If you had time to read my previous Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2preview, you might already know that it’s an understatement to stay I was excited about the game just after the first playable demo (which only contained a small level). But I was reluctant to say that this might be one of the best remakes of a game I’ve seen in the past few years. The Warehouse level from the demo was no even close to enough to make an opinion about the game. Remembering how bad of a game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 was, a leap of faith was a difficult choice.
I’m more than happy to confirm that my fears were misplaced. Vicarious Visions has truly done a remarkable job remaking the first two games in the series. It’s not just better graphics, but the physics have also gone through an overhaul. Thanks to that, the gameplay feels new and improved and it’s more than I could’ve asked for. It’s like the game has been stripped down to its core, being rebuilt with modern technology while maintaining its soul.
The original cast of the game is back, but aged up to reflect the time passage from the original release. It’s awesome to pick up the same characters you played with over 20 years ago. It’s also nostalgically impressive to see them nailing the same mind-blowing tricks they did back in the day. My only gripe with the in-game roster is that Spider-Man isn’t on it. Not even on the PlayStation 4 where Sony has special privileges for that character. But don’t worry, if you don’t like the roster, you can create your own character. Maybe a buffer or taller version of yourself? It’s okay, I won’t judge you. I pretty much created a version of myself that loves going to the gym, skates day and night, and never gets tired. You can also pick up clothes, your stance, push style, customize your board, and much more.
Vicarious Visions has also added some features from other Tony Hawk games, such as revert and wall tricks. I was a bit afraid that this would somehow impact the gameplay. Luckily, they did a great job of introducing them in the game without ruining the experience. It’s now even easier to nail some of the complicated combos, yielding more points than was ever possible in the original game.
The old challenges are also back, every stage having a list of several secondary objectives to complete, unlocking new parks. There’s a mix of everything, from score challenges to picking up the “SKATE” letters, finding secret tapes, doing certain tricks in select areas of the park, and so on. This is very helpful in the game’s progression, as unlocking new parks will require completing a certain amount of challenges. If you’re not an expert in getting a high score, you can spend time looking for other collectibles.
While you start as a rookie skateboarder, you’ll be able to collect stat points scattered throughout the parks. These stat points will let you upgrade your character in different areas. For example, you could invest most of the points in being the best vert skater ever. As another example, you could create a more balanced skater who can pretty much nail every trick in the book. Since the developer didn’t want us to get bored, they allow players access to either game at any time. You can pick up Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1, do a couple of the easier skate parks, and then move over to the second game, and so on.
There’s also a big multiplayer mode available in two flavors: local split-screen (which is something we rarely see nowadays) and a regular online matchmaking mode. This means you can play alongside your friends on the same console on the comfort of your couch, or you can take the ultimate challenge and queue in online matches. There’s plenty of mini-games in the multiplayer modes, including spraying graffiti, getting the highest score or the biggest combos, tags, and so on. The only thing I didn’t like is that it seems like the matchmaking isn’t always grouping people of the same skill. This sometimes results in an unfair and unbalanced match. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen that often to make it a deal-breaker. I just need to accept the fact that some people are just better than I am at the game.
Progression in both single player and multiplayer modes will unlock new swag in the in-game shop. This ranges from cool new outfits (hats, t-shirts, jeans) to cool new skateboard skins and unlockable characters. It seems that microtransactions currently don’t exist in this game. Everything can be unlocked by hard work, as it should be in every other game.
The effort put into remaking this game is remarkable, and the outcome is far more than I could have ever hoped for. It contains a plethora of content that will keep you occupied for months. Even if you finish collecting all in-game items, you can always relax with your friends in an online skating session. As is the case in all sports, there’s always room for improvement, so practice makes perfect. You can learn new tricks, play various characters to experience different skating styles, and show off your hard-earned in-game swag. There’s no limit to the fun Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 brings, and with a price tag of just $40, I can’t see any reason skateboarding fans won’t pick this one up.