Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 has finally released; and to celebrate, Activision actually recreated the iconic Warehouse level in real life for the Man, the Myth, the Hawk himself to skate in! Though as much of a pure shot of nostalgia as this may be, how does the game actually play? We already know from previous reveals that this game was hoping to honor the generation of skaters the original helped inspire; but does it deliver in terms of gameplay? Did Activision give us another faithful and lovingly rebuilt game like the N. Sane and Reignited Trilogies before it? And most importantly, is nostalgia the only thing thing game has to offer or does it add something new to these classics?
A Precise & Rewarding Experience – Gameplay & Controls:
On a very personal level, the controls were the one thing I was most worried about – at least for myself. For context, I originally played THPS when it came out for the N64 – and I loved it – but when THPS2 came out, I switched to the PlayStation and nothing about the controls clicked for me. Maybe I was stuck in my N64 ways; but I just assumed that my time with the game ended there. So when Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 was announced for PlayStation 4, I was excited for a second chance, but still nervous that I just wasn’t good enough to understand the controls. Well, after about an hour in the Tutorial mode – and millions of dollars worth of medical bills for poor virtual Tony – I was pulling off combos like no tomorrow!
Button input – at least on PlayStation 4 – is very sensitive. So when it comes to tricks, you might actually prefer to use the D-Pad as opposed to the left analog stick. This is not the game for button mashing as each move needs to be precise and deliberate. That being said, when you actually start pulling off the big tricks on purpose – as opposed to by accident – the experience just feels SO rewarding. That is why I highly encourage players of every skill level to go through the tutorial at least once!
And I know some players might view ‘Tutorials’ as annoying, needless or embarrassing to admit to using; but the Tutorial in THPS 1+2 is none of those things and offers something for every skill level. It’s incredibly welcoming and actually feels more like ‘guided free skate’ than a typical narrow scope tutorial. Players can practice everything from basics to advance techniques at their own pace. Though one of the best things about the Tutorial level is how it teaches players not just to use the controls, but their environment. Each level is a puzzle of sorts so it’s not only important to learn how to perform the various tricks but also how the environment lends itself to performing bigger and bigger combos.
Make the World Your Playground – Improved Levels, Challenges & Create:
The levels as you can imagine are stunning! The layouts are almost identical the originals with some fresh new thematic takes on some. Though if you mastered the originals, don’t think you have everything figured out! A more expansive bag of tricks to perform means that even veterans will have to figure out how to work all these new tricks into a seemingly familiar environment. Though the exploration doesn’t end there as levels not only have added goals but also collectibles. For example, I stumbled upon – or rather face-planted into – a hidden alien plushie on the School level and I’m sure there’s more where that came from. But in terms of ‘reasons to keep exploring & skating’, level-specific goals and collectibles are only the beginning.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 has an absolutely massive list of challenges that range from general gameplay to skater specific tricks. Completing these challenges – as well as just playing the game in general – will all grant Cash, XP and unlock Customization items in the shop for both your skaters and the parks you seek to build in create-a-park (more on that in a moment). Though the most rewarding aspect of going after challenges – aside from the satisfaction of checking things off your list – is that they actually help you to improve! With such a massive list of tricks, it’s understandable that you might fall into certain routines. Challenges help you break out of your comfort zone and change up the way you play.
Though if you really want to change things up – or just throw architectural physics out the window – try out the new and improved Create-A-Park. To showcase just how insane things can be, Vicarious Visions actually included a Create map called ‘Roller Coast’ and it’s… well… you need to see it to believe it. And that’s exactly why I’m excited to see what others will come up with. From the physical layout of the park itself to the style and atmosphere, everything is customizable!
Everything Else – Music, Multiplayer & More:
To me, everything else is just a bonus! The music is a major highlight of course and I even found myself rediscovering a few songs I had forgotten/ never knew the titles of. Additionally, the music here is very much treated like an actual Spotify playlist and you can customize what songs you want to hear on rotation and which you need a little break from!
As for multiplayer, it ran surprisingly smooth for me! You can have multiple players in your lobby and thus in the park – and whereas you can all see each other, there is no collision. In other words, you don’t have to worry about someone running into you. That being said, seeing all the other skaters on screen does require you to concentrate a bit more. Also, no matter how good you think you are, multiplayer will crush that feeling. On one hand, watching others shows off what’s possible and just how much you can improve is kind of incredible. On the other, seeing someone post multi-million point scores while you’re barely in the hundreds of thousands is kind of brutal at first. But don’t worry, you’ll get there!
I sadly didn’t get to try out much local multiplayer – pandemic and all – which is a shame because one of my favorite game modes, HORSE, is exclusive to local multiplayer only. Though considering how online is more a massive free-for-all lobby, it makes sense. That being said, Graffiti is incredibly enjoyable for online! And whereas I wish there was more support for Private Online Matches with friends, Activision has confirmed that an upcoming patch this Fall will add that.
All in all, between the enhanced beauty of its levels, customization options and the sheer magnitude of its tricks and challenges, THPS1+2 perfects what the series has long strived to do: Capture the freedom and imagination that comes with skate boarding. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC!