Anyone with even just a passing interest in the classic Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games know that in recent years, they have been through the ringer more than a little bit. When news then struck that a new remastering was coming of both the first and second games, the general response was excitement, mixed with trepidation. But when the developers were announced as Vicarious Visions – the very same team that did such a good job on the recent Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy – that trepidation turned to excitement.
And Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 was well-placed excitement; the remasters did extremely well and they rightly appeared on plenty of end of year lists. But now there is an Xbox Series X|S version out there, and we need to wax lyrical about it one more time.
There are a couple of ways of upgrading your Xbox One version of the game. Sadly, for disc owners there is no upgrade option and the next-gen version will need to be purchased in full. For standard digital edition owners, there is a £9.99 Cross-Gen Deluxe Upgrade that will need to be purchased before your upgrade comes through. Good news if you already owned the Digital Deluxe Edition though, as you will already have your next-gen upgrade waiting for you.
It is a little bit confusing, and unfortunately hampers those of us who prefer physical versions, but perhaps it is par for the course from Activision.
Those upgrading via the Cross-Gen Deluxe Upgrade though will have a few extra goodies: a new skater known as The Ripper that is a cool-looking skeleton, retro outfits for the legends that are Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero and Rodney Mullen, and retro content for the Create-A-Skater. So, purchase the next-gen update, get a load of retro items. Makes sense.
Qualms aside, there is some very good work put into this upgrade. The output has been increased to a whopping 120fps at 1080p if your TV/monitor can handle it, but there is 4K available at 60fps for everyone else. There are graphical improvements too with sharper dynamic shadows, lens flares and tighter reflections too.
And these improvements are instantly noticeable. Load up the iconic Warehouse – with a super quick load time as well – and the light that shines through the windows is superb. This only sets the tone for the rest of the upgrade: both Marseille and Venice Beach look resplendent, the dilapidated Mall that already stood out in the remaster now looks even more rundown, and even the schools look good!
By this point, photo modes need to be an established feature in video games. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a prime example of a game that needs one. For the amazing actions shots as you pull off a 900° or just some of the amazing locations you can now explore in Free Skate, it is a feature the game is begging for.
The gameplay is exactly as you remember, because quite frankly, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This means that the muscle memory kicks in straight away, but you do now have the ability to find new lines.
The revert and manual are both now here, which have the potential to fundamentally change the original Tony Hawk’s. Both were missing from the original release, and only the manual was included in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. These moves can help change your pro combos into sick combos if you can nail them. Using these can generate some completely new trick lines that would have otherwise simply not been possible in the original releases.
If my skills were good enough, I could easily get one long combo from the start to the end of the Mall using the new tricks to chain combos together. That is my challenge to you.
Away from the levels, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 does a great job of giving the impression that both games are under the same roof. You still have to progress through them as you would have done in the original releases, completing goals and earning medals to unlock the next level in sequential order, but back in the main menu they are neatly packaged together. Your skater – whether that be a pro skater or created one – has skill points that are used across both titles, as opposed to starting from scratch with both career modes. Then you have hundreds of challenges and an overall levelling system. Some challenges are specific to one of the games, but others can span across both titles. Levelling up and completing challenges can unlock items to purchase in the shop.
There are new outfits, board designs, trucks and even items to be used in the Create-A-Park mode. You can create your own parks or download other users’ parks to try out yourself. If the idea of this stuff usually daunts you, then thankfully there is a tutorial to get you started.
Finally, there is still the multiplayer mode, where you can take your skills online against the best of the best. Or this would be the case if the servers were populated. On numerous occasions I tried to find a session but could not find one; not a good sign for a game just over six months old.
After the release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 on Xbox, we can definitely say that the franchise is back. After the disaster of Pro Skater 5, and the so-so remake on the Xbox 360, this is easily the compilation that brings the Tony Hawk’s franchise back into the gaming spotlight. And there is a lot of game to be had here, with both careers and a never-ending stream of user-generated content to keep players skating until Activision decide what to do next with this revitalised franchise.