Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Review (PS4) – The Good Kind Of Grind

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is exactly what it sounds like—the first two games in the series, but modernised. It comes with updated graphics, an improved frame rate and the full moveset from THPS4, including reverts, spine transfers, a flatland trick roster and easier grind combos. Otherwise, it’s the same and it’s still bloody great. That’s it; that’s the review.

…alright, here’s some more.

After the disaster of 2012’s floaty, wrong-headed Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, and the atrocious Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, this is the exact thing fans have been asking for. If you’ve played these games before, you can expect your muscle memory to kick in immediately on the first Warehouse level.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Review

The punk and ska-heavy soundtrack is back (with a mix of old classics and new tracks), the ridiculous gaps are right where you remember them, and those SKATE letters are still placed where you grabbed them the first time, 20 years ago. When Tony (or whoever you choose to play as) lets out a joyful whoop as you land a big trick, it’s hard not to want to join in with a whoop of your own.

Of course, in-between these early Tony Hawk games and the later awful ones, there were a bunch of other great Tony Hawk titles. The shadows of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 & 4, in particular, loom large over this package—for all its many qualities, these are games that are showing their age in a few key areas.

The visual and performance upgrade drag these games into the modern-day and damn if they don’t look great. Although the upgrade can’t hide the fact that the levels feel a bit sparse and empty in single-player games, the upgrade is otherwise excellent, with every level being rebuilt from the ground up. It’s a good-looking game by modern standards, but more important is the frame-rate increase.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 runs at a stable 60FPS, which gives the game a sense of flow and fluidity that far surpasses the original releases.

The expanded trick roster also greatly increases your score potential. The revert—which allows you to land from a vert trick and combo into a manual—is particularly helpful, although to my aging hands it feels a bit spongier and less responsive than I remember it being. The flatland trick system from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 give you much greater variety in the tricks you can pull off, letting you switch between tricks with double button taps—but once you start to get serious about high scores, there’s a cost.

I found the best way to really rack up a high score is to pull off an impressive combo, and then spam the handflip (a flip performed while standing on the board with your hands) to build up your multiplier. This meant that my highest-scoring combos all ended in the same way, as I repeatedly tapped the same button and monitored my balance meter. It’s hardly the most engaging way to play the game, even if the risk-reward of driving that multiplier higher and higher can be exhilarating when you know a combo will be massive if you land it.

If this really bothers you, there’s an option in the pause screen to disable all the extra bits added in the sequels—you can recreate a truly authentic experience by limiting yourself to the original control schemes. Going back to the first game without manuals is an interesting experience, and there’s a certain purity to cutting out reverts, spine transfers, and flatland tricks.The courses are, by and large, great—once the initial blast of nostalgia has passed, it’s still easy to be enchanted by the potential lines that run through them, the gaps that grant you extra points, the game’s obvious love for skate-friendly geography. Some levels have held up better than others (the competition levels occasionally dull), but your nostalgic instincts are right—these really are great, fun level designs.

These are exact remakes, so you’ve got the usual two-minute timer and list of objectives to complete. Whether or not these objectives are actually fun varies. Playing through the campaigns for both games, I was struck by how many of the level objectives are based on collecting five of a certain item and doing so doesn’t always require much technique. The line between the SKATE letters in each level is usually a fun, natural route, and THPS2 definitely does it better than 1; but there’s a lot more visual noise in this remake than there was in the original, and it can obscure some of the items you need to search.

While I’ve always preferred the arcadey, high-score focused skating style of Tony Hawk to the more realistic physics of EA’s (still excellent) Skate franchise, it’s hard not to think wistfully about how much emphasis Skate put on the actual skateboarding as you run through the twin THPS campaigns here.

Occasionally I’d catch myself just skating from point to point, not doing any tricks, collecting items with rote disinterest. Completing the high score objectives is very easy now that you have an expanded move set, and it didn’t take me long to play through both sets of levels. I thought back to THPS3’s objectives, which had stronger story-telling components, and the fantastic THPS4’s abandonment of the 2-minute limit, quite often while playing this.

Unlike the original games, you’re no longer expected to complete the game with every single character—once an objective has been completed with one skater, it’s considered done. However, getting the stats up for each character means you’ll need to run through every level and find their stat tokens, which are placed differently for everyone. This is how you unlock each skater’s video, too, and even in the age of YouTube there’s still something enticing about unlocking a skater’s highlight reel.

The real fun of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater always comes after you’ve familiarised yourself with the levels, though. Completing the campaigns is just the beginning of a much longer journey. Burning through a two-minute session, finding those lines, comboing grinds into manuals into verts into special moves—it’s blissful. It always has been, and it always will be. Pulling off the 900 as Tony Hawk still feels special. For fans of skateboarding who got into the sport thanks to the original, seeing a new generation of skaters available in the game is lovely, too.

And then there’s multiplayer, the bread-and-butter of Tony Hawk. HORSE, in which two players compete one-on-one to out-combo each other, remains one of the best multiplayer modes ever, and it’s back again. Unfortunately, it’s only available as a local multiplayer mode—but then, it’s at its best when you can try and distract the other player anyway.

In a brief online session I got to play ahead of launch, I enjoyed the game’s free-wheeling approach—it moves you between levels and throws up a new competition every few minutes, whether that means going for a high score, trying to get a good score fast, nailing the best combo, or playing the classic “graffiti” mode.

It’s a wonderful game to play with other people, and I can’t wait for the online servers to populate—and for the score attack leader boards to fill up with ridiculous numbers.

All of this is wrapped up in a largely superfluous “Challenge” system, where you unlock XP and money to spend on boards and clothing. There’s also a park creator, which I can only imagine is going to show its true value once the community is let loose on it. It’s all a nice bonus, giving you extra objectives to work towards as you play, even if it can feel superfluous.

If you’re a long-time fan, here’s the only thing that really matters, the words you’ve been longing to read—these are the games you remember.

They aged well.

They’ve been modernised.

It’s what you wanted.

They did it right. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 isn’t the best Tony Hawk game ever made—for my money, THPS3 and 4 have it beat—but it’s absolutely the Tony Hawk game we needed right now.


Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2  was played on PS4 with a copy provided by the publisher

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Pros
The Tony Hawk gameplay you know and love is back
A great visual upgrade, especially with the improved framerate
Chaining together tricks is still a joy
Very fun in multiplayer
Cons
The stage objectives are pretty unexciting
Spamming flatland tricks to boost your multiplier is too effective for such a boring technique
8.7
Overall

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James O'Connor
James O’Connor has been writing about games for too long now, but is going to keep going anyway. His favourite one is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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