entry point for those who haven’t played a Tony Hawk game before.

So, uh, can we do the same for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 + 4 next?

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